Director Jim LeBrecht And Crip Camp Crew Put 2021 Emmys Accessibility & Inclusion Failure Center Stage
- 1 year ago
Filmmaker Claims Show Producers + CBS Deceived Him About ADA Compliant Ramp to Stage
Following the Emmy Awards show on Sunday night, Crip Camp director Jim Le Brecht put his activist chops to work, publicly criticizing the Television Academy and CBS for deceiving him about installing an ADA compliant ramp up to the stage.
In advance of the awards ceremony and broadcast, Le Brecht filed an ADA complaint against the two entities over this issue, and received an email response from Emmy producers and CBS promising an ADA compliant ramp that would be fully visible and integrated into the stage set-up. Neither Le Brecht nor his Crip Camp compatriots saw evidence of this promise at Sunday’s awards ceremony. Moreover, all presenters and nominees walked up stairs to one of three stages, including Paralympian Jennifer Long, who had to have aid to do so. According to Indiewire sources, there was a permanent ramp to the left of the stage and producers reached out to ask if anyone needed to use it but found that no one did. This response is problematic and implies a level of invasiveness that is at odds with the project of inclusion and normalization that the Emmys affected support for in CEO Frank Scherma’s speech during the broadcast and in the proliferation of articles about the inclusion of the ramp in the lead-up to the ceremony (see reporting in The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, both of which have published updates following the ceremony). As Le Brecht points out, it requires the people responding to disclose a disability and risk being stigmatized. It calls attention to difference and makes it an exception, rather than projecting a world built for inclusion. And, for many viewers, it is nearly impossible to disaggregate the impression of what feels like a façade of diversity and inclusion from the night’s outcomes, in which the awards in almost all of the high-profile categories went to white nominees.
Le Brecht was at the awards in honor of Crip Cramp, which chronicles the genesis of a group of disability rights activists whose work has been pivotal to material changes in this country over the past several decades. He has also been a longtime supporter of SDFF and was a recipient of the inaugural Documentary Spirit Award in 2021.