Hollywood is starting to feature more stories about and actors with hearing loss and other hearing-related ailments. Edgar Wright, renowned director of movies such as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” is the latest filmmaker to put the spotlight on hearing loss. His newest film is called “Baby Driver” and stars Ansel Egort as a young getaway driver called Baby who suffers from tinnitus and copes by continuously listening to music. Wright incorporates Baby’s personal soundtrack into the film’s own score. The film also features CJ Jones, a deaf actor.
Hearing Loss Representation in “Baby Driver”
Hearing loss and tinnitus are two very common health problems in America, so why aren’t they portrayed more on screen? And when they are portrayed, it is often by hearing actors playing deaf characters. Wright chose to case an actual deaf actor to play the role of Baby’s adopted father, and his choice is receiving a lot of praise from deaf and hard of hearing movie fans. Jones’ is fluent in sign language, so his communication comes off much more naturally than actors who have learned ASL for a part.
The part was not specifically written for Jones, as Wright states in an interview. However, after he wrote the script, his casting director knew exactly who to call for the role. Although Jones has been acting for nearly three decades, he acknowledges that parts for deaf actors are hard to come by, and parts for deaf black actors are even more scarce. Jones’ appearance in “Baby Driver” is a huge milestone, as he is the first black deaf actor in a major movie. It is extremely important to have greater representation of hearing loss, deafness, and tinnitus on the big screen. There are so many people who suffer from hearing problems but they are rarely portrayed in popular culture, and even more rarely portrayed with actors who actually suffer from hearing loss.
“Baby Driver” Spotlights Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a common auditory ailment that is characterized by a near-constant ringing in the ears. Over 50 million people in America suffer from it, and prolonged noise exposure is often the cause. There is no cure, but there are a variety of ways people manage their tinnitus. In the film, Baby deals with his tinnitus by drowning it out with music, a central theme of the movie.
Although loud music is not the best way to treat tinnitus, the film is putting tinnitus on the national stage. Celebrities such as Barbra Streisand and William Shatner have spoken publicly about their tinnitus, but “Baby Driver” spotlights tinnitus in a way that’s never been done before. Edgar Wright also recently revealed that he had tinnitus as a child, and drew on his own experiences to write the character.
“Baby Driver” is an incredibly important movie when it comes to hearing loss representation. Although Baby suffers from tinnitus, it doesn’t stop him from being an action hero. The film shows that tinnitus, hearing loss, and deafness do not need to be an insurmountable obstacle, and people with hearing loss issues can live extraordinary, exciting lives!