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Films and Books Featuring Characters Who Stutter

he images of people who stutter in books and films are a source of controversy in the stuttering community. One person's idea of a realistic, non-condescending, or sympathetic portrayal of a stutterer can sometimes be another person's idea of an insult.

In this area of the Veils of Stuttering site will be posted reviews of important films and books that feature characters who stutter. Some reviews will be of episodes and their meaning within the work, because of the limited role of the stuttering character.  Others, like the first review -- of the film Lady in the Water -- will consider the entire work. 

The icon of the stuttering character is probably Warner Brothers' Porky Pig.  There are numerous opinions of PP's impact on the image and self-image of stutterers. Some see PP as a hero who perseveres in spite of his stuttering; others see him as a buffoon who presents a stereotypical image of stutterers; still others see him as an attack on people who stutter -- particularly children who are also subjected to teasing that identifies the child with a cartoon character.

The continual focus on Porky Pig is unfortunate, of course, because of the superficiality of the character.  After all, a "cartoon character" is the very definition of superficiality.  If it is true that PP does create a stereotyped identity of stutterers in peoples' minds, people who stutter have enough false self-images without volunteering to acquire or being forced into assuming a non-human one by listeners.

Unfortunately, many of the portrayals of people who stutter are not very much more sophisticated than cartoon icons.  This in itself is telling because the shallowness of the characterizations reveal a lot about the failure of society to understand stuttering, and perhaps even more about the lack of interest in improving this understanding.

It would be helpful if genuine, plausible, characterizations of stutterers were available, not only for the education of fluent speakers, but for the edification of people who stutter, their families, and friends.


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1994 - 2007 Darrell M. Dodge, MA, CCC-SLP

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Last Updated: Monday, March 26, 2007