Perfectly Normal a documentary short film by Joris Debeij, follows the life of Jordan, a middle aged man with Asperger’s syndrome. The film seeks to educate viewers in all forms of Autism, as well as other disabilities. Instead of having a camera that just follows him, Jordan addresses the audience and speaks to us as equals, which is another lesson he wishes people would learn.
This film will change the way you see disabilities, as well as disabled people. As Jordan says, he is not a disabled person, but merely a person with a disability. This key lesson we are meant to learn. While most of us seem to interact and define people by their disabilities, Jordan wants us to understand that he is just like everyone else, and just like everyone else, he has things that make him different. He says “everybody is not completely normal” pointing out that what we define as normal is only a concept society has created to place us in categories and assort us into boxes.
This documentary shows just how normal Jordan’s life is, while simultaneously showing how incredible he is. There are moments in the film that the audience is surprised by him, in particularly his independence. Jordan works a routine job and even converses with people at work, he manages his own finances and has even learned to play the piano beautifully, and on top of that he is in a relationship with a woman named Toni who has multiple disabilities of her own. Through it all, he keeps a very positive and motivated attitude. Why does this surprise us though?
Society has an idea of what disabilities are supposed to be, and how they are supposed to affect us. Most people have a limited knowledge of disabilities, and what they do know only comes from what they have been exposed to in their day to day lives. Jordan seeks to shows us that these thoughts are false and that he is here and living his most authentic life.
I think what makes this film really stand out compared to other documentaries is how aware Jordan is. While some documentary films are simply a camera following and observing, maybe even getting interviews with family and friends, Perfectly Normal gets all its information from the source. Jordan is aware that he has Asperger’s and that makes the film all the more interesting. We get to see a side of the syndrome that we would never get to see in other person that suffer because of his awareness. He tells us about the times when he struggles to talk to people. This isn’t surprising to us because it is common knowledge that relationships aren’t easier for those with autism but what we don’t know is that he wants to talk to people so badly. He desperately wants to have interactions and because of his awareness he can take steps to insure that he doesn’t stay in solitude.
The purpose of Perfectly Normal was purely to educate. With Jordan as our teacher there’s no telling how much more there’s still to learn.