It's been a bad week if you're sensitive to offensive language. I've heard words and phrases used on the telly at tea-time while I was trying to watch my nice, inoffensive, Home & Away that almost had me bringing my tea back up.
Has the watershed been lifted? Are you now allowed to say "pissshitwankbollockscuntfucktwat" before 9pm? No. But regular readers should know that those words don't bother me anyway, and are in fact a regular part of my vocabulary.
So what happened? Well... Christopher Reeve, the world's most famous cripple, passed away. This of course gave newsreaders nationwide a chance to flex their offensive language muscles, and they took great advantage of the opportunity. During the news before Home & Away I was subjected to the phrase "wheelchair bound" and in the five hourly news bulletin straight afterwards they really outdid themselves bringing "confined to a wheelchair" into play.
As if his departure wasn't enough for one week, Inside I'm Dancing hit cinema screens nationwide on Friday. If you've failed to hear the controversy surrounding this film you must've been living under a rock. Or repeatedly clicking "refresh" on my blog page hoping I'd write something, which of course I failed to do for 9 days.
If you haven't heard all about it and feel the need to do some background reading, here are some worthwhile articles:
A blog entry by Emma Kennedy
An article from bbc.co.uk/ouch
An article from BBC News Online
Of course, whenever disability becomes noteworthy, there'll always be someone like those pricks responsible for the news on five that think terms derogatory to disabled people are acceptable. In relation to Inside I'm Dancing, the big offender has to be The Evening Standard with their review. The headline "Wheelchair rebels at large" could've been meant as an ironic take on how the world views disabled people wanting to lives their own lives as being "difficult" - but having read on, I doubt that was the case. Not a paragraph goes by without the words "brave", "sufferer", "carer", etc. being liberally used.
Oh, if only I had the power to edit that list of words that shouldn't be broadcast/published. You'd be hearing "cunt" on the Six O'Clock news, but never again would you be subjected to the sound of the word "brave". Oh yes.
I saw the film this evening. I have to confess that I've never been a fan of the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude. Or at least not since my learning support assistant in primary school would repeatedly tell me I should be nice to everyone all the time, whilst she was stabbing me in the back with her fingernails and bollocking me for having crap handwriting. "Do as I say, not as I do" basically sums up the film.
"Give disabled people rights. Let them live independently. Look - they even experience lust. What, give them a role in a film about them? Are you mad? They're only fucking cripples!"
I have to confess, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. Shame about the acting. Neither of the main characters had me believing they might actually be disabled. Especially James McAvoy, who was supposed to be playing someone with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, yet visibly every muscle in his body was operating at full strength and clenched tightly. It just reminded me of bullies and their piss-poor impairment mimicking in the playground, accompanied by shouts of "handicapped spastic baby!"
The film was sold out, and it was quite distressing to notice the prejudice of the entire audience. For instance I was the only person in the room to laugh at Carrigmore's subtitle "A special place for special people". The one truly funny joke in the film. Yet bring on the suggestion that a crip likes looking at pictures of naked women - that's a hilarious notion! The simple act of driving an electric chair as fast as it will go and stopping suddenly was even enough to make this audience howl. If that's a hilarious act, howcome my childhood was so bloody miserable? Surely my Turbo should've kept me amused until puberty... And then there was that scene where the woman in the pub cringes at the thought of having to kiss a "spaz" - I thought the woman sitting next to me in the cinema might piss herself.
I said I was surprised by how much enjoyed the film - remember my expectations going into the auditorium were incredibly low. Needless to say I wasn't surprised with the scene in which the supermarket-shelf-stacker-turned-PA is giving Michael an impromptu speech therapy session in the kitchen. Because, of course, all disabled people could be normal if they just tried a bit harder. I nearly vomited into my empty popcorn bucket. Nor was I surprised by the outcome of the "who'll get the girl?" subplot.
Still, at least no-one threw spare change at me as I was leaving the cinema. Nor commended me on going out by myself. And, unlike when I left the cinema after Unbreakable, no-one looked like they wanted to kill me either. All of which I suppose are silver linings.