Saturday, April 11, 2015

Daredevil: Live Tweet, First Impressions, and an Epic Accessibility Fail

Poster for Daredevil TV show, with portrait of Matt Murdock, young man in suit wearing round sunglasses and adjusting his tie, smiling
Last nights Daredevil live tweet, under the #DaredevilDVP hashtag, was a blast. Alice Wong has assembled a Storify to archive the event.

Marvels Daredevil itself, the new Netflix series posted just yesterday, is pretty great, too. It’s dark without being gloomy, funny but not frivolous, and the action is exciting and violent without (yet) feeling dehumanizing … though parental discretion is most definitely advised. I have only seen the first episode, but the show is very promising.

Screen shot of Daredevil in action, at night, with police car nearby, man beaten on the ground at his feetAs disability depictions go, Matt Murdock / a.k.a. Daredevil, the blind superhero isnt bad, but not yet a revelation. The show indulges in a few blindness cliches, like face-touching and wishing to see again. But the show does interesting things with these themes and they feel more earned and specific than usual. My only concern is that if Murdock continues dropping clever one-liners about being blind, well into the series, the whole Get it? Im blind! schtick could become stale. My guess is that the blindness stuff will fade into the background while we dig into the story.

By all means, watch Daredevil. But while you watch, ponder the fact that while blindness is an integral part of the Daredevil story, Netflix so far has not provided an Audio Description track that would enable blind viewers to enjoy the show fully. Its bad corporate citizenship for Netflix to neglect Audio Description as it does for all shows, but its laughably terrible PR for them to leave it out of this show in particular, and to fail to respond meaningfully to people who have been asking about it since last summer.

Bold white logo AD, for Audio Description
Tom DiChristopher, CNBC - April 10, 2015

Get it together, Netflix. You've got another good show there. Don't ruin it by stonewalling on Audio Description. Just make it happen.