Disability Portrayal in Guardians of the Galaxy

Groot and Rocket Guardians of the Galaxy Poster

Guardians of the Galaxy promotional poster featuring Groot and Rocket. Photo: IMDB.com

This past week I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, with absolutely no expectation the movie might give me a subject to blog about. Yet talking to a friend afterwards I wound up drawing a parallel between individuals nonverbal or low verbal due to a disability and the character Groot. While I’ll refrain from any major movie spoilers, beware the following will contain minor ones.

Groot’s vocabulary remains limited to one phrase, “I am Groot.” Certainly this qualifies him as low verbal. Due to Groot’s lacking vocabulary, his companions often call him words like “stupid” and “idiot.” Basically they assume ignorance, an assumption commonly made in society towards low verbal and nonverbal people.

However all movie Groot comprehends the events going on around him. His actions prove that. Minus one scene where Groot acts impulsively, he makes no choices demonstrating poor intelligence. Actually even his impulsive act does not portray poor intelligence, just little patience.

Groot’s closest companion Rocket naturally treats him the fairest. Unlike the others Rocket turns to nonverbal communication cues, mainly tone of voice, to define the meaning behind each “I am Groot.” In a way Rocket and Groot’s relationship holds similarities to someone nonverbal or low verbal and those close to the person.

Probably to anyone besides a disability advocate, Groot comes across as comic relief. Personally though I believe the character provides much more. Please consider this post a challenge. I challenge you to go beyond the basics when watching Guardians of the Galaxy. Compare Groot to nonverbal or low verbal individuals. Allow the comparison to identify the unfairness to assuming ignorance, and remember that next time you feel tempted to assume ignorance.

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One comment on “Disability Portrayal in Guardians of the Galaxy

  1. […] excellent example is the summer blockbuster hit The Guardians of the Galaxy.  Note carefully how the Groot character is treated throughout the movie.  Or for quick reference […]

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