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Hope for Happiness

nbarker's picture

I found Monica & David to be an incredibly hopeful, heartening film. This film humanized what is so often an incredibly stigmatized condition, Down's syndrome. The generally rosy outlook of the film didn't feel at all artifical, though I do have to question some parts of it. The filmmaker did in fact come to them at an incredibly happy and successful (by the subjects' own standards!) time in their lives. I do fear for what has happened to them, to some degree--Monica and David are such effervescently happy people that I want nothing but good for them. Sadly, life cannot always be happy, and that's true for people regardless of disability or ability. 

I noticed a similar sentiment expressed by both Monica's and David's parents. They often express a feeling of wanting to protect their children--they frequently refer to Monica and David as being their kids, despite the fact that they are both adult by normative standards. They care deeply for their children, yet they have a tendancy to infantilize them. I can understand, though, why they struggle with this. Monica & David, as do many children with Down's do have a lot of behaviors that can seem childlike, and can be easier to grasp as concepts if you view them as children. What the film consistently reinforces to me, however, is that they are adults in so many ways. It brings up questions for me, namely, how do we define adulthood? 

Perhaps we should also seek, with this film as a frame, to explore what makes personhood. One of the central questions of identity is personhood, and what identities contribute to one's personhood. I would argue that in the case of Monica and David, one of the things that makes them so human is their love and caring for not just each other, but also their family and friends. 

I have to worry for Monica and David, though, about questions of children, possibilities for an independent future (and what that could mean), and how they will be treated in a larger society as they seek more and more independence. 

I must apologize for the lateness of this--I spent most of the afternoon filing a police report. More on that later.