Mary Robinette Kowal Statement

Allistic Puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal posted this thread on Twitter on 7th February

Not autistic, but I am a professional puppeteer and designer. The semantics of this are very poorly thought-out and deeply problematic.

The first design question is always, why use a puppet?  (1/6)

Possible answers to “why use a puppet”:

  1. character needs to do something impossible
  2. You run a puppet theatre.
  3. Aesthetic or semantic commentary
  4. They aren’t human (2/6)

I’ll grant that I’m looking at a clip, not the entire play. But the only semantic justification I can imagine is if the big reveal at the end is that “there’s a person trapped inside” the entire time. That is, at best, a tired trope.

But really, that’s still super damaging.  (3/6)

What it does is reinforce the idea that there is a neurotypical ideal and that everyone who doesn’t fit into those behaviors is not human.

In this play, literally.

This is an excellent reason to not use a puppet  (4/6)

Also from a pure design standpoint, why is the puppet gray? And if you’re going to have an overt puppet, commit to it. This humanette is clumsy and aesthetically really clunky. (5/6)

PS for another look at an autistic puppet character, look at Julia on Sesame Street. She’s a puppet because the characters she interacts with most are also puppets. They all exist on the same plane of reality.  (6/6)