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What We’re Watching: Wonderstruck

Wonderstruck is a new film that addresses a number of topics, including hearing loss. Learn more about Wonderstruck in today’s Audicus blog!

 

The film Wonderstruck is based on a novel by Brian Selznic and focuses on the story of two deaf 12-year-olds that have run away from home. The story of Rose (played by Millicent Simmonds) takes place in 1927 and the story of Ben (played by Oakes Fegley) takes place in 1977.

 

Wonderstruck and Hearing Loss

Both Rose and Ben travel to New York City’s Museum of Natural History after personal conflicts in their respective states of New Jersey and Minnesota.

 

Rose has a strained relationship with her father and seeks solace in films, especially movies that star the actress Lillian Mayhew (played by Julianne Moore).

 

Ben becomes deaf after a freak accident. His mother passes away and throughout the movie he searches for information about his unknown father.

 

Todd Haynes, the creator of Wonderstruck, stipulated that a deaf actor play Rose, and his worldwide search for a fitting actress resulted in twenty final candidates. Four of the twenty lied about their hearing loss and were eliminated.

 

After careful consideration, Simmonds was chosen to be the actress for the role. Simmonds uses American Sign Language and can lip read (although she does not use lip reading as a form of communication). Simmonds, now 14, will also star in a new film called A Quiet Place alongside Emily Blunt and John Krasinski.

 

Hearing Loss in Popular Culture

Despite a vast array of new hearing aid technology for people with hearing loss, there is still a hearing loss stigma for people who are deaf and hearing impaired.

Some people believe that hearing aids might make them appear older, weaker or less fashionable. This discourages people from buying hearing aids and from wearing the hearing aids that they already have. The stigma is particularly problematic considering the number of people that need hearing aids: although nearly 40 million Americans have hearing loss, only 10 million people have hearing aids.Many people do not know that they have hearing loss or are in need of hearing aids. Ignoring the problem can be dangerous, as hearing loss that goes unattended can put people at risk for depression and dementia.

Hearing aid microsystems are useful tools for people that are not comfortable wearing hearing aids in public. These hearing aid devices have the dimensions of 4x4x1 millimeters, making them less than one-sixth of an inch long. Because of their small size these microsystems consume much less energy than the hearing aids of the mid-1990s and are much less conspicuous.

Amazing films like Wonderstruck help to address the hearing loss stigma and help give people insight into what it means to be deaf and hearing impaired.

The promotion of more hearing impaired or deaf actors and actresses for the big screen can help eliminate negative perceptions about what it means to use a hearing aid and other hearing devices.

 

By: Aaron Rodriques

 

Source: Vanity Fair

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