Movies for the Faceblind

One of the aspects of modern life that is complicated by being faceblind is television.

There’s a rather small part of the brain dedicated to facial recognition (and to recognizing a number of other things, as it turns out). Without it doing that job, the faceblind are left unable to recognize faces.

There are a surprising number of films and television series that rely on facial recognition for plot purposes. Clones? Twins? Time travel? But even the ones that don’t rely on it for the plot are difficult. It really is very necessary to be able to recognize the different characters as they appear throughout the film.

I rely on subtitles and the people around me to help me follow the plot of the film. In day-to-day life, of course, I rely on the dog.

Since, every movie night is Prosopagnosia (Face blind) Movie Night for me…What makes a good selection for Prosopagnosia Movie night? (ie. one that I can watch without asking “who’s that?” too many times)

    There are a few criteria that can make a movie easier to follow.

  • Small Cast
  • Very distinctive characters (especially distinct body language)
  • No laundry (The clothes never change. They should be members of the cast in their own right)
  • Color Coding (Star trek does this quite well)
  • Frequent use of names
  • Subtitles
  • Cartoons/Animals

And these don’t just make it easier for me. Subtitles are helpful for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, or even just people with a lot of background noise. The color-coding that makes my life so easy is also an advantage for anyone with trouble making out the details on the screen.

Of course, much of modern television remains essentially inaccessible. In a world where communication relies increasingly on memes, youtube videos, and images, faceblindness presents a barrier to communication.

But for today at least, I remain simply one more person reluctant to fully adopt modern technology.


The Difference between Triumphs and Tragedies

This time of the year we often turn our thoughts to gratitude, to the things we are grateful for, both simple and profound. It is remarkably easy to find things to be thankful for, to make lists of things large and small. The reason it is so easy is that it is simply a matter of attitude, of perspective.

The difference between a triumph and a tragedy is attitude. The same event can leave one man cursing his luck and another breathing a prayer of thanks for his good fortune.

Years ago, at the start of my second year of college, my pickup was struck by a semi. There’s a lingering list of problems stemming from that, the most notable being the brain injury and associated faceblindness. Prosopagnosia, or faceblindness, means that I will never again recognize a face in a crowd, not even that of a loved one. In fact, I cannot recognize my own face in a mirror (this has led to some interesting misadventures with reflective surfaces, but that’s a story for another time).

It’s very easy, as one struggles to adapt to all of the things that are suddenly different and hard, to ask “Why me?” and to lament the misfortune. But the difference between a triumph and a tragedy is attitude.

The beauty of that, of course, is that it is a choice. If I say, “I am so lucky to have lived. I am so fortunate to have so much that I can still do.” Then the story is a happy one, upbeat. It isn’t a story without difficulties, but it is a story about overcoming them. If I say, “This was so terrible, there is so much I cannot do” the story is sad. The difference between triumph and tragedy is attitude.

In this time of cultivating lists, perhaps instead cultivate attitude. In the long run, the attitude will be of far greater use.

As for me, well… I have memories that are missing, but the ability to make new ones. I’ll never recognize the faces of my family again, but I know their voices. I may be living life on a higher difficulty setting, but I’m living it.