In recent months, due in no small part to the bloggular work of our own SarahMC, the fine ladies at fwd, and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville, I’ve become increasingly aware of how rights for women and rights for those with disabilities overlap and are intertwined, and what I can do–or not do–to be a better advocate/ally. (I’m grateful, y’all. And still, and ever, learning.) And also in recent months, regular readers would have picked up on my interest (personal and professional) in animation. So when I got a link to some clips of a particular ad campaign put forth by the UK’s Leonard Cheshire Disability yesterday, I knew I had to share.
The campaign, which is animated by the wildly talented people over at Aardman Animations (the people who brought you Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Rex the Runt and others) borrows the concept of the series Creature Comforts, which ran in the UK in 2003, had a bit of exposure in Canada, and was Americanized–albeit briefly–for CBS in 2007.
If you’re unfamiliar, the show was made up of a series of stop-motion animated shorts of various creatures–dung beetles, hound dogs, alligators, etc.– in Aardman’s familiar pop-eyed style, speaking to the camera about specific topics: work, sex, health, etc. The brilliant part was that the script of each bit was compiled/arranged from interviews with members of “the great British public.” The contrasts (and the similarities) between the words and images were funny, moving, and always clever.
The LCD campaign, “Creature Discomforts,” takes the same tack, but specifically uses the voices of British citizens with disabilities talking about their lives: work, sex, health, etc. While ideally the original show would have incorporated the words and representations of people with disabilities, I think the campaign–which is a couple years old but new to this Yank–is fair, sensitive without being maudlin, clever without being smug, and, ironically, since they’re being animated as various animals (the way the “great British public”–which does include PWD, even if they were disappeared in the animation–were) a way to recognize that people with disabilities are people. There’s some animation/puppet performance theory about why this kind of abstraction/displacement reads the way it does, but I’m too busy with end-of-semester grading to dig all that out.
Take a look (sorry, our new firewall seems to reject embedded files):
I think these ads are very effective, but I understand that others might read them differently. What do you think?
You can view the rest of the ads at the LCD site, or at YouTube (search for “creature discomforts”).