Comedian Rosie Jones faces backlash over ableist slur in title of new Channel 4 documentary
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Comedian Rosie Jones has sparked outrage due to the title of her Channel 4 documentary, because it contains an ableist slur. The documentary from Jones, who has ataxic cerebral palsy, is named ‘Rosie Jones: Am I A R*tard’.
She said: “The title of the film has a very shocking word in it, the R word. And I get it, a lot of people will find this word very shocking and upsetting. But, in my opinion, society doesn’t take this word and other ableist forms of language as seriously as any other form of abuse from any other minorities.
”So, I said to Channel 4: ‘Let’s do it, let’s tackle the problem head on and use that word in the title and then, hopefully, people will think twice about using the word and other ableist slurs ever again’.”
People have been sharing their thoughts on the name, with autistic activist and author Sarah O’Brien saying: “We’re not at a point of being able to reclaim or use the r-word. It still severely harms members of the disabled community, particularly those with a learning disability.”
Fashion and beauty influencer, Shelby Lynch, spent some time working on the programme and was among those with concerns over the title. She eventually pulled out of filming.
She said: “The last few months have been very emotionally draining for me and two of my other amazing disabled friends. As some of you may know we were asked to take part in a documentary about Ableism and Online Trolling with a well known disabled comedian.
“Talking about ableism on mainstream TV, it’s obviously something that needs to be discussed but the way it’s happened isn’t something that I can support and all three of us spoke out against them.
“We were told a few months ago that the documentary was going to include a slur that is used against disabled people and I was heartbroken. I didn’t want anything to do with the documentary unless the name was changed and we went backwards and forwards for what feels like forever.”
A spokesperson for Channel 4 said: “This film is an authored documentary by Rosie Jones to raise awareness and educate viewers about the issue of ableism and the scale of abuse she and other disabled people face daily. The use of the R-word in the documentary is within the context of the subject matter being explored and specific to the abuse Rosie receives on social media.
“The film makes very clear it is an unacceptable and offensive ableist term and its inclusion was carefully considered in conversations with the editorial team, Rosie and a disability consultant.”