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In an increasingly technologized society, the potential for people with disabilities to benefit from such advances as computerized prosthetic limbs, wearable exoskeletons that allow users to walk upright, and 3D-printed limbs—to name just a few—remains an exciting possibility.
One of Fixed’s greatest strengths lies in its willingness to question the positivity of the futurist and transhumanist agendas that certain disabilities can, and should, be fixed for the good of humanity. The film spotlights particularly strong advocates against the all-encompassing idea of fixing being a positive ideal, among them activist and artist Dominika Bednarska, biochemist and ability studies professor Gregor Wolbring, and futurist Jamais Cascio.
There remains a profound question of whether mitigating some disabilities (at least somewhat) through high-tech options will start some sort of dis/ability caste system, where those who can afford to buy their way out of disability with technological advances will be seen as better, more able, or more normal than those who cannot, or choose not, to pursue a technological solution to their impairment(s).
The least interesting parts of Fixed are the person-on-the-street interviews sprinkled throughout the film, where casual interviewees are asked what sort of extra-ability or superpower they would like to have if the option were available. In a film that centers the voices and experiences of people with disabilities, these interviews stand as a marked change in tone—and, unfortunately, detract from the film’s serious discussion of futurism, transhumanism, and people with disabilities by having seemingly non-disabled people weigh in on what sort of super-abilities they would choose. While the aim of bringing levity to the film’s discussions is an admirable one, the short interviews do not accomplish this.
Even with its run time barely topping 60 minutes, Fixed is a surprisingly comprehensive introduction to the intersecting—and often thorny—issues surrounding dis/ability, transhumanism, technology, and who the concept of a “better” future includes and excludes.
Photo via F Delventhal/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Anna Hamilton is a writer and essayist who covers disability, gender, chronic pain, and feminism in her work, among other topics. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner and their Yorkshire Terrier, Noodle. You can visit her website at http://annaham.net.