Warning: may contain disability themes
Back in February this year, the Ouch! Podcast played host to two stars of a comedy movie called Special People, which had debuted at the 8th London Disability Film Festival. The film, in which a neurotic film director "gets a little more than he bargained for" when he's enlisted to teach a class of wheelchair users about movie-making, is due to open in cinemas this Friday (21 November). Check your local listings for details, and all that malarkey.
The thing is, though, that you might want to be careful when you take your place in the stalls with your bucket of popcorn, because the film contains - shock! horror! - "disability themes". That's right. Under the rules of the Britsh Board of Film Classification, Special People has been given a 12A certificate. because it contains "moderate sex references, language and violence" - you can read their full decision here, complete with a mention of the word "spaz" - but when it initially went before the censors the film was labelled as also featuring "disability themes". Audiences obviously need warning about seeing disabled people on screen these days.
After pressure from the film's director, Justin Edgar, and the production company, the label was removed - but not before all the promotional material for Special People had been printed and distributed. The BBFC's ruling now says that "a disability theme runs throughout the film but its treatment is suitable for young teenagers". Justin remains angry that this labelling happened in the first place: "I couldn't understand why a film censor thought it was necessary to make people aware that the film had disabled people in it".
I think when I go to the cinema to see the film, I might offer the venue's manager a strip of masking tape to put over the offending words on the poster. Maybe if all Ouch readers do the same, we can lure unsuspecting audiences to see all these shocking "disability themes" on screen ...