The #ActuallyAutistic community and disabled agency on Twitter
Hann Bingham Brunner
Date: April 25, 2023
This paper examines how the pervading normative discourses show how able bodies, and further, able minds produce identity, knowledge, and power (Holladay, 2020), and the ways that disabled bodyminds resist and recreate through métis (Dolmage, 2020; Holladay, 2020; Yergeau, 2018). This study examines tweets from the #ActuallyAutistic hashtag in the wake of the trailer and later film release of Sia’s film Music. The film centers on a non-verbal autistic girl named Music, and the ways that autistic Twitter users responded to a) the ableism and anti-autistic rhetorics of the trailer and the film, as well as b) non-autistic Twitter users’ defense of Sia and continued performance of anti-autistic rhetorics. Initial findings demonstrate how autistic Twitter users perform métis online to reclaim rhetoricity for autistic people, as well as how autistic users form community through hashtag usage and collective action. Initial findings demonstrate how autistic Twitter users perform metis online in order to create an autistic rhetoric and reclaim rhetoricity for autistic people, as well as how autistic users form community through hashtag usage and collective action. The success of this hashtag activism can be seen through the negative film reviews surrounding the film’s release months after the initial hashtag activism (Walker, 2020), which cite the film’s ableism, as well as other popular media rejections of the film, such as at the Golden Globes by the announcers, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. I argue that as a virtual and textual kairotic space (Price, 2011), Twitter helps autistic people retake agency and provides a space to use métis rhetorics to center autistic experience, and create autistic rhetorics and autistic community.
About the Speaker
Hann Bingham Brunner
Hann Bingham Brunner, MA (they/them) is a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics and Rhetoric at Oklahoma State University with a focus in disability studies. They are an Assistant Director of the International Composition program, as well as an Assistant Director for First-Year Writing (Freshman Composition), and instructor for courses such as Critical Writing and Analysis II: Disability Justice and Accessibility. Their work focuses on disability and identity, and the ways that these intersect with chronic illness, neurodivergence, and chronic pain. They are the recipient of the Carol G. Preston Award for Social Justice Research (2022), the Gene Halleck Award for Teaching Excellence (2021) and the EQuAl (Employee Queers and Allies) scholarship (2020).
- Maryland Developmental Disability Council (MDDC)
Disclaimer: This Summit was supported, in part by grant number CFDA 93.630, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.
- The Graduate School’s Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion (OGDI), University of Maryland