First learned about Dr. Nabil Shaban some months ago while researching on the obvious keyword of Body-you-know-what. To beeb buffs he's probly best known for his role as the alien Evil Sil in the Dr. Who Series (btw 10 years before the Sil of Species), while others might know him from various other plays and/or films, as author of the book Dreams my father sold me or as co-founder of Graeae Theatre Company of Disabled People. Nabil Shaban also generated some ripples when, after the UK joining the war in Iraq, he went to Downing St. 10 and handed back a grant of 25'000 quid cause he felt he couldn't accept the 'blood money'.
Nabil Shaban in Born of Fire (1989). Inside # 57 Interview
What really struck me of course was some of his thoughts on the topic at hand, of which without further ado I'd like to share some excerpts:
"Body Fascism", a term I created in 1983, which places a value on a person’s worth on the basis of physical appearance or attributes....thus someone with an able body that appears perfect, fit, hansome or beautiful, has a superior status...whereas a person who deviates from a socially or culturally physically acceptable norm...i.e too fat, too thin, too short, physically deformity e.g hunchback, wasted hand, clubbed foot, impaired in mobility or senses (blind, deaf etc)..."ugly" in some shape or form....are deemed to have an inferior status. Consequently, the heroic, the romantic, the good, the desirable are portrayed/represented by performers whose physical or bodily attributes evoke the greatest sympathy / identity from the largest possible audience. [...] The problems of Sexism, Ageism and Racism in the performing arts are particular aspects of Body Fascism. "Body Fascist" Market Forces are not just a problem for disabled people. There is no Fair Play: Disability and the Performing Arts
The first people that were gassed in Nazi Germany were disabled people. Not Jews, not gypsies, not communists, but disabled people. The first people that were being castrated, sterilised were disabled people. And the first babies that had been murdered in hospitals by Nazi doctors were disabled people. So the general public should look at what happens to disabled people and realise that that is a warning of about what's going to happen to them next. So it's actually in the interest of non-disabled people to fight with us, to be our allies. Dail Interview
And who said women are more interested in personality! What a load of bollocks! As a disabled man, I have learned that women are just as Body Fascist as men. Inside # 57 Interview
The other thing I noticed was that I started to become sexually interesting to women once I became an actor, started to appear on stage, television and film and become a minor celebrity. Suddenly, I found women who wanted to be my girlfriend, even though I was still disabled. As Henry Kissinger said, "Power is the biggest aphrodisiac". My fame and success was giving me apparent power, and that was what was turning women on. It wasn't me, myself, Nabil that had metamorphosed into a gorgeous looking bloke. I was still the same. I still hated seeing myself in the mirror. It's not surprising billions of people want to be Hollywood movie stars or rock stars, because they instinctively know that even if they are conventionally "ugly" or just plain-looking, the result will still be sexual pulling power. Inside # 57 Interview
Tuppy: If you hate seeing yourself in the mirror (although most people do) could this mean you share body fascism yourself?
Nabil: Indeed. In fact, that was why I originally came up with the term. I was meditating on my own aesthetic prejudices, particularly as an artist, I made myself be aware of my preconditioned preferences and questioned them, analysed them, tried to work out why and how and from whence, and were they culturally determined or are they instinctual products stemming from biological imperatives? In the end, I concluded that the Human condition has the ability to transcend all physical, material, social, genetic dictates and that if we are to move on to a higher, more enlightened plane of existence which is the only refuge that can save us and the planet, we must recognise those demons within, however sourced, which commands us to make value judgements on the basis of ultimately superficial criteria....and having put on the spotlight, we can hopefully exorcise them. That's the theory, anyway. Inside # 57 Interview
Tina Leslie and her and Nabil's baby son Zenyel. The 5th Gospel
And the transport situation, this business of locking people out of cities. It certainly started with disabled people and it's getting to point where I'm not allowed to get into London because every time I do, there is a good chance I'll end up with a parking ticket. In fact the London boroughs have decided since the 1980s to ignore the disabled badge and they claim they've got their own badge. But then you may end up having to have about five or ten different disabled badges. You have to use them in every borough you are going. They have become sort of passports. You cannot go to Kensington and Chelsea unless you show the Kensington and Chelsea disabled badge. You cannot to go to Westminster unless you have the disabled badge for Westminster. So now we have this system of restricting disabled people's mobility and movement in the metropolitan areas and it's obvious in London. Dail Interview
There is certainly legislation that is threatening to disabled people. The Mental Incapacity Bill for example is giving licence to kill disabled people unfortunate enough to end up in a hospital. [...] We have got this attitude in this country where disabled people are considered to be useless, so we have a prioritization system now in our health care. So if you are disabled and you go to a hospital, you are less likely to receive proper treatment because they would like to see you dead. And to try and get on to the waiting list, if you are disabled, it's ten times harder than if you are non-disabled. Because again they actually want to see you dead. [...] Dail Interview
Phew, guess with my reservations against clostridium difficile and similar niceties in NHS facilities in the end still can consider myself spoilt n lucky ...
(In case you'd like to check out more of Nabil Shaban's writings on the net, which is sometimes not too easy cause some pages for mysterious reasons can't be googled, best start on his resummee-page and follow every link from there plus the links on the pages they lead you to.)
(To be continued ...)