A new Netflix film is under fire over a storyline involving a lead character pretending to be deaf.
Sierra Burgess is a Loser, starring Stranger Things breakout Shannon Purser and Noah Centineo, was slammed on social media by deaf model and activist Nyle DiMarco.
DiMarco's criticisms were aimed at a scene in which central character Sierra Burgess meets her love interest, Jamey, in person for the first time. Jamey is under the impression that he has been talking to another girl, as they have only chatted over the phone.
When they meet in person, Burgess pretends to be deaf so that Jamey won't recognise her voice. The punchline comes as Jamey's deaf younger brother instantly realises she is signing incorrectly.
Nyle DiMarco criticised the scene in a series of tweets.
"So one of my close friends' deaf brother is in Sierra Burgess," he said. "When I learned, I was elated. Finally more deaf actors/representation & ASL inclusion in films... Only to find out the deaf character was written and used for a terrible joke. PS- pretending to be deaf is NOT ok.
"There were homophobic and transphobic jokes as well," DiMarco noted. The film reportedly features multiple characters assuming Burgess is a lesbian based on her appearance.
"It is extremely easy to make jokes about marginalised/disfranchised groups, but that makes you a lazy writer," DiMarco said. "And honestly you shouldn't make these jokes AT ALL because our lives are on the line."