WARNING: “disability theme”

actors with wheelchairs, with disability theme warning box

A new UK film, “Special People”, has had a special warning slapped on it by the film classification board.

The film, which casts actors with disabilities in a comedy about film-making, continues to carry the warning, because the Board only withdrew the note after the publicity material was printed.

The BBC reports:

A film that stars disabled actors has caused controversy because it was given a 12A rating warning viewers that disabled people were featured in it.

Special People, which was largely shot in Worcestershire, is one of the first movies to use disabled lead actors, its director has said.

But its stars said it was unfair they were singled out by an advisory note. […]

Director Justin Edgar, who is originally from Handsworth, in Birmingham, said: “It premiered last night and we have already had complaints from the actors and some disability groups in the audience who were angry about the advisory note warning people that disabled actors were used.

Special People film director Justin Edgar
Mr Edgar said he was one of the first to cast disabled actors as the leads

“You don’t get films with black people or women being categorised in this way, so why do it for films with disabled people in them?”

Here’s the trailer.

[via Disaboom.]

Categories: arts & entertainment, social justice

Tags: , , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. Maybe the problem was the use of actors with REAL disabilities, rather than able-bodied actors pretending they have disabilities.
    I was openly shocked to watch Children of a Lesser God on DVD and discover that actor Marlee Matlin is DEAF! We should have been warned before allowing our children to be exposed to a realistic portrayal of these crips having a normal life instead of the proper super-crip spin of appropriately fake performances by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man and Tom Hanks’ “full retard” in Forest Gump… [yadda yadda yadda]

  2. Sorry, both of those examples won Oscars so that should be “HALF retard”…

  3. WTF!? Who the hell thinks that disability in a movie needs to be warned against? I’ve seen privilege manifest itself in some pretty crazy ways, but this– just, GUH. What’s next? Warnings on movies that contain real live fat people?

  4. And Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot Deus. In fact pretending to have a disability for the sake of the cameras elicits all sorts of oohs and aahs and “isn’t he clever” and nary a sign of a warning. This is just horrible.

  5. censorship is inherently stupid, so stupid things happen. At least this will do them good in the long run

  6. I think any guide book of ‘Pointless Warnings’ should include that one.
    Pathetic. At this rate they’ll shortly be issuing a sticker for our family car saying “Autism Onboard”
    Grendel’s last blog post..Sunday!!!

  7. ?? Do who good?
    Just thinking more about DM’s point above – it is a sign of how deeply entrenched is the idea that the disability is the person when you hire able actors who then put most of their energy into (and receive the most attention and praise for) “acting disabled”.
    And yeah I think you have it exactly with “Super-crip spin”. It is the fact that disability (and braveness in face of, remarkable achievement in spite of blah de blah) is not the entire focus of the film that is probably so confronting. How dare they a) be actual people with disabilities ad b) not exist entirely for the education, wonderment and inspiration of able people.

  8. LOL Grendel. As long as it’s not “psychopath behind wheel”. =8-)

  9. Looks like a brilliant fillum. I hope it gets released here. Why they felt the need to ‘warn’ people they would be watching people in wheelchairs I don’t know. Did they think people might walk out of the cinema or something?

  10. Urgh words fail me. That is one of the stupidest things I’ve seen…

  11. What next, warning labels on Torchwood because an openly queer man is portraying a queer character? Sheesh.

  12. I love the lines “Do you know what it’s like to be in a wheelchair?” [beat] “Yeah.”
    *sigh* I can’t even understand the logic. “We did it before and no one complained!”
    Ah well. Perhaps I can get that on a t-shirt. – “Sex references and disability theme” kinda sums up my life right there. ;)

  13. Ah well. Perhaps I can get that on a t-shirt. – “Sex references and disability theme” kinda sums up my life right there. ;)

    Anna, get thee to your local one-off T-shirt printing place!

  14. Whole new levels of stupid and offensive. And in a country that could actually use some more warnings.
    Warning: Excessive toilet humour
    Warning: Unrestrained BBC costume department
    And I sure there are many others that would be far more informative.
    Ariane’s last blog post..Closer and closer

  15. Hmmm…
    The BBC shows Something Special on CBeebies all the time, every day, (yes I am a bad mother and let my two year old watch telly most days), which features children with ranges of disability. Considering this, it makes no sense at all that they would have felt the need to warn viewers about disabled actors.

  16. More ideal warning notices, after Ariadne:
    Warning: this ‘comedy’ not actually funny
    Warning: stereotyping, cliches and lazy director involved
    Warning: conceived soley as a vehicle for *insert big-name star here*
    The BBFC should be ashamed of themselves.

  17. Kids, don’t look, some people are disability-ing, blatantly.


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