ABLEISM AND THE TV SHOW PEACEMAKER
*Just a heads up that there will be no spoilers given here*
I’ve just finished watching the HBO Max TV show “Peacemaker”.
So, far nothing wrong in that right?
Well, go in 7 episodes and we hit a problem.
Just a heads up that there will be no spoilers given here.
We’ve hit this issue this past year once with Beyonce and once with Lizzo.
Before we get onto the issue here’s what the show is about.
“After recovering from the injuries, he suffered during the events of The Suicide Squad, Christopher Smith / Peacemaker is forced to join the mysterious A.R.G.U.S. black ops squad “Project Butterfly”. They are on a mission to identify and eliminate parasitic butterfly-like creatures who have taken over human bodies around the world.”
The issue in question occurs in episode 7 titled “Stop Dragon My Heart Around”.
In this episode Peacemaker is being chased by his dad and his dad’s gang of thugs.
Inside the helmet that Peacemaker wears is a tracking device, and via an I-Pad they are able to track him, upon realising this, a racoon is found, and the helmet is attached to the animal and one of the thugs line of dialogue is and I quote.
“He runs like a spaz”.
Here are different meanings of the word “Spaz”.
A stupid or incompetent person.
A hyperactive person.
A tantrum, a fit.
A person with spastic paralysis or spastic cerebral palsy or epilepsy.
In the US it means a stupid of incompetent person, but in other countries it refers to a person with spastic paralysis or spastic cerebral palsy or epilepsy.
Clearly the writer of this episode or anyone on the production team had seen or read news stories in and around Beyonce and Lizzo otherwise I’m certain that they would’ve edited the episode before broadcast or after.
Indeed, the streaming service I watched it on didn’t edit anything.
I highly doubt that either James Gunn director/creator/writer and HBO Max will do anything about this.
Even after seeing this blog post (highly unlikely) will they rush back into the editing suite and hastily alter one word of dialogue.
I am aware that the word spaz doesn’t mean the same in the US as it does in other countries as we’ve had this discussion previously, but those countries outside of the US surely upon hearing it thought wait, let’s change this abhorrent word, yes, it’s only said in one line of dialogue for like a second or two but it’s not that difficult to edit it is it?
People may read this and be saying to themselves but Nick it’s just a word, yeah it is an outdated, horrible, horrible word.
If they had used another word say “cripple” would there be this outrage?
Yes, I believe there would be.
If a TV show uses any words that are offensive, then wouldn’t those people that are offended call them out and there’d be mass hysteria on social media?
MY TAKE ON IT
A slur is a slur.
Words hurt and can have a lasting effect on that person.
If you are unsure of the language that you are using around someone with a disability, here’s a tip Google it.
We are an already marginalised community as it is, we are consistently having to prove our worth in the world, we are getting sick and tired of coming up against these types of slurs and having to explain time and time again why using outdated hurtful words does matter.
It’s also tiring having to explain that we don’t use these words anymore and what words we use in 2022.
We need to do better here when it comes to words that are being bantered around and being freely used by people who have no understanding of what the disabled community has gone through in order to replace those hateful horrible words.
Here then are some other offensive words that we really shouldn’t be using.
These terms are offensive “handicapped,” “differently abled,” “cripple,” “crippled,” “victim,” “retarded,” “stricken,” “poor,” “unfortunate,” or “special needs.” “spastic”, “spaz” “retarded”.
If you are unsure of what words and language to use when talking to or engaging with a person with a disability, then these tables can help you out.
The full guide titled “A guide to language about disability” can be found here https://pwd.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/PWDA-Language-Guide-v2-2021.pdf
Personally, I don’t think that HBO Max or James Gunn will do anything about this, but they should.
CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION
How did you feel when you heard those ableist slurs?
How have you dealt with being on the receiving end?
Let me know in the comments section below.
As always, I can also be found on Twitter:@AutisticNickAU and on the Official Autistic Nick Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/AutisticNickAU/ Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.