Four Weddings and a Funeral first hit our screens in 1994 and featured a deaf actor; David Bower, playing the part of Charles’ brother (Hugh Grant).
The fact that such a well-loved film featured a deaf actor is still talked about today. An excellent opportunity to showcase a deaf character who is strong and assertive; which was relatively forward thinking for the early ’90s.
We saw Four Weddings and a Funeral return in a 15-minute Comic Relief special, featuring all our most loved characters from the original film.
David once again used his cheeky style to guide his brother towards a more refined ‘Father of the Bride’ speech at his daughter’s wedding.
But one of the most discussed questions in the deaf community as well as in our profession as a whole is whether it is better to have deaf people featured in high-profile TV and movies and it to not be perfect, or have nothing at all.
Of course, there are always conditions where things work best. Having deaf consultants involved in the process to make sure the best decisions are being taken; including deaf actors and scriptwriters: and ensuring that the right language is used throughout.
For example, in the recent Four Weddings and a Funeral special, there was no interpreter present at the wedding for the speeches. For someone who has a deaf brother and who uses sign language (as in the Hugh Grant character), would this be a realistic representation of that situation?
I guess the other question is, does it matter if this isn’t an accurate representation of what real life is like for deaf people? The fact there was no interpreter present at the speeches is something that we as BSL interpreters or members of the deaf community will notice, question and consider. The general public, who don’t have an understanding of these deeper issues – are gaining exposure to sign language in a way that is portrayed inclusively.
With deaf people and deaf characters becoming more and more prevalent in today’s media, TV and film, I believe that this is an area we need to continue discussing and developing our thoughts about – and also continue to influence and encourage those who are showcasing their talents.
I appreciate that in this article I’m asking a lot of questions without providing answers! However, I feel that your response to these questions somewhat comes down to your life experiences to date and your beliefs about perfection. It’s certainly an interesting topic and one I think we will be discussing more.