Revenge of the Electric Cart: A Short Film of Overcoming Through Hope and Joy

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By Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette

As a filmmaker, I’m fascinated–and often frustrated–by film and TV’s portrayal of people with chronic illness. Most stories fall into one of two camps. They either idolize the sufferer into an unrealistic “inspiration,” or they use what the person can’t do to evoke viewers’ pity.

As a filmmaker, I’m fascinated–and often frustrated–by film and TV’s portrayal of people with chronic illness. Most stories fall into one of two camps. They either idolize the sufferer into an unrealistic “inspiration,” or they use what the person can’t do to evoke viewers’ pity.

The thing is, people with chronic illnesses are just that: People. They aren’t trying to be an inspiration. They have good and bad days; they use workarounds to get what they need to do done. 

Which is why, when I wrote the script for Revenge of the Electric Cart, I wanted to tell a story about invisible illness that was different–that was true.

Revenge of the Electric Cart is based on my childhood growing up with a mom with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). My mom was diagnosed when I was 6 years old. The specialist who diagnosed her said that she’d be wheelchair-bound within a year, but she fought that diagnosis with determination and humor. Finally, she found a good treatment when I was around 11.

The short film shows some of what we went through during those difficult in-between years. The mother in the film drinks out of plastic sippy cups because my mom couldn’t grip a glass. The little girl helps pull her mom out of bed in the morning because that’s what I did every morning for years.

The script is the most intensely personal I’ve written. But it’s also one of the most joyful.

Because when I look back on my childhood, what stands out to me is how RA turned my mom and me into best friends. My mom couldn’t run around the playground, but she could encourage me to keep trying until I could cross the monkey bars by myself. When she went around the grocery store in an electric cart, we’d use it to play a harmless prank on fellow shoppers–hence, the short film’s title!

Shortly after I wrote Revenge of the Electric Cart, I sent it over to my mom. I knew I couldn’t make the short unless she approved. She didn’t just approve–she’s been one of my biggest fans. She told me that, even though the script isn’t exactly about us, the story is true.

So I hope this story rings true with everyone who eventually watches it, whether they have someone with an invisible illness in their life or not. I want to express what it’s actually like to live with RA, or any chronic illness for that matter–not as an inspiration or a condition worthy of pity, but a challenge that can be overcome with hope and joy.

10% of all donations between now and August 14 are graciously benefitting the Purple Playas Foundation.  To find out more about Revenge of the Electric Cart, visit the crowdfunding campaign link below.

Indiegogo Campaign:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/revenge-of-the-electric-cart

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