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[personal profile] modernwizard
A minor character in a Monster High ep, Finnegan Wake [har!], is a mer dude who speeds everywhere, mowing people down, and behaves with a mixture of insouciance and recklessness. [He's referred to as Rider in this wiki, but it's clearly the same character.] He also uses a manual wheelchair.

Mattel had a chance to create a really cool character who had a visible disability, but was not defined thereby. Instead, what did they do? They defined him by his disability. As the ep Ready, Wheeling and Able shows, the main monsters recognize that he uses a wheelchair and assume that he's into sedate, sedentary activities. After some platitudes about not jumping to conclusions and letting people do what they want, the main characters realize that Finnegan is much more at home on the track [?]. He assures everyone that, if he needs help with anything, he'll let people know, and then he asks someone to light his wheels on fire so he can do a trick.

In summary, Finnegan may appear at first glance to be some sort of super awesome stereotype-busting character. However, his adrenaline junkie behavior just acts as a blatant, sweating insistence that he's INDEPENDENT and AUTONOMOUS and ATHLETIC and FULLY CAPABLE DAMMIT EVEN THOUGH HE'S IN A WHEELCHAIR. As an implicit contrast to wheelchair users as silent, passive, objectified characters, Finnegan hits the other extreme and, because he tries so hard not to end up like the stereotype, he ends up referring all the more pointedly to the stereotype itself. An anti-stereotype, made with the intention of compensating for the failures in the original stereotype, still reinforces the stereotype. We can see this in the description for his episode: "When Rider rolls into Monster High, the ghouls learn there's more to this wheelchair-bound new student body than meets the eye." Yup, even though Mattel has strained mightily to progressively depict a character in a wheelchair, they still think he's bound to his chair, forever immobilized.

Finnegan also drives me up the wall because he's an inconsiderate, dangerous jerk. His ep introduces his character with a Finnegan-cam view of people diving out of his way as swerving and squealing noises occur. In other words, Finnegan barrels down the halls of Monster High at high speed, forcing people to yield the right of way. He seems to forget that he's not the only one in the universe with a mobility impairment. For just one example, zombies like Ghoulia and Slo-Mo walk with much more difficulty than most people, but apparently Finnegan doesn't care; he'll just run them over because going fast is cool! Nah, he's just an ass...
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