Saturday, 14 July 2012

Quick Quiz

1)Think of ten famous comedians.
2)Think of ten famous comedians who are women.
2)Think of ten famous comedians who aren’t white.
4)Think of ten famous comedians who are gay.

You probably found that the list decreased as you continued. There is much better representation of the diverse world we’re living in on TV, but nowhere near enough. In comedy land the map is plotted by the comedy panel show.

There are so many of them that they produce the reference points needed to demonstrate the picture as it is not as it should be. It’s a winning formula which is so entrenched that commissioners are regurgitating it in everyway imaginable but not straying too far from the rule.

Now try this

Think of ten famous comedians who are disabled.

There are disabled comedians but TV makes people famous and so the list is redundant.You won’t see disabled people featured on TV because it’s TV and broadcasters are too busy trying to defend the “not enough women” questions.
Irony being what it is the disabled performers, actors, politicians, humanitarians and scientists are featured in comedy but it’s as the punchline not the person delivering the “gag”.  Nothing demonstrates this fact better than Susan Boyle. A woman with a learning disability and now global star, became famous because people laughed at her and then discovered how prejudiced they were. Her story was seen as inspirational to many and a fertile ground for cruel jokes to some.

You certainly won’t hear any of the disabled comics on the circuit complaining too loudly or too publicly because as I was told by a disabled comic “If they see you as being militant even the little work we do get quickly dries up” In the history of civil rights silence is a powerful weapon.

So there we have it.  Keep “them” off TV and everyone apparently feels more comfortable, everyone except the targets of the disablist jokes that is.

With approximately ten million disabled people in the UK the “joke” that is under-representation, like the disablist jokes this allows, just isn’t funny.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Beautiful people

Last night Emily was once again inconsolable. She'd had a great time in respite and aside from a backlash meltdown when she came home, understandable for someone who doesn't cope well with transitions, she'd really benefited from the break.

Yesterday though she was tired and emotional -in the actual, non drunk celebrity, use of that expression. She had raged a little and then became sad. We sat together and I hugged her and tried all the usual things that mothers try then Emily remembered Twitter. A few months ago after another similar night Emily sat beside me and as I was on the Social Network and said "write it Emily sad" I said lots of people will see this though. She repeated it so I did. The replies were instantaneous and overwhelmingly lovely.

Last night from her despair Emmy said "tell the people Emily is sad"

So I did. Ironically the first reply came from lovely @welsh_gas_doc I say ironically because one of the methods to calm Emmy is that she asks me to phone the Dr when she's struggling. Emily trusts Dr's she knows they make people better so from a lost remote control, to a broken printer, to sadness at me going away for work, Emmy asks for their imput. Before you worry that I'm actually phoning and wasting NHS resources, I'm not.

Suffice to say 3 years at Drama School are finally paying off :0)

We'd tried "phoning the Dr" already and so when lovely Dave appeared sending a lovely message this was the first indicator to Emmy that all was well.

Then we were deluged again. Tweets full of kindness, virtual hugs, photos to make her smile and links to youtube clips to make her happy came in one after another.

By this time Em was laughing and I was crying. crying because with all the talk of restrictions and foulness and the darkness of some people intentions in cyber space, Social networking had demonstrated it's value in terms of our lives once again. People who don't know us wanted to send their friendship to a 15 year old learning disabled girl who was sad. For no reason other than their own humanity. This is a beautiful thing.

She settled and then she went to sleep. I stayed up a while and considered the flipside of internet trolling. The kindness is definitely worth enduring the cruelty of its cousin.

Peace of mind  restored in 140 characters of humanity you can't say fairer than that.