Sunday, 19 August 2012


Right just a pre warning that this a bit of a rant.

Channel 4, I'm so very disappointed with you. After praising you on the fabulous job you've done so far on promoting the Paralympics you've left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm of course referring to their new comedy show, apparently hilariously titled 'I'm Spazticus'. It's basically a hidden camera tv show where disabled actors play pranks on the public.

However, I'm not at all impressed with the down right offensive crassly named title. I've ranted on my Facebook and my Twitter but it wasn't cathartic enough so I've ended up writing here too. Now I like comedy, I love a laugh. However, I feel there is a line, and in this instance the line has been well and truly crossed.

Now in case you're not aware, 'spaz' is a term that is often used in the pejorative sense to mock someone. Similarly, the word 'spack' is also used interchangeably. Now the word stems from 'spasticity' which refers to unusual tightness of muscles. I have spastic hemiplegia cerebral palsy. Meaning the muscles on my left hand side of my body are affected by stiffness and tightness. So in essence, if you call someone a 'spaz' or 'spack' you are deeply offending people like me. 

I often challenge people when I see them using this word, and they reply it's just a word. It's not. Words have meaning and they are hurtful. I do not see why these words are so socially acceptable yet racist terms are so forbidden. It's double standards. I'm aware that this isn't just limited to disability, the word 'gay' is often used to describe something negatively.

Now, people defending the use of the title of this programme say that it's just comedy and that it's edgy. No, it's a cheap shot at people with cerebral palsy. When I hear someone use these words in real life, I freeze. I know I shouldn't take it to heart, but you do. It makes you wonder what people really think about disabled people. It also makes me worry that by using the word 'spaz' in their programme title it serves to normalize the word and before you know it it's bandied around feely again. I remember the uproar when C4 called a programme about dating with disability 'Undateables' there was a lot of uproar. In my opinion this is a hell of a lot worse. Kids with CP may have been taunted at school with this word (I was a few times) and to see it used as TV programme title is rubbing salt in the wound.

Anyway, I think I've rambled on enough.




  1. Ahhh don't appologise Amy! I f'ing hate that word! I hate it just as much as I hate racial/homophobic slurs. It's all too easy to say 'oh it's just a word' but words really really hurt people and shame on channel 4 with it's huge impact and influence for allowing it to be seen as 'just a word' when it's really not.



  2. Couldn't agree with you more Amy (and Sarah above). I never liked hearing it when I was a child (playgrounds can be hauntingly cruel places) and now that I have a son with hemiplegia my anger at such careless so-called humour has re-doubled. It is not appropriate to say to the offended that they need to get a sense of humour (a trite device used in all fields of prejudice) and people are right to take a stand against this offensively titled programme. It does normalize the term, and it will have re-fuelled the use of this ignorant insult. Shame on Channel 4, I echo your sentiments entirely.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.