DAY 5: ALEX BROOKER
Today, I wanted to talk about comedian and presenter Alex Brooker who many of you have probably seen on your screens for presenting shows like The Last Leg and The Jump. Brooker was born with hand and arm deformities and a twisted right leg that had to be amputated early on in his life. Like many others, growing up Brooker felt like there was an underrepresentation of people like him on TV which helped encourage him to pursue his current career. Brooker feels that it has taken a long time to desensitise the audience to his disability but now finally the audience doesn’t define him by his differences. By being a public figure this has helped humaise him and others with disabilities. As one of the few people with a disability regularly seen on TV, he feels he has a responsibility to not just be entertaining for his audience but also bring the reality of life with a physical disability into the public sphere. In a recent interview Brooker talked about how lockdown is showing non-disabled people what life can be like for many people with disabilities who have very limiting and monotonous lives. Brooker hopes this new perspective of life will make the public more empathic to the experiences of people with disabilities.
In 2015, Alex Brooker along with Scope and Channel 4 created 6 short episodes called “Ending the Awkward” that had the goal of increasing awareness of the disability charity Scope, challenging the most common misconceptions of disability and capturing a new audience. A study showed that 67% of people feel awkward around disability which causes many to actively avoid interacting with people with disabilities, and so the project was targeted at 18-34 year olds as this is the largest group that’s uncomfortable around disability. The creators wanted to make sure it wasn’t confrontational but instead opened the conversation through the use of humour. The episodes addressed the issue of innocent ignorance through Brooker reacting to various situations which exemplified how not to act. The project was a huge success and generated over 1,500,000 views and a visible increase in support for Scope’s own platforms. All of this helped to cause a positive shift in attitudes towards people with disabilities.
I believe Alex Brooker is an important ancestor of activism because he has used his platform to be a part of campaigns helping to break down the social barriers that some non-disabled put up against people with disabilities often subconsciously , as well as showing the world that people are so much more beyond their disabilities and need to represented more in media.