Jonathan Dobres


Murderball We rented Murderball this weekend. How good is it? On a scale of 1 to 10, I already have a copy on order from Overstock.

Murderball follows the U.S. and Canadian Quadriplegic Rugby (aka Quad Rugby, aka Quadball, aka Murderball) teams as they progress from national qualifiers to the 2004 Paralympic games in Athens. It also offers a look into the lives of people with disabilities that is remarkable for its emotional honesty. Murderball dodges the temptation to play the pity card. The movie does not look at these players and say, “Oh, how brave.” Instead it goes for, “Holy crap, badass!” As a person with a disability, I think this is perhaps the best aspect of the film. Living with a disability, any kind of disability, is not a matter of bravery. It’s just how you are and how you live.

So Murderball has frank discussions about quadriplegic sex, wheelchairs that look like they belong in Warhammer 40k, a heated rivalry between the U.S. and Canada, and the kind of pranks that only a person with no arms or legs could pull off. If you leave Murderball thinking that these people represent the power to overcome adversity and persevere in the face of great obstacles, you have not watched it the right way. You should leave the film with the impression that Mark Zupan and the other players will absolutely kick your ass any day of the week at any time of day or night. I love this movie, and critics agree. Wheelchairs and violence! Yes!

Some related links:

  • The International Paralympic Association. The Paralympics are not to be confused with the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics is a very noble endeavor and does great things for people with physical and cognitive disabilities, but everyone gets a medal. Some disabled athletes find that condescending. The Paralympics, in contrast, does not allow persons with cognitive disabilities to compete, is held immediately after the mainstream Olympics at the same venues, and is intensely physical as you can get.
  • Sled (or Sledge) Hockey. Take ice hockey, but put everyone in a specially designed leg skate, make the sticks smaller, and have at it. So cool. More here.
  • The United States Quad Rugby Association. Warning: BAD design up ahead.