Rosie Jones Admits It's 'Not Been Easiest Few Weeks' Following Backlash Over Documentary Title

The comic recently sparked controversy ahead of her new documentary about ableism, Rosie Jones: Am I A R****d?
Rosie Jones
Rosie Jones
David M. Benett via Getty Images

Rosie Jones has insisted that she wasn’t “encouraging people” to use the ableist slur featured in the title of her upcoming documentary.

The comedian – who has cerebral palsy – recently completed work on a doc for Channel 4 called Rosie Jones: Am I A R****d?, which is set to explore the discrimination and abuse faced by people with disabilities in the UK.

When the title was announced, the news was met with a backlash, and some of the documentary’s contributors have since asked to have their scenes removed from the show.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Tuesday morning, Rosie stressed that she had not been trying to condone or even reclaim the slur. Instead, she had aimed to highlight the fact that the word is “still used casually”.

“It’s not been the easiest few weeks because having criticism that comes from within your own community hits harder, but I have said all along in this film and in my comedy that I can only speak for myself,” she said.

‘I’m highlighting it as a word that’s still used casually & it needs to stop’

In her first broadcast interview, @josierones, who has cerebral palsy, responds to the backlash over the title of her new doc looking at the ableist slurs she & other disabled people are subjected to⬇️

— BBC Woman's Hour (@BBCWomansHour) July 11, 2023

Rosie continued: “I can only tell the story of what it’s like to be a woman with cerebral palsy and unfortunately that means the ‘R word’ is used against me a lot of the time and I don’t think the abusers care if it is a word associated with me or people with intellectual disabilities.

“I think by using it in the title, I am in no way encouraging people to use it, and in the same breath, I am in no way trying to reclaim it, but I am highlighting that as a word that is still used casually and it needs to stop.”

The comic previously addressed the controversy around her show’s title in a video shared on Twitter.

In her post, she acknowledged that “a lot of people will find this word very shocking and upsetting”, but argued that “society doesn’t take this word and other ableist forms of language as seriously as any other form of abuse from any other minorities”.

She explained: “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.”

My documentary, ‘Rosie Jones: Am I a R*tard?’ is coming to Channel 4 soon. This is the toughest thing I have ever made, but I am incredibly proud of it. I cannot wait for you to see this important piece of television. Here’s why I chose to put an ableist slur in the title.

— Rosie Jones (@josierones) June 30, 2023

Channel 4 also said that Rosie’s “authored documentary” had been intended “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,” a representative for the broadcaster told The Independent.

“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.”

Rosie Jones: Am I A R****d? is set to air on Channel 4 later this year.


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