An Aspie Review of “The Accountant”: From Victim to Super Hero

By Joe Carr of accountant

Like The Accountant’s hero, Christian Wolf, my review of the film is neither wholly good or bad. I immensely enjoyed the movie and consider it a step forward for the autism community becoming more understood by the general public. As an autistic person myself, I want to add my perspective.

First of all, I love the two primary themes: victimhood is a choice and autism brings powerful gifts that our society needs. I appreciate the use of the “super hero” archetype to characterize the unique abilities of autistic people, which is far better than the “retarded” or “freak” archetypes. I recognize that much like the freak perspective, the super hero role still creates a sense of otherness. But I know firsthand that feeling other is nothing new for any autistic person. I prefer this film’s holistic representation of an Aspie that is superior in certain areas while challenged in others.

Most criticism of this movie centers around the claim that it portrays autistic people as deviant, separate, inhumane and violent. I saw nothing inherently wrong with the Christian Wolf character; I saw a brilliant, well-intentioned man doing his best in a society that was not built for him. His violence is a result of his childhood trauma, not his autism. His non-autistic brother is just as deadly, which stems from their shared childhood experience, not their neurology.

There’s also an ongoing meme that (non-autistic people) should never try to tell a story about autism, but I disagree. The book Neurotribes by neurotypical author Steve Silberman is one of the best books on autism I’ve read, and he’s been harshly judged for discussing a topic that doesn’t directly affect him. I applaud any neurotypical person who puts their energy and creativity towards telling our story. I call these people allies, and the last thing we should do is punish an advocate who sticks out their neck in a conscious, well-intentioned way. Obviously, the film’s director, Gavin O’Connor, did careful research to make his portrayal of autism accurate and respectful.

The victimhood discussion is a tricky one. I believe that the biggest thing holding back the autistic community is the prevailing victim story. As a trainer and coach of fellow Aspies, many of my clients have a deep-seated belief that they’re broken, disabled, or cursed. I see parents weeping over the diagnosis of their child like it’s a horribly unfair tragedy that is ruining their lives. I will be the first to tell you that there are very real challenges autistic people and their families face, and that there are systems and people in the dominant culture that harm us.

However, it is our choice to see ourselves as victims and spend our energy complaining, blaming, and living life “despite” our condition. I advocate choosing to see ourselves as empowered and recognize that all challenges are opportunities to become stronger. We can take steps to lessen our challenges and change societal barriers while simultaneously accepting that we are perfect just as we are.

I look forward to more powerful portrayals of my fellow Aspies. And much like the evolution of media images of characters from other marginalized groups, I expect to quickly see movement away from stereotypical and deviant, to diverse, nuanced, and brilliant. I welcome The Accountant as a step in the right direction.

Autistic Connection: Different, Not Less

Thursday, November 3rd, 7-9pm
5501 N. Lamar C123, Austin, TX
Open to all

I am going to fully dispel the myth that we are in any way bad at connecting with others. Indeed, connection is an autistic super power. And learning how we do it offers profound implications for the rest of society.
Growing up an Aspie, I had a difficult time making and keeping friends, struggled with dating, and seemed to make enemies everywhere I went. This led me to believe that I was bad with people, a belief that I then continued to make true.
Through personal transformation work, I discovered that I am actaully uniquely gifted at connecting with others. I’m not so good at reading facial expressions or subtleties of language, but I can FEEL people deeply. I was gullible because I was trained to believe people’s words, but when I learned to trust my feelings and intuition, I could easily detect inconsistencies in words and intention. I can even tell when someone is lying to themselves.
By learning to connect through through your body, emotion, and intuition, you can create connection and even intimacy with anyone. I am excited to teach this valuable skill to Aspies and non-Aspies alike!
If you’re autistic (or otherwise neurodivergent), come tap into this superpower. If you love someone who is autistic, come learn a deeper way of being with them. If you have any relationships at all, come learn how to take it to another level.
Open to all people interested in connection, intimacy, autism, or neurodivergent relating.
$10 (no one turned away)
Located at 5501 N. Lamar C123, on the East side of North Lamar just South of Koenig. It is in the same shopping complex as Titaya’s Thai Restaurant, and there’s an old sign over the suite that says CRT Awards, Inc.