Daredevil – The Blind Perspective

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Marvel Daredevil

Confession time: Rob Malan’s article on the new Netflix series “Daredevil” caught me totally off-guard. Having read it, I figured – hell, that’s sparked a thought or two I could add to that!

I hate most portrayals of the visually impaired with a passion. In my eyes people mostly screw it up. How do I know this? Simple: I am blind. Or at least, the sight in one of my eyes is so bad that my government rightfully calls it blindness. Still, Rob had me on the edge of my seat, curious to find out more about blind Matt Murdock, and hitting Netflix in a fervour.

That being said, I should also point out that I am absolutely unable to judge whether the show is a good or a bad idea as far as comic adaptations go, due to the fact that, being almost blind, I simply can’t read the original comics. A kind friend once gave me an issue and I have kept it, of course, but I have never been and likely never will be able to read it.

Nor will I be able to give proper judgement on how good or bad the fighting scenes in the show are. However, seeing a blind man fight is probably one of the first things people might take issue with as far as “realism” is concerned. To that I only have two things to say: first, we are talking about a superhero comic. Thus the hero gets to do stuff an ordinary human in the same situation wouldn’t be able to do. And if that in itself isn’t enough explanation for you, then I should point out just how surprised you’d be about the things you can hear around you once you are forced to pay attention to them.

The series has a few features that I liked a lot. So much even that I did enjoy watching the first episodes and actually will finish the season – plus looking forward to season 2!

Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Matt Murdock/Daredevil

Matt Murdock, attorney for the poor and needy, is blind. Fair enough, we knew that when we hit the play button for the first time. However, in many movies, the blind are brave people, never afraid and especially never under strain because of their surroundings. This show keeps in mind that things like too much sound is challenging to someone who relies on his hearing. Yes, sound is used for orientation but, as soon as there’s too much of it, it’s the equivalent of a bright and blinding flash of light.

I also found it refreshing that they paid attention to the fact that a blind person usually can’t tell whether someone nodded. Or pointed in any particular direction, for that matter. I’ve been there and it has given people around me, and myself, a good reason to smile, all in good natured way of course.

What also amused me – because it’s heartbreakingly true – was this little conversation between Matt and his soon-to-be secretary. She asked him whether he had always been blind and then commented that he must get that question a lot:

– “That or, how do you comb your hair?”

– “How do you comb your hair?”

– “Honestly, you just… You hope for the best.”

Seriously. If mirrors had a memory of their own, mine could tell you some wonderful stories, I’m sure…

There is one thing in particular that I found most impressive though. The series picks up on one question I have been asked a couple of times and an attribute many people think blind people have, that they neglect. Is it possible – or rather, more likely – for a blind person to perceive a lie? In the first episode, the damsel in distress talks to Matt about whether she is hiding a particular flash drive. She tells him she doesn’t. While she does so, the music picks up and we hear an increased heartbeat, which we are led to know is that of the woman. Truth be told, I found that incredibly well done. Of course, those who are hard of sight or blind aren’t really able to hear your heartbeat across a room. However, it is possible to hear someone smile. At least when you have known that person for a while. I can’t even explain how it’s done. You just know. What I can say for certain is this: not being able to see someone’s expressions, we are forced to pay closer attention to sound and therefore the choice of words, speech patterns, pitch, etc. All of that adds up to an auditive image of someone which can be just as telling as their facial expressions. Add to this the fact that most people are very aware that they have to put on a good smile when trying to convince you – yet they often forget that they might want to alter their voices as well.

I have seen many movies and TV shows that make the blind likeable, smart and lucky. Perhaps a bit clumsy. But this is the first show I’ve seen that pays attention to the details of sound without attributing it to some form of bat-like ultrasound. For the record, it is possible to hear a wall. It doesn’t take being a bat either. You can try this yourself, by closing your eyes and snapping your fingers. Do this close to a wall and you will hear the difference.

So off I go to watch the rest of Daredevil! I hope you will join me and have as much fun watching the show as I have.