Once more with feeling: I will never pay to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Even if money was no object, even if I had comp tickets, I still wouldn’t go. Hell, even if someone was paying me to watch the play, I would have significant pause.
As an autistic person, if I had to choose between watching the dramatization of what my community has lovingly (that’s sarcasm; we are capable of it) called “the nighttime dog book” and getting that root canal I suspect I need…
Put a bib on me. Shoot me full of lidocaine. Because I’m not watching that play.
Many, many autistic people have leveled criticism against the novel for its stereotypical and harmful depiction of autistics. The main character, Christopher, is portrayed as an egotistical snob whose disability and disdain for anyone he considers less intelligent than himself (i.e., everyone) justifies the abuse heaped on him by his family and society as a whole. Unsurprisingly, because we live in an ableist hellscape, the book has been received warmly by neurotypical audiences and critics.
Due to the book’s popularity, Christopher has served as the standard bearer for a cavalcade of fictional autistic white boys with too much self-worth and not enough social skills. A combination that almost always manifests as misogyny and/or lateral ableism. (On a related note, I will not be watching this fall’s latest crop of “autistic white boys: bad for their family members, good for science” series, Atypical, The Good Doctor, and *groan* Young Sheldon.)
Watching this book be brought to life while surrounded by hundreds of fawning neurotypicals sounds like Hell on earth to my highly-attuned autistic hearing.
And yet the play’s recent run in San Francisco was included on this website’s calendar.
Why would we bring public attention to an artwork that I personally would rather undergo dental surgery than attend?
To get to the root of that question, I’ll need to transition into my generation’s favorite critical device: the listicle.