What really stood out to me about this movie is the parallel that the creature has to anyone who seems to be a misfit to society. Sure enough, throughout the film, those ties are made, as several of the story’s heroes are misfits to 1960’s Baltimore: one is mute, one is a Black woman, one is a closet homosexual, and they’re the ones who connect the most with the creature’s condition. In fact, with the main character, Elisa, she shares quite a few similarities to people on the autism spectrum.
The most noticeable trait from when we first meet her is that she keeps a specific morning routine that we see her repeat to the dime. First, she prepares a bunch of eggs in boiling water, and as she waits for them to finish, she takes a bath, specifically because it sexually arouses her. After her hardboiled eggs are done, she speaks to one of her only real friends, the struggling artist from next door who is a closet homosexual. Then she takes the bus to work, using her cap as a pillow to rest against the window. Then once she arrives at work, she cuts in line to punch her time card in. Outside of work, her neighbor likes to take her out to a key lime pie, which she keeps having to remind him that she hates the taste of. Although she can’t speak, the two find a way to bond by watching TV.
Everything seen here in Elisa’s character echoes traits about autism beyond just keeping a strict, predictable routine. Her routine of getting in the bath every morning is an odd way for her to reach an orgasm, but may people on the autism spectrum has strange methods of calming down or feeling a certain emotion. Temple Grandin was said to have a relaxation method of spinning really fast on the swing set. Elisa also appears to be a picky eater, keeping her diet to only hardboiled eggs and not liking other treats that anyone else would find very appetizing, such as key lime pie.
Six-Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome, Lesson #65: Aspies Taste Everything or Virtually Nothing.
Then the creature comes into her life, and suddenly she has something she can truly connect with. Many people can agree that animals tend to look at you and see you for who you truly are, but anyone with autism can often share a greater connection with anything that isn’t human. My roommate, who’s on the spectrum, has said many times that she relates to cats better than people, and even myself, when taking photographs, enjoy taking pictures of animals more than anything else. It’s easy to see why anyone with a developmental disorder would appreciate animals more than people: they’re honest, they’re innocent, and anytime they do act up it’s simply because it’s their nature.
Although this movie takes that connection to an extreme by making her bond with the creature sexual, the point stands: people with autism don’t connect well with humans, but they connect beautifully with anything else. That’s what felt so remarkable to me about this movie; it tells about a time when anyone who did not fit the ideal American image was shut off from public awareness, not just in the Jim Crow laws, but in the general treatment towards mutes, homosexuals, and anybody with obvious differences, including anybody with autism, Asperger’s, or Down Syndrome.
- Understand the routine that people with autism like to keep. While surprises are still unavoidable, it’s not your job to press surprises on them, life does that to them enough already.
- Be patient with those on the spectrum, they are not born with the natural instinct to connect with people like others are.
- Know that autism is just another thing that makes us different. Like how you’d want people of non-White ethnicities or members of the LGBTQ community to be accepted, make sure you have the same mindset for anyone with a developmental disorder.
If there is a specific movie in my Review List you’d like me to do an autism lesson on, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!