Time was when swanning down to the local village square to hurl spoiled fruit and rusted cutlery at the physically deformed was considered a fun family day out. Skip forward several hundred years and today the disabled get to enjoy all manner of 21st century perks.
One such perk I’ll be taking advantage of this coming Wednesday will be to stick two fingers up at the Age Of Austerity by quaffing champagne and avoiding dodgy vol-au-vents; hobnobbing with the Paralympic elite at a secret underground cinema location for a special preview screening of Channel 4’s upcoming Inside Incredible Athletes – from which, I will be Tweeting live.
And lest I forget, proliferating Paralympic vol-au-vent news through the C4Paralympics Twitter feed is in itself a 21st century perk. Spreading the good word on the front line of public opinion – it’s an honour as much as it is a responsibility.
So last week, imagine our glee (the non-TV musical kind) here at C4Paralympics HQ when our Tweet seismograph picked up the very first rumblings of public opinion on Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage announcements.
A lot of people are so excited about our ongoing quest to discover the next generation of Paralympic presenters that they probably aren’t doing their blood pressure a world of good. This blog will be the first for all the latest updates in the star search when it kicks off in September.
Other rumblings included the probing of Channel 4’s exact intentions and its dubious sounding ‘Freaks Of Nature’ ad campaign.
“Does this mean I should look forward to a vol-au-vent free future being pelted with over ripe satsumas and fish forks?” some of you demanded to know.
Famous ‘freaks of nature’ include Usain Bolt, David Beckham, Jessica Ennis, Jonny Wilkinson, Muttiah Muralitharan, Steve Redgrave and Lionel Messi. We didn’t call them that. The press did. Athletes call each other freaks of nature. Their own mothers hail it from the rooftops.
These ‘freaks’ possess not just extreme athletic ability and unfathomable skill – but super human single-minded focus and determination the likes of which Joe Public and I are just not capable. It’s what makes them win.
If you’re the sort of person who can push your body until you reach intense physical pain and then keep on pushing – all for the sake of a medal – then you’re just not normal. Face it. And we here at Channel 4 are proud to acknowledge that Paralympians are every bit as abnormal as Olympians. Probably more so, given that they win more medals.
So if in days of yore the very people we’re exalting would have likely led their lives under a perpetual shower of pith and tableware – cruelly labelled with the very same word Beckham et al consider a compliment – you’d be forgiven for thinking that describing Paralympians as ‘Freaks of Nature’ is a bold move. Not since the album title brain storming session that resulted in Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ has there been such a brazen attempt at linguistic rebranding.
But then – to expect to be held in equal regard to your able-bodied counter parts – as perks go, it’s hardly a huge ask, is it?