Heart transplantation as entertainment: challenging attitudes and stereotypes in fiction film and visual art

Heart transplantation as entertainment: challenging attitudes and stereotypes in fiction film and visual art

Mr Brian KeeleyZoom

Heart transplantation has been a medical reality for more than half a century. Yet cultural narratives surrounding heart transplantation, particularly in fiction film and in contemporary visual art, continue to be dominated by science-fiction/horror, superstition, and other misrepresentations.

Drawing on my research as a doctoral candidate and visual artist, as well as my experience as a heart transplant recipient, I argue that such portrayals deny the reality of the lived experience of many people. They reinforce the social acceptability of sensationalising a serious health condition, and may negatively influence public perceptions of the important issue of organ donation.

A heart transplant involves a lifelong commitment to clinical interventions and hidden disability, and the constant threat of illness, organ rejection and death can affect mental health. I propose that there need to be more sensitive approaches to portrayals of heart transplantation since they affect those who may already be socially and economically marginalised by their lived experience.

Attitudes have rightly changed towards representations of many other marginalised groups in society. Therefore, the appropriateness of perpetuating stereotypes and superstitions of heart transplantation in dramatic narratives, as well as non-experiential representations in the visual arts, should now also be questioned.

University of Aberdeen, UK
Fri 12:00 - 13:30
Disability
Standard paper