I saw the movie I am Sam, because it challenged me on how people with disabilities should be treated in certain situations. Sam, a man suffering from mental disabilities, is shown in I am Sam. He tries to raise Lucy himself. Sam was diagnosed at 7 years old with Autism. His intellectual abilities are limited to 7 year old. We see Lucy's love of Sam as they watch him raise her under his roof. Social workers discover that Lucy is 8 and have Lucy placed in a temporary home. Sam then goes to court to get Lucy. Rita (Sam's lawyer) decided to "pro bono", in order to impress colleagues. Rita doubts Sam is capable of raising Lucy. And so do the social workers. Sam changes her view of Sam, and she shows her love for Sam. She starts to see Sam, and she becomes a role-model for her son. This story seems to mirror the prejudices, difficulties and struggles that people with disability face every day.
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I was shocked to see Sam be subjected to prejudice as I watched I am Sam. Analyzing this prejudice, the characters' motivations for expressing it made sense. I felt that most prejudice I saw was because people thought they were morally superior than Sam. This is evident in the birthday party Sam threw for Lucy at start of the movie. Sam's dad, Lucy's friend, was apprehensive about Sam's disability and accused Sam of hitting his son. Lucy's temporary foster parent tried to take custody of Lucy, but this was another instance when this kind of rationalization occurred. Although Sam proved to be a good father, his temporary foster parents assumed that Sam couldn't be a suitable parent because of his disability. Sam's Foster mom stated to him that she would do all she could to keep Lucy safe. Rita also became Sam's lawyer. She thought Sam was annoying at first and didn’t know how to deal with him. Rita said to Sam, "I just can't figure out what to call you," but she later realized that she wasn't really trying to help Sam as she felt too good a lawyer. She was proud, which is one part of this rational. This movie brought out a lot emotion in me. It can be hard to grasp the challenges that people living with disabilities are forced to face, especially if they involve their families. This movie was the first one I saw. I felt that I could portray the various perspectives of each character by making this decision. I found it easier to connect with the movie. Unlike watching movies alone, which tends to bring out more emotion, I found that I could also feel the movie. It is Sam's perspective that I feel this movie brought out so many emotions. This made me feel connected to Sam. It gave me empathy as well as a new perspective about the mental health challenges that people with mental illness have to face. Sam's disabilities were also beautifully portrayed by Sam's actor. This helped to emphasize the frustrations autistic people experience in a range of situations. I was adamant that I had made assumptions about disabled people. I saw them as weak and inflexible. The best thing for me was watching Sam do things that were surprising to me. He was clearly driven to win Lucy's back and did everything possible to reach his goal. It became clear that disabled people aren't always dependent. Sam raised an intelligent and compassionate daughter for seven long years. He was also a Starbucks employee. Sam, a severely disabled person, was able to live a normal, if not impossible, life. Sam claims that he feels smarter than Lucy while Rita and Rita prepare for the trial. Rita then hears Sam say that he feels smarter about some things than Lucy. Sam is showing the confident side. Sam's actions seemed to confirm my assumption that disabled persons can be fragile in other ways than their disability. Sam's case is losing hope and Sam says to Rita: "You don’t really know what it’s like to try and fail and never get there!" Because you were made perfect and I was created like this. People like you don’t know how it feels to feel hurt. People like this don't feel anything." Many people mistakenly believe that disabled people lack emotion and feeling. Sam may think that sadness is part his disability. But he does not realize that everyone experiences intense emotions. Sam does not realize that anyone losing their child would experience feelings similar to his. I was struck by his comment and began to question how disabled people would perceive able-bodied persons. Sam also displayed one my assumptions: "Disabled people are more at ease around each other than they are with abled individuals." Sam's three best friends in the movie are also disabled. As they all tried to win Lucy back, the film gives a positive view of these characters. Sam seemed more comfortable with them than with anyone else in the film. As I watched I am Sam I was able use many ideas and topics that I have learned in class to relate to many characters and situations. The film shows how society views people with disabilities based on stereotypes. Sam is depicted in both positive or negative ways throughout the movie. We are able see the variety of assumptions people make about him. Sam can be seen in some instances as being a bother to society. Other times, Sam is seen as a hero. Social workers who believed Sam was unable to raise Lucy appeared to be making the fundamental mistake of attribution. When we underestimate the influence and influence of personality traits, the fundamental attribution error happens. Social workers ignored the fact that Sam's disability was the primary focus of social workers. However, any parent who is raising a child can overcome challenges. Rita explores this issue as she brings out emotions within the opposing counsel. Rita said, "Ever single parent raising a child is going to face difficulties...that makes you feel retarded...disabled." Rita also emphasizes that loving someone, even if they are challenged, is not a sign that they are incapable. This negative perception of people with different abilities in society drives divisions between "normal" and "different" classes in society. I am Sam has many themes, but the one that stands out to me most is Rita’s changed outlook about life. I found the film a very good example of how you can learn from someone else's perspective. Many stereotypes arise from lack of exposure with an out-group. Without having had exposure to people with disabilities, how can you expect to be able learn from them and have a positive interaction with them? I think I am Sam does an excellent job helping people build an understanding of the disabilities.