Crispin Hellion Glover
I did not write, and I still don’t even think of people with Down syndrome or people with disabilities as automatically having anything to do with a discomfort. There are other things in the screenplay that definitely deal with taboo, that can make people uncomfortable. And What is it? was a study in taboo element, which I realized once I turned What is it? into a feature, that what the corporate entity was reacting to, was not — I was initially thinking they were concerned about the viability of having people with Down syndrome in a film. And that’s why I just thought okay, if we shoot a short film and everybody has Down syndrome in it, that will prove that there’s no problem.1
But then I realized what they were actually concerned about wasn’t the viability. It was the concept of actors with Down syndrome playing characters that did not necessarily have Down syndrome, that would make people in the audience, possibly ask questions like why are you doing this, or are you taking advantage of these people, are you making fun of these people?2 That was not in my head. I wasn’t interested and wouldn’t ever be interested in that for a second. That would be repulsive to me personally.
But I realized that what the corporation was concerned about were questions. And I realized that that had become industry wide. Any corporately funded and distributed film, if you have genuine questions or things that can truly make people uncomfortable, or another word for it, truly taboo, that film will not be corporately funded or distributed. And I realized that is a very bad thing. And that — because I innately had something, I wasn’t planning it to be taboo, but I innately had, just by having the majority of the cast being played by actors with Down syndrome, wherein those characters did not necessarily have Down syndrome, it meant that I had an innately taboo element, and I might as well make that what the structure of the feature would deal with.3 And that’s what happened.