“Ben Affleck’s new thriller The Accountant plays up the positives in portraying an adult with autism: His character Christian Wolff is a math savant and genius bookkeeper with movie-star looks to boot, despite that dorky pocket protector,” usatoday.com opines. “But Wolff’s line of work, combing through the books for powerful crime families, and his use of multiple military-style firearms, required filmmakers to walk a careful line in the action film, which opens Friday in theaters nationwide.”

Apparently making a movie with an autistic hero who “kills with unblinking lethalness” wasn’t a problem.

Autism has been inaccurately implicated in the media as a cause of extreme violence, says Laurie Stephens, director of clinical services for Education Spectrum, an Altadena, Calif., therapeutic center for autism, and a liaison on the film. She cites reports about the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, which focused on perpetrator Adam Lanza’s Asperger’s diagnosis.

I’m confused. What part of those reports was inaccurate?

It’s certainly true that people with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. And socio- and psychopaths are Hollywood staples. And the accountant in question is a hero. But is this character really OK in Tinsel Town — an enclave whose residents are OK with guns in movies but not in real-life Americans’ hands?

The fine line Director Gavin O’Connor has to walk: placating Hollywood anti-gunners while exploiting autism for commercial gain. This is how he does it:

“There’s absolutely no relationship between violence like this and having an autism spectrum disorder or Asperger’s,” says Stephens. But “it’s definitely going to be a concern” when a movie presents a character with autism who has guns “and who engages in this kind of aggression/violence.”

Affleck’s accountant takes out sinister figures with kill shots to the head, but “what I think was well done was that there was an explanation here,” says Stephens. To protect him from bullying, Wolff’s father instills a fighting mindset that evolves into a strong sense of self-preservation in adulthood.

“He’s not out there randomly killing people,” Stephens says . . .

“I took great sensitivity making sure the script was bulletproof so that the audience would understand what’s motivating the violence. To me, in telling the story, the violence had nothing to do with Asperger’s syndrome.” . . .

Bulletproof. Heh. Despite the prevarication and spin doctoring, I’m sure there’s only one real concern for the movies’ creators: ticket sales.

50 Responses to The Accountant Takes Heat for Portraying an Autistic Using Heat

    • Autism places you in a protected class and as we all know all members of protected classes can never hurt anyone.

      • Pretty much.

        A person with autism attacks you, you defend yourself, you’re likely to be in more trouble than said attacker.

        • Being attacked by an autistic or other special needs person was something that happened to me a few times in my time as a para transit driver. I drove the cage car.

          When they attack they’re all in. I’ve had them try to jam their fingers into my eyes, bite, etc. At the same time I’m trying to control them without hurting them. It’s a hell of a balancing act and I finally got to old for that life. I quit and got a less strenuos job.

        • jwm is right. With some autistic kids, when they get violent and act out because they lack the verbal communication skills and are upset that they are being ignored/wronged, they can go all in. And because of how they feel/don’t feel pain, you can’t discipline them as you would the average child. All you can do is restrain them and accept the abuse.

          Incidentally, I am good at knowing what buttons not to push with my son, but my ex is a moron. She’ll push a bad position and then struggles to deal with the outburst.

        • This is why I got out of EMS. Dealing with mental cases and drugged out crazies and tweakers that are trying to kill me and my partner while we are trying to restrain them without harm. It’s damn near impossible to do and god help you with the media lynching you’ll get when you try and strap down a mental case who though you were the literal devil. Never mind he just mauled you and your partner and it was in everyone’s best interest to get him stopped as a threat to himself and others. Not nearly enough money to deal with that toxic juggling act.

    • I volunteered at a horseback riding center for handicapped kids in high school. Far more often than not, the autistic kids were the most friendly and easy to work with. But I also saw a couple of them get mad which was…scary to say the least.

      • In a weird way they seem to have a developed sense of what is right & wrong. And if they think they’ve been wronged, fights on and they get locked into a revenge loop. They don’t seem to understand what actions brought them to the moment and only focus on what was done to them. Once we started reviewing my son’s cause & effect and get him to focus on empathy were we able to improve his socialization.

    • Psychiatrists, once those neurotic rich folks realized psychotherapy didn’t work, needed to go looking for a way to enhance their income. One of the results was the invention of the “Autism Spectrum Disorders” that resulted in the vast expansion of the number of children who could be diagnosed as autistic and so come under the care of psychiatrists.

      Obviously, people with severe autism need special care, but at the high end of the spectrum, especially Asperger’s Syndrome, they have included people who are just socially awkward or uncomfortable, not just those like “Rain Man”. Many people on the high end of the Asperger’s Syndrome symptoms might go their entire lives without being diagnosed or even noticed other than being a little odd by usual social standards. This is certainly not a level of “mental disease” that would even remotely qualify for consideration of (unconstitutional) denial of their Second Amendment protected right to keep and bear arms.

  1. My wife has worked with adults and children with autism her entire adult life, and just like typically developing people, violence is mostly a learned behavior.

    It’s mostly due to poor parenting, rather than the disorder itself, the disorder only compounds it. Which really isn’t different than violence with typically developing people.

    • When my wife went back to work after the kids were old enough, she worked as a teaching assistant in a special needs classroom, which include some very seriously handicapped kids, and most with some form of autism. Over the years that she worked there, there was only on boy, who was a rather large boy, who was too uncontrollable to remain.

      • Yes, the system tries to give these kids as much of a normal school experience as possible. Transport is done by bus and van until one becomes a danger to themselves or others. Which is where I came in. I drove a retired cop crown vic complete with cage back seat.

        I drove in multiple cities in the bay area and the kids I carried(not just kids. I also did adults from places like jail to a mental health facility) were a threat to themselves, mostly, or others. Kids that would attempt to exit a vehicle while it was moving in freeway traffic. Or couldn’t be transported with others for various reasons. Not all these kids were autistic.

        I also transported adults from various institutions and even made court appearances with them. Which gives me some insight to the minds of some of our trolls.

  2. Great movie, Young Ben Affleck was played by a Sean Lee who happened to be in the theater yesterday when I watched it. The only thing that pissed me off was the beginning of the movie had pew pew sounds from suppressed guns and the full auto at the end had full noise and foot long flash out of a suppresed SBR. As far as Autism diagnosed people using GUNS, they are individuals some are dangerous some are harmless and all need to be taught right from wrong from an early age. If you have an autistic child and can’t do this yourself seek out professional help and don’t expect meds to parent your child.

  3. As someone who has Asperger’s and also carries a gun.. I don’t see the problem with this movie. It’s people who don’t have the disorder trying to justify things they don’t understand. Someone with Austism can be responsible with a gun, possibility more so then your average person. My day is dictated by my ‘rules’.. Rules I can’t break. Like I can’t just leave my gun just lying out. It has to go in it’s place when I’m not wearing it. If I was to leave it on the table, I would probably have a anxiety attack until it was put in it’s proper place.

    • Haven’t seen film. Have had autistic students. All were non violent, focused, smart.Let’s not forget there are different degrees of autism.

  4. My son has mild form of Aspergers. At four he could spell a thousand words. He’s eight now and can catalog over a thousand characters, what their speciality is and how to employ them in a computer game. From 7 in the morning to bedtime his mind is always engaged in how to win, and around 5 pm he laps the back yard reviewing all the material absorbed into his brain for the day.

    The hardest thing we, and his school does is work to socialize him with other children. Over the years we seen a vast improvement from zero participation to being involved in social events and now standing up and telling jokes.

    I will say it takes great effort to socialize him and cannot thank my wife, the school (public) enough.

    • Lego therapy works, in my opinion. Kids can build separately but also together. They play parallel until they are ready to play with each other.

      • VERY true. What I find remarkable is how his brain excels in one area (so far ahead in organization) and has difficulty connecting with others. My daughter, same age is a social butterfly, flips the radar on scans, then works the room. She’s quietly aggressive, wonderful eye hand coordination, works to win with the team and unbelievably creative. My son, direct and obsessively focused in a solo effort to win in a narrowly defined goal. Hope to get him into fantasy football or chemistry.

    • He’s technically right, but it’d be rather hilarious to see someone prosecuted for reading the same shit Hillary got off Scott free sending over unsecure channels in the first place then lying to congress under oath about; I don’t think they are quite so bold to press the issue, just yet

      • No he is not technically right, he goes on to claim “the media can do it because we’re different. You should only trust us to tell you what’s in those emails”. Just more collusion from the Clinton News Network.

    • Heh… yeah man these regressive shills in the media are really throwing every shred of credibility out of the window in this rush to defend Hillary. It would be funny if we weren’t on the edge of WW3 thanks to the lies of the US Federal Government.

    • November 9th, the big hangover for MSM including FOX News. Utopia wears off, stuttering words at the teleprompter, blank stare in the camera. How was it possible Shrillary was defeated…THE MONSTER VOTE is coming and we’re bringing sanity with us.

  5. I heard the movie sucked, and the aspy-James-Bond premise seems very corny, which seemed to agree with those reports. We gonna get an awesome Ralph review on this one? Take up a collection for bus & ticket fare!

  6. I once had a doctor with Asperger’s. No kidding. She couldn’t look me in the eye and was very quirky, but she was a terrific physician.

  7. It’s a movie-nothing more. My son has never been diagnosed with AS but exhibits some traits. Nicest kid in the world. And many years ago I worked at a large mental health / developmentally disabled facility with(undiagnosed then) residents. Some hyper violent-some docile with the same diagnosis. As mentioned parents are KEY. Not Hollyweird…

  8. “…would understand what’s motivating the violence.”

    So as long as the violence is for “good” it’s ok? Got it now. Can I get you to sign that on my CC permit?

  9. Autism is actually a positive trait in combat. Automatically track how much ammo you’ve got left, emotional uncertainty suppressed in favor of action, and crazy focus. Alot of sci fi stories have it purposely induced in soldiers.

    • That last sentence, go read Vernor Vinge’s “Zones of Thought” works, “A Deepness in the Sky”, where his serial protagonist encounters a society that uses techniques they called “Focusing”, i.e. inducing extreme Aspergers like conditions on captives and tasking them with detail oriented tasks like signal interception and decryption, tactical planning, language translation and so on, at the expense of their social skills. Almost literally turns them into human computers.

      Thing is, given Vinge’s background as a working scientist and professor of mathematics at SDSU, his novels have actually been spot on predicting trends in emerging technology and their effects on society. He invented the concept of “cyberspace” with the novel “True Names”, which heavily influenced William Gibson when he wrote Burning Chrome and Neuromancer, which coined the terms cyberpunk and cyberspace in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

      His book, Rainbows End, seems to be hitting the mark in predicting a few trends, like the move towards autonomously driven vehicles, wearable computers, distributed ubiquitous computing, massive scale distance collaboration, and so on.

      It’s a pity he’s not more prolific, but what he has written are doozies.

  10. It’s a danged MOVIE!

    Where’s the outrage of showing people drinking or snorting or tranquilized people shooting up the place?

    Or the outrage in humanizing mobsters and gangs who kill with impunity as just guys trying to make a living.

    I’d much rather see an escapist film like this or Reacher instead of “real” drama that paints the character as controlled by evil weaponry.

  11. Generally, very low functioning autistic individuals are more likely to be violent. However, moderately to high functioning autistic individuals are pretty much no more dangerous than anyone else. Social skills may need to be actively learned but they usually can do very well, especially high functioning individuals (formerly asperger’s)

  12. I am a highly functioning individual with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Each person with an ASD will have his or her own pattern of autism. But a diagnosis of autism is often delayed.

    I was very lucky to finally figure out why I felt like I was from “another planet”. I was diagnosed after my 23 years in the military. I had always been a kick ass combat medic. At the fire team level, I almost always knew who fired how many rounds, what was left, and how much was inbound. I was always calm under fire, almost robotic. I had empathy, but not sympathy. I had a horrible bedside banter, but I always knew my stuff. I could close my eyes and “see” any reference material I ever read and perform any procedure that I was taught. I am glad my diagnosis was never revealed to the military, since I sought a private exam outside of TRICARE.

    No, I was NOT and operator, operating operationally. I was just some medic trying my best to support my team. I am a very accurate shot, but I fire slower than most. I am not a hero, nor would I EVER label myself as “high speed”.

    When I returned home after several deployments during my Active Duty time, I transferred to the Reserve. I continue to train in the military.

    I concurrently serve daily in the following capacity:
    I serve my community as a volunteer EMS provider. I am a trainer and a mid-level command officer in a very large, metropolitan area.

    I also serve as a full time government employee as an Information Technology Specialist for the nation’s largest law enforcement agency.

    I am a permanent foster parent, but I do not accept any money from the system.

    I am the COO of a local non-profit organization that educates large manufacturing facilities in waste reduction and diversion. Diverted materials are diverted for use at other non-profits (such as Habitat for Humanity)

    I am a life member of the NRA, and I contribute to my local Second Amendment Foundation.

    I do not have a jail record or any moving violations, only 2 parking tickets in my lifetime, both for parking too long at the LIBRARY!

    Oh, and I EDC, too.

    Please take a moment to clutch pearls in 3, 2, ………

  13. Asperger’s can be scary–I worked with a such a boy as a caretaker from the age of about 10 to 14ish. He was fine until his switch got flipped–then he went 100% psychopath/sociopath. Pure rage, zero capacity for rational thought. He was truly dangerous, a menace to society when he was in that zone. I once had to restrain him from running out into traffic when he decided to run away from home because he was so enraged at his mom (probably something related to video game restrictions).

    But outside that zone, he was pretty normal, other than the social awkwardness. He could easily be that sleeper who suddenly snaps one day and shoots up a school. What is society supposed to do with that? Put a kill chip in his brain and monitor him the rest of his life?

  14. What Hollywood doesn’t seem to understand is that someone who has high-level math skills would be bored in accounting.

    But then this is Hollywood – why would they bother to understand math any more than guns?

    • Did you see all that stuff he wrote on the wall? He made accounting look like sudoku, which I guess double entry accounting kind of is. Looks alot like a puzzle to me when his clients are trying to hide stuff. Affleck actually made math look like fun in that scene.

  15. I have Asperger’s and I have been shooting guns for over 5 years. Getting into shooting was one of the best things I ever did for myself. It helped me get over a lot of sensory issues that a lot of people on the autism spectrum struggle with on a daily basis. Even though I do have a temper at times, I do my best to keep my cool. Guns are an adrenaline rush (when shooting full-auto), and help me let go of my stress. I am a responsible gun owner, and I could school anyone on the NFA. But even as an autistic person, I am still terrible at algebra.

  16. More offended by the continuing Hollywood creation of ‘nerd’ characters by taking a very attractive actor or actress and adding glasses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *