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A Review Of I’m Spazticus Episode 2

August 21, 2012

Yesterday afternoon, I had a very interesting conversation with a good friend. She had seen Sunday night’s episode of I’m Spazticus, which I had missed. She told me that it was very disablist.

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 tonight’s 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.

Cross posted at the Independent blogs.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2012 8:19 am

    Thanks for writing this. Chose not to watch, reading your review glad I didn’t!

  2. David James permalink
    August 21, 2012 9:28 am

    Did you not do a simple Google search on I’m Spazticus, and fin the Ian Dury song? Hence where the title came from. A Disabled man singing about disabilities.

  3. August 21, 2012 6:03 pm

    I found it funny. Speaking from the point of view of someone who is blind the guide dog thing was highlighting what actually happens to people, it wasn’t saying “you should talk to a person’s guide dog” it was instead pointing out how stupid it is when people do. And the guide dwarf thing…well these actors have chosen to be in the show, they are independent thinkers and clearly it doesn’t bother them. Personally what I think we should take from it is that these people are working in the spotlight and clearly doing it successfully, surely that’s something to be happy about?

    The blind jokes were just funny. I think people get too up tight about stuff, it’s a laugh, 99% of blind people make the worst jokes about one another, it’s actually quite good to see something like it on tv instead of everyone having to tiptoe round the issue.

  4. lawrence permalink
    August 23, 2012 11:22 pm

    get a grip these are real disabled people making a programe they havent been forced into it ,, can disabled people not be comiedians now ..

  5. September 3, 2012 1:43 am

    We thought that this series was absolutely superb ! Was great to see disabled talent on our TV ! Am sure that they had a great time in the making of this program most certainly looked like they did! Well done to all involved – Alfred Titchcock -The Cockney Cripple, Edwardo scissor Hands, Team Dwarf, The Foot Guard, Tim and Allen his guide Dog and Max his guide dwarf !! Genius – hahahaha ……..

  6. legitimidget permalink
    July 2, 2013 5:34 pm

    Your fascist I apologize if you think I am wrong ?
    But you don’t understand that the people who play a part in these prank clips enjoy it and plus it shows we can have a laugh!!!
    Being disabled myself I prank and joke about with my own disability with other random people in the street!
    It helps the day go by. But EVERYBODY is different
    With personality/humor/looks/thinking…..the list goes on and on
    Why judge what you see on Tv?
    it’s a box for ENTERTAINMENT
    if you don’t like what you see turn the channel over ? Simple?
    I very much enjoyed the program. well done guys. You got big gumption. And doing something interesting with your life’s big up 🙂


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