Analysis Of Specific Features Used In The Sports Documentary Murderball

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The sports documentary Murderball uses visual conventions to convey the perspective of quadriplegic men, by challenging the dominant cultural representation of the quadriplegic as being vulnerable in a western able-bodied patriarchal society and encourages the audience to view this as empowering the disabled sportsmen’s. This is accomplished though specific language features such as characterization, cinema photography and audio.

Murderball captained by Mark Zupan, follows the American quad rugby team and their fight against the Canadian team, coached by ex-American quad rugby player, Joe Soars In the lead up to the 2004 Paralympic in Greece. Within society the disabled are viewed as the social outcasts, weak and fragile and therefore sometimes feminized. The documentary challenges the dominant stereotypical assumptions the ablest may have on the disabled and the social marginalization that have been created. The directors Dana Shapiro and Henry Rubin instead by focusing on what these men can achieve, rather than what they cannot. It shows that being disabled does not mean they cannot participate in body contact sport, have sex and perform everyday activities that able-bodies can perform.

Murderball explores the effects of toxic masculinity in relation to violence, egression and the sexualization of women to empower oneself the individuals in which the film is focused on are constructed to overstep the and reverse the emasculation of disabled men of a patriarchal culture. Filmmakers Shapiro, Rubin and Mandel oppose the stereotypical assumptions of quadriplegic men through visual conventions of cinematography such as camera shots and angles to empower the disabled sportsmen in a western patriarchal society.

Throughout the documentary interview where conducted giving the men the opportunity to narrate their stories. Static shots at eye level angle are mostly used during the interviews to focus on the person talking. Their wheelchairs have been purposely placed out of frame to them appear as if they were able-bodied. This has been chosen to hinder the negative connotations a person may have being in a wheelchair and so they are viewed as any other man. In society quadriplegic are stereotyped into being reliable on others for help and are thought to be unable to complete the basic tasks that thought one could achieve.

The interview conducted of captain Mark Zupan uses a medium shot allowing the audience to see his wheelchair and atrophied legs unlike other interviews where the lower limbs are not see able. Zupan is shown dressing in silence. A zoom is used to focus on A large tattoo seems unexpected on a disabled body allowing an able-bodied audience to see Zupan as a masculine personality who can perform tasks rather than a patient needing pity. This counteracts the views that one may have on them. That the documentary had no intention of making viewers feel sympathetic or sorry just because these men have disabilities. Their perspective is privileged, and this has the effect of empowering them in an ablest patriarchal society.

Another visual convention used in Murderball is dialogue. The characterization of the quadriplegic rugby players is also used to portray them and dominate, strong and powerful to reverse the emasculation of disabled men of a patriarchal culture. Dialogue is used to show the attitude of aggression and anger theses sportsmen have on the stereotypical views that people with disabilities are weak and fragile within a western able-bodied patriarchal society. For example, in an interview with Zupan he says, “What you’re not going to hit a kid in a chair, f*cking hit me, I’ll hit you back.” This language choice builds a frustrated and confronting tone to position the viewer to feel guilty for feminizing disabled sportsmen’s and their beliefs that they’re passive and weak.

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