Hara confronts his audience with a painful truth: that those without disability fundamentally regard disability as lack, and lack as less than. Pity expresses one’s self-regard––it’s rooted in a relational awareness of the self as possessing something that the other does not. So while pity might motivate their donations, it’s also pity that maintains their otherness. Kōichi Yokozuka, another Green Lawn member, articulates his complicated relationship with pity:
“When I hold a microphone… and talk to the crowd, I can’t help myself…from feeling that I’m miserable. How can I say it? I try to resist the idea…inside my head. But I always find myself asking for sympathy.”
Yokota, Yokozuka and other Green Lawn members talk candidly about their experiences: they talk about sex, marriage, children, and about the film itself. Goodbye CP denies passive viewing; Yokozuka directs his own camera at the audience and renders them––us––as subject.
Goodbye CP doesn’t entirely avoid the edge of voyeurism, but it does highlight the flaws of positivistic imagery. By centering his subjects’ experiences, showing them in the quotidien, and even exposing them at their most vulnerable––the film ends with a shot of Yokota sitting naked in the middle of an empty road––Hara’s film challenges a documentarian gaze that marks people with disabilities as object of pity. Yokozuka speaks:
“When I was with Hara, he always took pictures of me. Damn him. Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be the photographer?…So I started taking pictures myself. The reason why I take pictures…stems from the fact…that I have CP. But I don’t know how…that relationship has anything to do with problems of CP. I don’t really care. This is about my feelings.”
Goodbye CP cares about these feelings, and because of it, the film is an incredibly difficult watch. But it’s also entirely less exploitative for it: Hara’s camera stares back at the staree.
*Goodbye CP is available to stream for free on Vimeo.
The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987). Cinescope. August 9, 2013. https://cine-scope.com/2013/08/09/analysis-the-emperors-naked-army-marches-on-1987/
Aufderheide, Patrifcia, Jaszi, Peter and Mridu Chandra. “Honest Truths: Documentary Filmmakers on Ethical Challenges in Their Work.” Center for Social Media, School of Communication, American University. September, 2009. http://archive.cmsimpact.org/sites/default/files/Honest_Truths_–_Documentary_Filmmakers_on_Ethical_Challenges_in_Their_Work.pdf