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Crippen cartoons on Google images / 14 January 2016


I had an interesting comment on my Wordpress blog the other day. I've added my response at the bottom of this post but but would be interested to hear what others make of it. You can access the blog comment directly by clicking here and maybe leaving your own comment?

Blog Comment left by Akiko Chan: "I don’t appreciate the Crippen images which have been put up on the Google Images site. These images depreciates the whole idea of seeing the differently abled not as people who have likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies and most importantly as those who could be our friends! We should remember the whole idea of a person who is disabled doesn’t surround her/his personality on being an individual."

My response: "I think there is perhaps some cross-cultural misunderstanding, my friend!  My work actually makes fun of those who 'don't' see disabled people as individuals with full lives, likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies.  I am a disabled person myself and have been at the receiving end of discrimination, prejudice and lack of understanding.  So I don't think we really disagree.  Perhaps it is a case of British humour not carrying across successfully to other societies or cultures?  I and my disabled comrades see that the worst barriers we face are created by society, not our impairments - we face environmental, communication, information, institutional and attitudinal barriers in our struggle to be seen as full citizens.  (A social modelunderstanding of disability.)  Thanks for getting in touch though and making your comments."

Comments

esther ball

/
18 March 2016

oh akiko, reading your comment ,I got as far as '' differently abled'', then blah blah blah, Yawn.We are NOT'' differently abled'' as tho we are some'' sub group ''away from mainstream, , we are mainstream people who utilise whatever way we can to engage in daily life, crippen excels at taking the piss out of people who cannot recognise this fact ..the ableist school of thought where exactly your comment '' differently abled '' belongs . go on, Akiko, move along .... next please...NEXT

Craig Lundie

/
14 January 2016

As usual, Bob makes an excellent point. I remember in 2011 someone coming onto the Black Triangle page and moaning that we were terribly insensitive for using that black triangle image at all, that the "atos macht frei" reworks were beyond the pale, that we shouldn't be so "extreme" in our imagery in general and that she was shocked and offended. John was trying to deal with her complaints but was totally exhausted with it all. I asked her how much she had looked into Black Triangle and DPAC's work and if there was anything else she'd like to censor while we were at it. I never saw her again. Meanwhile there were literally thousands of people telling us how grateful they were for what we were doing.I'm glad it's not the eighties when I'd probably have told them where to stick their complaints but there will always be people who simply don't get the joke. I've been in that position myself and am empowered by finding out as long as I'm not excluded for being stupid in the process. I for one would feel a terrible loss if Dave felt he had to tone down what he does. Much of the power is in the confrontation. I think you dealt with this sensitively and hope I can be as sensitive with people's feelings going forward but the clue is in the title, isn't it? If it doesn't make you think, it's not really art at all.

nick lewis

/
14 January 2016

Oh Dave, my life would feel horribly respectable without you - nick

Crippen

/
14 January 2016

Some great comments here guys. Thanks for taking the trouble to share your own thoughts and ideas about this contentious subject. I chose the accompanying cartoon deliberately as I feel that it so perfectly sums up my feelings about the differences caused by language and cultural influences. The wheelchair used to have a stars and strips flag on its side but in subsequent redraws I removed it as more feedback, similiar to that of our american cousins, began to arrive from around the world. I think Bob sums it up so well when he talks about the sorts of influences that we've been subjected to over the years as disabled people in the UK, and how that has made us what we are. And, lets face it, we are a pretty unique and talented bunch of crips when we get down to it!

Sophie P.

/
14 January 2016

Colin, when I was in my Teens and still Very tiny, I was on a school trip to Lourdes (i can hear you all holding your breath now!). I was sat in a `special' seat in a large w/chair, wearing my beret (a Lourdes `thing') and wrapped in a shawl or something.. One of my teachers (laughingly!) told me after, that she heard someone comment "Is she just a head?"! Truely I am a Living Miracle... ;-) x

Sophie P.

/
14 January 2016

Here Hear!

Bob Williams-Findlay

/
14 January 2016

You know what annoys me the most about disability related language? In the majority of cases people who voice opinions have little or no knowledge of the historical context of the specific language under discussion and as a result miss the oppressive connections between the past and present.

The word "able" for example has a complex history and without knowing this, huge assumptions are made by people with various perspectives. Most people see dis/able as a binary way of addressing bodily function, but this is in fact a fairly recent development - see the work of Michael Foucault - but historically it has non-medical meanings which connect with both power and status. Hence in John Stuart Mills' 'The Subjugation of Women', he spoke about "women with disabilities" because:

"... [T]he legal subordination of one sex to another – is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a system of perfect equality, admitting no power and privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other." This was 1869

Also within the British Poor Laws from the 14th century, 'able-bodied' meant those 'able' to sell their labour and all the other poor were 'impotents' - lacking in both ability and power.

I associate 'differently able' with the political correct nonsense coming from those who sought to hide their acceptance 'the individual tragedy' model of disability by giving it a warped 'positive spin'. Same as the patronising 'looking at the ability not the disability' mantra.

Recognising and acknowledging impairment reality, the social, political and cultural dimensions of living with impaired bodies and the oppressive ways society appraises people with impairments all interplay as part of the exploration of both dominant and 'disability' cultures. It is my view 'differently able' sidetracks us from the oppressive nature of capitalist society by focusing on the individual and their body. Imagine, going back to the quotation from John Stuart Mills, if men started to refer to women as 'differently able' what ramifications that would have. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and trying to develop non 'offense' language can simply reinforce dominant oppressive latent ideas.

Bert Massie

/
14 January 2016

I agree with those who think the negative response is a cultural issue. British humour makes heavy use of irony and satire. In the USA, for example, humour is more direct. The British also use language in a way that rightly confuses people for whom English is a second language. Depending on the context, a sentence can mean the opposite of its literal meaning. All of this is reflected in Crippen cartoons and is one of the many reasons why so many of us enjoy them so much.

Dennis Queen

/
14 January 2016

I think if the person doesn't realise this is us talking about us it makes it hard to get the jokes.

We love you anyway. Keep talking about us. I don't want everyone to be my friend, i want most people to leave me alone and mind their own business!

Colin

/
14 January 2016

I think the 'Differently Abled' cartoon is one of the more ambiguous artworks in your portfolio Dave. I can understand anyone who doesn't get satire failing to appreciate the message you're trying to convey here. There is something about the idea of a human being that is just a head, which I can imagine some people just finding disturbing. This is an example of one of the more warped pieces of imagination in your oeuvre.

Lynn

/
14 January 2016

I think Akiko's comment, though well-intentioned, illustrates why the world needs your cartoons Dave. At least, it's got him engaged in a dialogue and hopefully he might soon realise that "we come in peace" and will be our friend. Also, I'm wondering what Akiko thinks of those amongst the ranks of the differently abled who have Hidden Impairments? Maybe, he thinks we have cleverly adopted a cunning disguise to fool The Normals?

Daniel Pask

/
14 January 2016

I think that we people with disabilities should take any and all opportunities to poke fun at euphemisms like "differently abled" and similar labels that deny the reality of our experience

Paul Russell

/
14 January 2016

I think the British humour reference is spot on. Some cultures don't get it at all. The writer is clearly 'onside' and, in a quaint way (looking at it form a decidedly British cultural aspect), Akiko really does get it.

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