The portrayal of disabled people in viral videos from one TikTok account has been dividing opinion.
The video shows a single-leg cyclist racing to the finish line, accompanied by a comedy song with lyrics that read “LEFT…LEFT…LEFT…”.
The fact that it has been posted by the official Paralympics account has surprised and shocked some people.
There are numerous similar clips on the feed, featuring wheelchair basketball players falling, individuals running on blades, and blind footballers attempting to save goals, all accompanied by a novelty track.
The videos have generated a strong reaction, with many commenters questioning whether the official Paralympics account has been hacked or why the person in charge hasn’t been fired.
BBC Newsbeat reached out to the International Paralympic Committee, the organizer of the games, to inquire about the situation. They confirmed that the account has not been hacked.
According to the International Paralympic Committee, the person responsible for the TikTok account is a Paralympian who has created a strong following with edgy and unique content. The goal is to educate viewers who may not be familiar with Paralympic sports and the achievements of the athletes, even though not everyone may like the content.
British Paralympic table tennis player Jack Hunter-Spivey believes that the videos are raising the profile of disability sports, despite the criticism and confusion.
According to 27-year-old Jack Hunter-Spivey, a British Paralympic table tennis player who also works as a comedian, he doesn’t have an issue with the TikToks. He won a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and believes that many of the complaints on TikTok are coming from able-bodied individuals.
According to Jack Hunter-Spivey, a British Paralympic table tennis player and comedian, Paralympians are often seen as inspirational, but they can also make jokes.
Jack acknowledges the potential risk of the videos normalizing discrimination and making people feel more comfortable to mock individuals with disabilities.
According to Jack, “mean people” will make discriminatory comments regardless of the TikTok videos, and he believes the videos are a way to progress the Paralympic movement in new and exciting ways.
“I think it attracts more attention to the Paralympics, where we can be part of the trends and gain popularity on TikTok. I like it because disability is a sensitive topic.”
Jess Whyte, who is a wheelchair basketball player for Loughborough Lightning, believes it’s crucial to depict athletes as real individuals who possess a sense of humor. She asserts that the Paralympics provides a perfect chance to embrace diversity, and that if we’re going to celebrate the great aspects, we should also be able to laugh at the amusing ones.
Jess Whyte, a wheelchair basketball player for Loughborough Lightning, agrees that portraying athletes with a sense of humor is important to show them as real people. She believes that the Paralympics provide an opportunity to celebrate differences, and if we celebrate great things, we can also laugh at funny things.
According to her, the videos aim to normalize being comfortable around people with disabilities and differences, and it’s an excellent way to showcase it and educate people.
However, not all of the athletes that Newsbeat interviewed share the same opinion.
Sean Jackson, a 22-year-old England Amputee footballer, believes that the TikTok account should showcase the positive accomplishments of Paralympic athletes instead of using them as the butt of jokes. He expresses his disappointment that the account isn’t utilizing its massive following to “promote incredible athletes.”
Sean Jackson, a 22-year-old amputee footballer from England, believes that the account should focus on showcasing the positive aspects of the Paralympic athletes’ accomplishments.
He finds it disheartening that the organizers are not utilizing a platform with millions of followers to “highlight exceptional athletes.”
Sean Jackson, a 22-year-old England Amputee footballer, believes that the account should focus on highlighting the positive achievements of Paralympic athletes. He is disappointed that the platform, which has millions of followers, is being used to mock and turn them into memes for comedic entertainment rather than promoting the incredible athletes. “After going through that entire account, I might have only come across one or two [videos] where the athlete actually achieves something,” he said.
Sean Jackson, a 22-year-old England Amputee footballer, believes that the Paralympics account should focus on highlighting the positive aspects of the athletes’ performances.
He expresses his disappointment that the platform with millions of followers is being used to “mock” the athletes and turn them into memes for comedic purposes.
According to Sean, upon reviewing the account, only one or two videos feature the athletes performing successfully. He argues that the majority of the content is mocking the athletes, whether it’s a fall, the way they run because of their blades, or the way they use a bike.
Sean feels that the account is using the athletes’ disabilities and their participation in sports they love to entertain people through humor.
Source : bbc.com