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The Paralympics - Reinforcing Attitudes Towards Disability

I boycotted the Olympics because of the involvementof ATOS. I was going to boycott the Paras for the same reason only listening to friends and adding my own prejudices I added Dow, McDonalds and Coca Cola to the mix.

Then I started to change my mind. Someone said the fourth principle of the Paras is equality. I can support that. Then articles on access started to appear in the press and media. Even Disabled People Against Cuts and other activists groups began to get a mention. I can go with all this. Maybe the paras were going to be a good thing after all.

My vacillation on this point took another turn. The Paras were going to change attitudes towards Disabled People forever. I felt uneasy with that. Certainly the promotion of the Super Human wasn't to my taste. It chimed with the other thing that the fourth estate had been so careful to avoid but which had now started to ring out loud and clear. Specialness, bravery, courage, overcoming tragedy, extraordinary achievement in the face of insurmountable odds, were all mentioned as luvvies took to the stage. What's David Beckham doing on that advert? What's all that about? Suddenly the tragedy model was - the old way of seeing Disabled People - the ingrained attitude; had become prominent again.

I'm turning away from the Paras again now but i'm hoping for better stuff still. What will swing it for me one way or the other. I went out last night to see a movie. I missed most of the opening ceremony but i was up for catching what was left of it at a friends house where a party to watch the ceremony was in full swing. I arrived in time for the march of the athletes - a boring parade of waving, fist pumping, gurning Crips that received the following comments from the gathered flippant, jovial guests:

  • "Who let that one out?
  • What's that one going to do? They certainly won't be doing the hop, skip and juimp without legs
  • Look at that
  • What a shame
  • What a mong
  • Spot the looney"

Except there are not going to be any Mental Health Service Users. They do not participate in the games. If i recall the history of the Paras correctly, People with Learning Disabilities were banned because of the ease with which non Disabled People iinvaded this category and left countries open to accusations of cheating. And what of Deaf People? 

So, now i'm feeling Super Human my backside. This is no more than the passage of the Super Freak - an elite determined by an eligibility of criteria based on impairment - 'the deserving disabled'.

What could possibly be worse than this but the sudden appearance of David Cameron, sitting close to Wills whose brother had nominated a carrier of the torch because of heroics in Afganistan (still potentially an illegal war that goes about its daily grind of impairing people). Yes that Cameron, the one who had appointed ATOS to get Disabled People off benefits, the one who fails to take action against ideas expressed on all sides of the house and on all sides of the media that Disabled People are really no better than work shy scoungers who really need to be left without an income until they find a job in a society that freely discriminates against us. The same Cameron who is cutting services to Disabled People. Only on this day hadn't I advocated for someone who had her care provision cut from 210 hours per week to 35.

Now my mind is made up. I'm with DPAC, Black Triangle, UK Uncut, Social Welfare Union. These games are not going to change attitudes. They are going to reinforce them. Get a job Scounger. The Super Humans can do this. Why can't you do that?

Posted by Rich Downes, 30 August 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 1 September 2012

Documentary Evident - Searching For Sugar Man

As a reader of friday and weekend reviews I have noticed a hunger for documentaries. My initial feeling about this was pphhhfffff!!!! so what. But is seems that I have finally succumbed and i blame the wife who took me to see Marley earlier in the year.


Last night we went to see Searching.... at the Curzon Soho and stumbled upon an extraordinary story which i'll spend some time on later but first the Curzon Soho. I'm no expert on access and i would need someone to back this up and find the faults that I did not see but I remember a ramped entrance, a lift that i presume serves all floors and extremely comfortable seating. I also encountered great staff attitudes. Holding up the queue to enquire about concessisons I was told about the CA Card - anyone know what a CA Card is and where to get one from? Then we tried to wrangle a cheaper ticket on the basis of our extreme age. They've even got a membership deal on that. Sadly its time restricted. Clearly us Oldies have to be in bed early, don't like West End crowds and have no day time jobs to go to - well, that sums me up but, what about others.


Anyway, Sugar Man. It hinges on 4 mysteries. Who is Sugar Man? Where is Sugar Man? Does Sugar Man still exist? Was there ever a Sugar Man? Or that is what they would have you believe. In solving the riddle however you become exposed to other stories that are key for art. This story is based within South Africa but reaches out to America. It is told in film, home movies, old news reels, photographs and animation. It takes us back to 1971. South Africa is a repressive, extremely conservative regime, a narrator says that its policies stem from Nazi Germany. Culturally censorship is king. The wife later tells me that she modelled in Mauritius sometime and parts of her body where blacked out in SA. She was modelling swimwear. It seems crazy. But what impact does this have. Not just on the indigenous population which is well known but on the powerful minority. Sugar Man does not sell. Why should he? The grooves of the record are scratched out. None should hear about sex or drugs it would seem. And so it is that rock and roll itself goes unheard. But then piracy through home taping takes off. Home taping brings life to music. Every home has three records. Abbey Road, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Cold Facts by Sugar Man. Whose name incidentally is not Sugar Man. Sugar Man sells millions in SA but only about 6 copies in the States so the recording career comes to an end but the artefact becomes ever more powerful. The records influence causes a growth in art. Art becomes associated with rebellion. There are good Afrikaans and later they begin the search.


Ultimately Sugar Man is found. This is what the reviewers tell you. He is found just over half way through the film. So the mystery is resolved. Might as well pack up and go home now. But wait. Part two. What happens next? This is where the extraordinary becomes miraculous but we are sophisticates. We do not believe in miracles. So, you don't need to know what it is. You don't need to know what warmed my heart. And even if you did you wouldn't want me to spoil it for you. So go see. Its heavily recommended.

Posted by Rich Downes, 30 August 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 30 August 2012