keep keep the change

Dina was a really great movie about an autistic couple, and it’s a documentary. Keep the Change is a romantic comedy about an autistic couple, and I really wanted to like it. It’s a movie where the autistic characters are played by autistic people.

It felt a bit like an autism minstrel show, probably because it was directed by someone non-autistic.

The main character is David, who lives with his rich parents and makes racist jokes all the time. He has a famous actor cousin and thinks a shitty montage of home videos from childhood and scenes of nuclear explosions is going to be a real movie. He gets sent to an autism therapy group because he made a racist joke to a black cop. He gets there and he’s too cool for the whole thing, not like Those People.

He has to visit the Brooklyn Bridge with Sarah as therapy homework/punishment for being a douche. She comes on to him, but hides the fact that she’s in an open relationship. It’s explained that she’ll sleep with anybody.

They fall in love for no particular reason, and he brings her out to meet the family, including the famous cousin. She goes on and on singing beyond the point where anybody wants to hear it, and he crushes her by telling her to stop and that she’s embarrassing him and herself and everyone. She doesn’t want to be his girlfriend anymore and that makes him sad.

He wins her back over by chasing her to her bus stop and then following her on the bus, but not knowing how to pay for bus fare. So he holds up the line and annoys everyone making a scene, until she takes pity on him and gets up from her seat and helps him pay for bus fare. There’s no apology, and the only redeeming thing he does is tell his parents after the fact that he liked her because she’s weird. He’s weird, too! OMG self-acceptance!

I don’t think the world needed a movie depicting autistic people as racist, annoying, hypocrites who speak in baby talk.

There’s a bunch of gratuitous hating on homeless people. David flips out on a bum for no reason, projecting his own self-hatred for being a bum. So even the movie with a cast of autistic people takes the position that living at home makes you crappy.

There’s a lot of screen time devoted to people being rude without self-awareness and not understanding jokes, as if those are the important things about autism.

I wanted to see a positive movie about the possibility of not dying alone, and instead I saw a movie about how racism is just a forgivable quirk of some rich white guy who’s an asshole in other ways, too.