Autism in Wayne’s World?

Greetings Earthlings! 🙂

This week I’d like to discuss a potentially autistic character in the classic 90’s ‘Wayne’s World‘ films- Garth Algar played by Dana Carvey.

In case you’ve never seen Wayne’s World, the films are centred round metal loving best friends Wayne and Garth who have their own comedy public access TV show in Aurora, Illinois, often getting into weird and wacky situations. The duo are perhaps most famous for re-popularizing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in the 1990s in this iconic scene:

So where does autism come in?

While autism is never explicitly mentioned and little was relatively known about the condition at the time of filming, many have retrospectively concluded that Garth is quite likely on the autistic spectrum. A shy, awkward and uncoordinated nerd, Garth actively avoids eye contact (except with the camera), doesn’t like touching, often misses social cues and can be very literal in his thinking and resistant to change.

His iconic exchange with Kim Basinger, “So, would you like to have dinner one night? Garth: Oh, I like to have dinner every night“; is a classic Asperger’s moment. He also is very into his specialist interests like electronics and heavy metal, and has a wild imagination like many autists.

Here’s a clip from ‘Wayne’s World 2‘ which really showcases Garth’s awkwardness, mind blindness and literal thinking:

Interestingly, despite not intentionally seeking to depict autism, many autists consider Garth to be a very positive portrayal of the condition. Garth is seen as a little bit quirky, but is fully accepted by his friends. He has a job, a social life, and even manages to bag himself a couple of girlfriends. These are all “normal” positive things, the real lived experience of many of us late diagnosis autists. Too often in media portrayals of autism the characters are depicted as othered and often incapable of living independently, even today, so for films this old to have such a positive approach to neurodivergents is pleasantly refreshing.

Hope you enjoyed this post dear Earthlings! 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

Aoife

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