This week sees the start of a new series on Channel 4 called ‘The Undateables’ or as I like to call it ‘Would You Shag A Crip?’. Unfortunately, it is not the sequel to ‘The Untouchables’ either. The premise of the show according to Channel 4′s press release is:
‘The Undateables will follow a range of people whose ability to form relationships is affected by an impairment or challenging condition – such as being deaf or having Tourette’s, Asperger’s or Narcolepsy. The programme will chart their quest to find love in an image-obsessed world where people are too quick to make snap judgements or assumptions based on first impressions, and even consider such people to be ‘undateable’.‘
Fair enough. I’m all for exploring these issues and encouraging discussion about them….even if I do think it’s a thinly veiled disguise for a freak show (which admittedly we all love to see). I’m just not sure I want Channel 4 reminding me that I’m undateable. I kind of know that already (three girlfriends in 31 years tells its own story) and I’ve accepted that. I’m probably a lot thicker skinned than others though.
The advertising around this programme has been deliberately controversial. A series of billboards for The Undateables with pictures of six of the participants has the tagline “love is blind, disfigured, autistic”.
Channel 4 would undoubtedly say that this was to help encourage debate and things but I doubt a teenage disabled person would cope very well with being told they were undateable. How do you even start to respond to the inevitable question – ‘Does that mean I’m undateable Mummy?’
It also surely suggests that disabled people are still a fair target to be stared and laughed at. Racism and homophobia are being tackled but it seems hate crimes against the disabled are still fair game. I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve been laughed at or abused while minding my own business in public recently. Why is this still acceptable?! Groups of teenagers are the worst (in fact I’ll avoid them if I can, even if it means taking the long way). This suggests that it’s a respect issue. Advertising for programmes such as The Undateables hardly encourages this.
Of course, more people will see the billboards than watch the programme. So, even if the programme does display us disableds in a good light (which I doubt it will, it’s better TV to show the bad side), the only thing most people will remember is the offensive advertising. And, if it’s OK to be offensive to disabled people on billboards, then it’s OK in the playground or in the pub too, right?
I bet that the people behind the advertising campaign don’t have many disabled friends. For them, the ad campaign probably works well and they’ll celebrate a job well done. Knowing that they won’t have to look anyone in the eye and justify their angle.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more representation of disabled people on TV. Just don’t do it in the freak show format again and again. Especially at a time when disabled people have been demonised by the Government enough already. I really hope this show will be different from how it is being advertised. We’ve been here before though and it rarely turns out well.
Ironically Channel 4 are showing the Paralympics this summer. Obviously their message to the world is that disabled people are good at sport but not quite marriage material. A bit like Wayne Rooney then?!
I may be undateable but it hasn’t stopped me looking. Let’s be honest, none of us want to be left on the shelf. And I don’t mean the one in Tesco. I mean the one in the big dating supermarket of life. The one where the most desirable people have already been taken, the cheapest have been used and brought back for a refund and the rest of us just sit there like Tesco own brand red sauce – not as tasty and hardly ever picked up.
I, for one, don’t want to get left on that particular shelf. I don’t want to be the person who ends up as a 50 year old with only cats and internet porn as company. I don’t want to be the person who looks forward to holiday snaps being posted on Facebook in the hope of some bikini shots. And I don’t want to be the kind of person who picks up the latest Argos catalogue only to realise that they don’t even sell underwear when I get it home.
Dating is hard though, especially when you’re disabled. I would try speed dating but I’m not really that into Gary Speed. And, anyway, by the time it took me to type a sentence, it’d be time to move on to the next person. Not so much ‘speed dating’ and more ‘speed introducing yourself to loads of strangers and then awkwardly running out of time before getting their name’. I’d not meet my future wife but I’d improve my typing speed!
These dating site TV adverts are bollocks too. Like the one with the shoelaces….
Firstly, they didn’t even meet online! They met in a shoe shop out in the real world. Are you telling me that I have to spend all my time in Clarks in the hope that I pick someone up?! If so, I prefer velcro shoes anyway. There’s not much chance of them getting caught up with some laces, is there? Yes, many children tend to wear velcro shoes but they’re not my target market! So I’d have to wait there until someone with something sticky came in for some shoes and then hope that my velcro caught onto them and I got dragged back to their place like some toilet paper that’s stuck to their foot. However much they tried, they wouldn’t get rid of me. On the up side, I’d get to go on the Clarks foot measuring machine. A LOT.
Secondly, they met by getting accidentally tied up. I don’t know about you but the last time I tied someone up and told them we were meant to be together, I got a restraining order and not a shag!
The duet advert is equally misleading………
Liking Godfather 3 is never a good basis to start a relationship on! Also, her voice is enough to put anyone off. She should have stuck to emailing him. These two hipsters would split up in no time because one of them didn’t like the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album. He’s clearly just agreeing with her to get into her knickers anyway. If she had any sense, she would see through this and find someone who really did like old movies – ones that were actually old and in black and white. She probably isn’t single anyway. Her relationship status on Facebook is probably set to ‘it’s complicated’.
Why can’t these adverts be more honest? I want to see a guy sitting in his pants in his bedroom, judging girls on their pictures alone. He doesn’t care if you like old movies, just as long as you have big tits and don’t have a kid. Honestly. He should also have lied to the back teeth on his profile and used a picture of himself from ten years ago, before the weight gain and the baldness kicked in. In reality, he farts in his sleep and is into S&M. On his profile he is ‘playful and likes to make music’.
Let’s be honest, Fred West probably didn’t mention that he was a mass murderer on his eharmony profile. He probably put he was into the opposite sex and hoped to share his love of building with them.
Adolf Hitler probably didn’t mention that he only had one ball. Instead he probably said he was looking for someone to complete him.
And Nick Clegg probably didn’t admit to being Nick Clegg.
I’ve digressed a bit but you get my point. The dating game is so confusing these days. I’m always open to new ways of meeting people though so when an advert for a disabled dating website flashed up on Facebook I thought I’d give it a go.
It’s opening line was:
“Dating disabled is not something to be ashamed of. Date in confidence and find the person that is right for you.”
It came as such a relief. I was glad it was nothing to be ashamed of and I’m glad that the website had told me so. There I was thinking that dating a disabled person was akin to murdering a baby. THANK YOU WEBSITE FOR PUTTING MY MIND AT REST!
Undeterred by this, I thought I’d try other disabled dating websites. The next one said:
“This is an International dating site, not only FOR disabled men and women but also for those not afraid to take on the responsibility FOR them. This is our possible contribution on the solution of the problems of the handicapped people.”
Oh, I was grateful that there was such a website. A website not only for disabled people but for those who didn’t mind taking on the responsibility. Basically it was saying don’t be afraid, there’s someone who’ll look after you when you can no longer wank yourself. I think they’d confused disabled people with pets. Not that I’ve wanked many dogs. Just the one.
Thank you website for ‘your contribution on the solution of the problems of handicapped people’. Let’s just hope you never go into medicine!
The third site I went on offered blind dates. How exciting and mysterious I thought! It was only when I saw the option for deaf dating next to it that I realised it meant literally blind and probably didn’t involve Cilla Black or ‘Our Graham’.
The fourth site offered me the chance to meet ‘single men and women who share your challenge’. My challenge? I wasn’t aware I was playing the Crystal Maze! Maybe I can swap some crystals for a new voice? How about it, Richard?!
Some of the photos used to advertise these sites looked like the people in them were only pretending to be disabled to claim benefits and the free parking as well. Maybe they were. Who knows.
One thing is for sure, I’m still on the shelf, next to the Weetabix and above the Coco Pops, and I still haven’t found my ‘true love’. I’ll see you down the red light district then. They have some great half price offers on amputees!
- Have you got the Crip Factor? (lostvoiceguy.com)