I’m Spazticus: In the run up to the Paralympics, Channel 4 fails to impress
I was unpleasantly surprised. When I first heard the format of I’m Spazticus, I had high hopes for the programme. Disabled people pranking non-disabled people? That’ll be a laugh, I thought. That’ll turn stereotypes upside down.
I even overlooked the title. That was until my friend pointed out quite rightly that no one would make a programme about black people pranking white people with a title containing the ‘N’ word. So, I realised, why does the title make reference to that old insult that physically disabled people have worked so hard to get rid of? But then, Channel 4 have quite a history of getting disability-related titles wrong, don’t they?
If it’s being shown as a lead up to the Paralympics, though, why couldn’t they have called it I’m Paralympus? That would have been much more positive and inclusive of all disabilities.
Then I watched the last episode. I was expecting it to make me smile, at least. Instead, I spent the whole thing shaking my head, feeling like screaming.
I watched in wonder as a talking guide dog was asked for directions by a man who treated him more like a person than he did his owner. As any guide dog owner will tell you, many of them, unfortunately, experience this often in real life. Few of them find it funny.
In the very next scene, I held back screams as we were introduced to a (thankfully) fictional charity called the Guide Dwarves Association. I watched as a real person who really has dwarfism was led around on a lead as a blind person carried a charity box, complete with encouraging comments like ‘good dwarf’ in the tone all dog owners use to their pets. So, a dog was being treated like a person, while a disabled person was treated like a dog. Again, all that will do to stereotypes is reinforce them. To me, it’s about as funny as spoiled milk.
Then there was the lineup of dwarves in the police station where one of the captions was ‘Sleepy? Only with women who say no.’ This made the feminist in me scream as well!
The movie trailer sketch at the end was simply pointless. It informed us that if you take the ‘d’ and the ‘f’ out of dwarf, you get war. Then dwarves were shown shooting each other. The title of the movie? Born on the Dwarf of July.
If, as I heard, the Restricted Growth Association were offended by the comedy series Life’s Too Short, I imagine this programme will lead to many more complaints than that ever did.
If this is Channel 4’s lead up to the Paralympics, I hate to think what their coverage will be like. But then, as I told my friend, nothing surprises me with Channel 4. I’ve never really liked the way they cover disability, but recently, I thought they were making some progress in this area. Sadly, though, just a week before covering the biggest event in disability sport, they are back to their old ways.
And readers, before you tell me to grow a sense of humour, let me just tell you that the friend I had this conversation with is non-disabled.Tagged in: channel 4, disability, I’m Spazticus, paralympics, stereotypes
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