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Rosie Jones defends title of TV documentary

Rosie Jones

Rosie Jones has defended her upcoming documentary after a backlash over a controversial word in its title.

The comedian, who has cerebral palsy, presents Rosie Jones: Am I A R*tard? airing on Channel 4 next week which reveals the amount of online abuse disabled people can be exposed to.

But the use of the term ‘Retard’ in the title, used as an ableist slur, has not only drawn criticism on social media but also seen a number of people scheduled to appear in the documentary pull out.

Influencers Shelby Lynch, Kate Stanforth and Lucy Dawson who contributed to the documentary have asked not to be associated with the programme because they believe it would be “damaging to the disabled community”.

Addressing the complaints over the use of the offensive word Rosie told the Press Association (via Evening Standard) she “wanted to take control” of the derogatory term so people will “realise how offensive it is”.

“I need to say, first and foremost: it was my choice, my idea,” Jones said. “I really wanted to take control of it and say, ‘This is not OK’…  I understand that some people may be offended, or will be very upset by it, but at the same time, it is unfortunately still a word that has been used every day towards me.

“I fundamentally believe that people don’t take ableist slurs as seriously as other slurs, so I decided to put it in the title so that hopefully people will still realise how offensive it is.”

She added: “This might sound very rude, I do hope disabled people watch, but if I’m being honest, this documentary is not for disabled people, ‘cause they already know all this shit. They don’t need to be reminded of the shit we deal with every day.

“This is a film for non-disabled people who don’t know what ableism is… It is for non-disabled people who think it’s OK to sling that term and other equally abusive, ableist words in the pub willy-nilly. It is for them to see that it’s not OK.”

In a previous interview Jones said the use of the offensive word will hopefully make people think twice about using the word and other ableist slurs ever again”.

A statement issued by Channel 4 said:  “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.”

[ Rosie Jones: Am I A R*tard? is on Channel 4, Thursday 20 July at 10pm ]

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