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Review of Murderball

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The featured film documentary called ‘Murder Ball’ directed by Dana Ruben and Alex Shapiro focuses on Mark Zupan and Joe Soares life of a Quadriplegic person. I have responded to the main characters and their situations including how they make me feel about the lives of Quadriplegic people and how they deal with it during their lifetime

My overall impressions about Mark Zupan and Joe Soares lives as a quadriplegic has encouraged me to respond not to feel sorry for them but to gain respect and be inspired .I will be discussing the film techniques to support my ideas in the documentary.

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If Zupan is the hero of the movie, Joe Soares is its enigma

He had a tough childhood. After losing the use of his legs from polio, he dragged himself around for years before his poor Portuguese-American family provided him with a chair. He fought for respect in school, fought for an education, was a fierce competitor on the court, and seems ferocious as he leads Team Canada against his former roommates. At home, he wants his son Robert to be a jock like dad. But Robert prefers to play the viola, and observes wistfully that one of the household tasks he doesn't like involves "dusting dad's trophy wall." Then an unexpected development (miraculously caught on camera) causes Soares to take a deep breath and re-evaluate his life, and his relationship with his son. Rehabilitation is not limited to the body. As the players talk frankly about their lives, we learn everything we always wanted to know about quadriplegic sex but were afraid to ask. One player says the chair works like a babe magnet: Women are dying to ask him if he can perform sexually. The answer, according to a documentary quoted in the film, is often "yes," and animated figures show us some of the moves. We also learn that people in chairs have long since gotten over any self-consciousness in talking about their situation, and hate it when people avoid looking at them or interacting with them. "I'm a guy in a chair," Zupan says. "I'm just like you, except I'm sitting down."

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Although the characters were required to make some modifications to their lifestyle and roles, it is possible to notice that they mainly display hegemonic masculinity because they all strive for independence, self-reliance, physical strength, and mental strength. Furthermore, they are all ambitious men who follow their desires. For example, Mark Zapan was a rugby player before he was paralyzed in an accident, but the accident did not change his attitude toward life or his career choice. Although all men, including Zapan, note that it is difficult to recover from feeling powerless like an infant to regaining independence, they all display persistence, patience, and optimism to regain self-reliance. In the end, it is possible to notice that some roles and attitudes change in those men, so they do not strive to follow hegemonic masculinity strictly. For allocation purposes, “female” and “male” are the main categories used to establish roles, define traits, and acceptable behavioral patterns . However, recent feminist perspectives indicate that there are more similarities between the two genders than people originally assumed . For example, Zapan is a masculine type, but he showed a lot of compassion and support to those who are learning to live with their disabilities when he was making a presentation about rugby in a hospital. Compassion and caring would have been traditionally considered feminine, so it is possible to notice that Zapan is mainly masculine, but he acknowledge his condition and makes role adjustments in compliance with it. Zapan is a type of person that could be considered a super crip, but all other men can also be considered super crips because they have all overcome circumstances in which most people would give up. “Your mind becomes a bigger disability than physical stuff” (Murderball, 2005). They all notice that there is no going back to the old ways, and they learn to live with their new circumstances, and that is already an admirable progress in addition to their athletic achievements after becoming disabled.

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All in all, most people consider MTV infamous for their distasteful reality shows. They often fabricate them with manipulative editing and by shooting the scripted shows in a “reality” fashion

Despite this, MTV is often ignored for its socially trustworthy television series and documentaries. Filmmakers Dana Adam Shapiro and Henry Alex Rubin along with THINKFilm and MTV Films reach out to their viewers with a gripping documentary entitled, Murderball, about a sport most people have never heard of: quadriplegic rugby. These quadriplegic men square off on a basketball court and play rugby – with unique rules and regulations of course – in specially designed wheelchairs so they can ram, bash, and smash each other with full force. The filmmakers and directors use the riveting stories of how these men were injured to draw sentimental feelings from the viewer, while their camera work and post/pre-production techniques are often manipulated to evoke wonder.

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Lorber, J., & Moore, L. J. (2010). Gendered bodies: Feminist perspectives (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Mandel, J. V. (Producer), Rubin, H. A. (Director), & Shapiro, D. A. (Director). (2005). Murderball [Motion picture]. United States: ThinkFilm.

Sapolsky, R. M. (2010). Testosterone rules. In M. Kimmel, & A. Aronson (Eds.), The gendered society reader (4th ed.) (pp. 26-31). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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