Disability hate crime is a grim topic here in the UK. Unlike the US where it’s existence goes largely unreported, because of the size of this country and the nature of the media, we hear about disability hate crime just enough to remember it is a thing, even if we don’t know what to do about it. As I started to mentally prepare myself and settle in for this exposé on a rather painful topic, I figured it was going to be a rough ride.
Adam Pearson, who hosts the show, is perhaps best known for his rather substantial role with Scarlet Johansson in Under the Skin. Pearson has severe facial disfigurement. It’s not the sort of thing you can turn a blind eye to and then smile and nod. I don't think he would want you to either. The fact his Adam’s face forces you to confront yourself, your own ugly side through inspecting your own prejudices, and react accordingly.
It goes without saying Pearson has had more than his fair share of bullying, and I was expecting to draw on his history of that. What I wasn’t expecting was him to be funny. Very funny.
Pearson does a remarkable job in presenting the ins and outs of a rather complex topic. Why aren’t disability hate crimes reported more often? What are the problems surrounding hate crime laws? What defines a hate crime. All of of these questions are answered clearly, with great visuals, and Adam’s own quirky sense as he tries to sort through an encounter of online hate speech directed at him.
There’s no getting around it, this guy is talented and is more engaging as a presenter than most. Here the BBC has a real opportunity to establish a new voice in mainstream media not just one for disability programming. The question is whether or not the establishment to face their own prejudices and give Pearson a chance that comes outside of ticking a box.
Before I wrap up this article, permit me to make one very negative comment about the title. I went back and looked at other BBC shows for comparison and can safely say now that the BBC seems to have its own hindrances when it comes to titles. I guess I shouldn’t be all that disappointed the shows appear besides other programmes entitles such as Some Girls, People Just Do Nothing, and my personal favourite, Dead Air. But in naming this program The Ugly Face of Disability Hate Crime the BBC inadvertently suggests that there is somehow a pretty face of disability hate crime, which I don’t think was ever the intention. But I’m beginning to wonder who are these BBC Execs that create these programs and are they really the best choice for creating any sort of good programming on disability or dead air.
Next up: The Boy Who Wants His Leg Cut Off (No joke, that really is the title!)
Just remember - it’s a Brave New World out there. Every Day.
The Period Route
March 24, 2017
Subtitles? Transcriptions? The debate with disability and media