Rosie Jones Channel 4 documentary criticised for using ableist slur

This article contains reference to an ableist slur.

A new Channel 4 documentary with comedian Rosie Jones has been criticised for its title which features an ableist slur.

Several contributors have dropped out of the upcoming TV show after creators stuck with the name 'Rosie Jones: Am I A R*tard?'.

In a video posted on her social channels, the comedian, who has cerebral palsy, explained the reasoning behind the title.

"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," the 33-year-old said.

"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’."

The documentary, which aims to educate viewers on the abuse disabled people face, dives into the daily, online abuse Jones herself faces.

But at least three contributors have pulled out of the project over its title.

Shelby Lynch, a fashion and beauty influencer with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2, described feeling "heartbroken" when she found out about the use of the slur.

"I didn't want anything to do with the documentary unless the name was changed," she wrote, "to be included in the documentary with the title as it is made me so angry and upset!".

Dancer, model and disabled activist Kate Stanforth shared a similar post. She wrote: "There have been a number of issues raised with this process [...] this includes a lengthy discussion on why we think the title will be damaging to the disabled community".

While disabled model and content creator Lucy Dawson wrote on her Instagram story: "I do think the doc will be brilliant & discuss real important topics which is why it’s even more of a shame to use that title – I definitely won’t be watching because it’s gonna be too triggering regardless of if it’s good or bad for me now because of what went on behind the scenes – a lot of what I haven’t even scratched the surface with."

While those online have shared their anger and disappointed at the title choice.

Channel 4 defended the title choice, a spokesperson told ITV News: "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 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."

On the withdrawal of contributors, the channel said: "We have removed the contributors from the documentary at their request and fully respect their decision to withdraw."

An exact air date for the show is yet to be released, with promo stating it will be on screens "soon".


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