Friday, August 01, 2014

Safe Places - A Simple Request

We had a 'date night' last night. This is a big deal for two elderly fellows who go to bed at 8 and who never, ever , ever go out on a school night. But we managed to get a couple of the last tickets available for Monty Python Live (almost) and we decided that we'd make an exception to our routine and head out and see what the world is like after dark.

The three hour show started at 6:30 so we left the apartment about 4 and strolled down the street to the theatre and arrived in plenty of time to have a bite to eat and then easily get to our seats. We remarked, over dinner, how odd it was to go out for dinner in Toronto. We eat out a lot, when we are on the road, but seldom to almost never in Toronto. We had a lovely meal and a lovely chat and then it was time to go in.

The theatre was packed by the time the lights went down and the show began with, for Dr. Who fans, one of the most recognizable of sights - the Tardis:

It was spinning through the universe. However the big joke, the FIRST joke was that they had in place of 'Police Public Call Box' the word, and forgive me but remember I'm just reporting: "RETARDIS." Surprisingly, it didn't get much of a laugh. I'm not sure if that's because Dr. Who isn't as big here in Canada as it is in the UK or if it's because the message 'end the word' is getting through.

But for both Joe and I, our reaction was exactly the same, we found out later because we aren't that kind of couple who talks in movie theatres during a show because we understand the fundamental fact that we aren't in our frigging home we are in public and the freaking show is on and other people don't want to hear our idle chat during the frolicking film, "Oh, Shit, Why Did They Have To Do That?" Then we both set about doing the mental work of pulling ourselves out of our hostile reaction to a hostile word and move on.

Later two characters go into a bar called 'The Green Midget' - as with 'Retardis' no comment is made on the name, it is simply just there. But again, I was jolted out of enjoyment and into a kind of angry wonder, like "I wonder why they would use a term deemed derogatory by many in the disability community?" In the end, I decided that the use of both terms was simply just 'lazy' and instead of creativity, which is shocking for Monty Python, cheap shots and unclever puns were chosen instead. These guys are smarter than that.

I mentioned this to someone on the way home and I got an interesting response, "You can't expect political correctness from Monty Python." Well, actually, I can. And, I got it. While they made the occasional joke about other cultures, including an odd song about China, they never, ever, even once, name called any group. There was no 'f word' for gay people, no 'any letter word' for any culture, race or creed, no 'b word' for women ... none, one one. And I'm glad of that. Really glad of that. It proves that humour doesn't need to devolve to name calling and bullying. Humour can be clever, humour can be vulgar, humour can be silly, but humour doesn't have to be mean.

Except, of course, for people with disabilities - who apparently don't require the language of respect in comedy. Oddly, one of the funniest bits was a piece with Stephen Hawking, the wheelchair humour was funny, clever and nicely outrageous - to the point of inspired. Loved it. The only other wheelchair user who was there joined me in raucous laughter at the bit. Nice.

What wasn't nice, though, was to see the care taken in presenting a show where disrespectful and, even, hateful words used in reference to disability were present and accounted for - and stood alone while other words of disrespect, other words that are hateful, were put on the shelf to gather dust. It's not much to ask, not much at all, to have the theatre be as safe for people with disabilities as it is for people with other difference and other sensibilities. That's all were asking - equal access to safe places.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry your enjoyment of a rare treat was disturbed - if not spoiled - by the gratuitous cluelessness of the show.

It is sad to find bashing of ANYONE - keep working on calling these things out.

And I hope you sent a copy of this post to the theater and to the Monty Python show people - they should know better - and obviously CAN do better.

I'm constantly conscious of trying not to bother the normals, of trying to just quietly fit in. I'm starting to come to the conclusion that we can't afford that.


Jackie said...

I thought it only was a matter of time before someone used the Tardis for that bad joke.

Anonymous said...

Going to a Monty Python movie/presentation and expecting political correctness or sensitivity is like going to a porn movie and getting upset over nudity. You get what you pay for. I suppose you would like them to alter the "silly walk" running jokes and take out the parrot sketch (abusive to pet shop owners). Have you ever seen Monty Python???