The CODA Movie

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Since I, too, am a CODA, a Child of Deaf Adults, several people have asked my opinion of the 2021 CODA movie, so I offer it here.

That movie was a huge success by Hollywood standards. On one hand, it raised public awareness of those in our society who are Deaf and of their need for effective communication. It also showcased the interpreting role often assumed by a hearing child in a Deaf family before professional interpreters were available through a regulating agency. On the other hand, I am dismayed at how Ruby portrayed her character as one who feels trapped in her role as the family interpreter and who suffers sadness, anguish, and misery as she longs to escape to the world of music. Historically, "CODA" was a typical Hollywood film about people who are Deaf intended to stir pity in the viewers. Similarly, this movie prompts hearing viewers to pity CODAs in their bondage. The truth is that, while some CODAs may identify with Ruby, there are other CODAs who flourish in their roles and who go on to champion the Deaf community or to become a Certified Professional Interpreter.

I think it's time for Hollywood to abandon the pity party and present an objective story of those who are Deaf, of how they fared before the the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf existed, and progressing to life for them in the present. And I think the film should be made in consultation with a professional Deaf director and the persons in the script who are "Deaf" should be real Deaf actors who represent the Deaf community which consists of some who use American Sign Language and some who sign in English word order. Do you think this can ever come about?