Rosie Jones has explained why she decided to use an ableist slur in the title of her new documentary.
The comedian is facing a backlash from campaign groups following the announcement of a Channel 4 project that aims to educate viewers on the abuse disabled people face every day.
There has been so much concern about its designated title – Rosie Jones: Am I a R***** – that contributors who were set to feature in the documentary, Shelby Lynch, Kate Stanforth and Lucy Dawson, have withdrawn from the project.
Social media influencer and model Lynch told her followers on Instagram that “the last few months have been very emotionally draining for me and two of my other amazing disabled friends”.
She continued: “As some of you may know we were asked to take part in a documentary about Ableism and Online Trolling with a well-known disabled comedian. Talking about ableism on mainstream TV is obviously something that needs to be discussed but the way it’s happened isn’t something that I can support and all three of us spoke out against them.”
Lynch said she was left “heartbroken” by the title, adding: “I didn’t want anything to do with the documentary unless the name was changed and we went backwards and forwards for what feels like forever. I cried so many tears over this situation as I was terrified that I would let the disabled community down and nothing would hurt me more.”
She said that she was “angry and upset” by the title as it will make her disabled followers’ lives “more difficult”, and it was “ultimately decided that the three of us would be removed from the documentary instead of the name being changed”.
“I really hope you understand that we did all we could to change the title but unfortunately we weren’t listened to,” she stated.
Meanwhile, in a separate Instagram post, ballerina and model Kate Stanforth wrote: “Myself and a number of influencers were originally part of the new Rosie Jones documentary which is due to air soon. There have been a number of issues raised throughout the process, which led to myself and all my friends to withdraw consent to use our material.
“This includes a lengthy discussion on why we think the title will be damaging to the disabled community and major pressure to change this. Regardless, I still hope the documentary highlights the abuse disabled people get on a daily basis and thank the disabled community who were involved in this for all rallying together on this one for putting as much pressure on the team as possible so we could try get the correct result, even if that meant scrapping our hard work. We got you.”
The third contributor, model Lucy Dawson, acknowledged that “the doc will be brilliant” and will “discuss real important topics”, but said this was “why it’s even more of a shame to use that title”.
She also said she “definitely won’t be watching because it’s gonna be too triggering regardless of if it’s good or bad for me now because of what went on behind the scenes – a lot of what I haven’t even scratched the surface with”.
Jones has since posted a video to explain her decision behind using “a very shocking word” in the title.
“I get it, a lot of people will find this word very shocking and upsetting. But in my opinion, society doesn’t take this word and other ableist forms of language as seriously as any other form of abuse from any other minorities. So, I said to Channel 4: ‘Let’s do it, let’s tackle the problem head on and use that word in the title and then, hopefully, people will think twice about using the word and other ableist slurs ever again’.”
A Channel 4 spokesperson supported Jones, stating: “This film is an authored documentary by Rosie Jones to raise awareness and educate viewers about the issue of ableism and the scale of abuse she and other disabled people face daily.
“The use of the R-word in the documentary is within 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.”