Cineworld, a major conglomerate of the entertainment industry claims to favour a progressive ‘movies for all’ policy. The popular cinema is promoting itself as putting over 2000 members of staff through appropriate ‘Awareness and Welcoming Disabled Customers’ training.
The no doubt profit-making and raking-it-in agent of popular culture is quick to congratulate its bank balancing self for providing ‘special autism screenings’ in 14 of its 79 cinemas. Such generosity! Regardless surely of the act being useful currency for valuable publicity!
It was with an ironic, resigned and unsurprised smile that I heard an adequately supervised, co-operating and cared for child on the autism spectrum was ‘asked’ by an overzealous usher to leave a public screening.
The child’s parents had taken their son along with them on a family outing to watch a film on New Year’s Eve.
It took 30 minutes of distressing interruption to demonstrate to the eventually shamed-faced manager that the child was making no more noise or disturbance than any other child in the audience.
The whole family was backed by supportive and sympathetic bystanders in the audience who had witnessed the scene and were left pondering why this child was singled out for attempted exclusion?
Prejudice, stigma, fear……and occurring at the end of a year where ‘difference’ was legitimately, universally celebrated during the magnificent season of the Paralympics.
It was a truly unnecessary spoiling of a family’s treat and sad mark on the new year.