The Stutterer film tokenizes the stutterer struggle. What is inaccurate about these portrayals is the reliable presumption that the dysfluency is to be blamed somehow on the will or the emotional fortitude of the stutterer instead of upon a failure of communication occurring from multiple directions. In one scene from the stutterer film, a cacophony of anxieties plays in the mind of the stutterer in the lead up to a social encounter. These scenes mistake the anxiety of stutterers for being a secondary issue of the biological deficit stuttering. I claim that such anxiety is an element of the social discrimination held against stutterers.
A scene later in the short film, in which the main character uses sign language to avoid unwanted socializing shows a different way of being speech impaired than is commonly imagined. In this instance, the stutterer uses membership within the disability community to claim the accommodation of not having to communicate with a random stranger on the street. Where the film is successful is showing that unexpected social encounters do put extra difficulty in the way of the stutterer, the use of sign language and requests for accommodation as part of stutterer self-advocacy may be seen by some to be a solution.. At this moment in stuttering activism, we see a dysfluency politics unwilling to articulate its opposition to normative culture and uninterested in providing new techniques to counter the conformity of the communicatively abled society.
The possibility of comparing Stutterer and Deaf activisms presented. by this short film is an important one. The Stutterer film is frustrating because of its orientation around a white hetero-masculine courting ritual within the bourgie metropolis, but beneath that veneer of twee playfulness, there is a powerful juxtaposition between the paper thin social organizing and community building done by stutterers that has largely been taken without payment to the stutterer community by the Speech Language Pathology industrial complex and the strong patient and student centered Deaf culture movement that has proceeded internationally for nearly one hundred years. We have to use the intimacy established in The Stutterer between Dysfluent and Deaf characters as a way of envisioning a communication disabled coalition politics. Stutterers’ gaps in communication may cause Deaf cultures to recognize them as allies in speech difference and potential beneficiaries of Deaf culture. Likewise, speech impaired people may find increased fluency in the use of sign language to bridge gaps in speech.