There is a catchy term being dropped at all the best Hollywood parties these days — cripface. It’s not a new coinage but is now entering the zeitgeist and will soon be so overused as to become trite and boring. “Cripface” is the act of using nondisabled actors in film and TV shows to play characters who are disabled. Get it? It’s just like blackface back in the dark ages of show business when Al Jolson donned black paint and a black patois to sing “My Mammy.” Can you imagine that happening today? No, you can’t. Ted Danson, in a joke that went terribly, terribly wrong, showed up in blackface at a Friar’s Roast and nearly got tarred and feathered. He could have shown up in a wheelchair, faking the gestures of a C5 quad, and no one would have batted an eyelash. “Oh, that Ted,” they’d say, “Cute wheelchair bit. If only it had been funnier.”
“Cripface” is not just a goofy pun. Nondisabled actors playing disabled parts is a big problem in the entertainment business. See the advantages to producers? No close-in parking spots, no ramps or lifts to build, no double-wide porta-potties, no chairs being run over by heedless gaffers, triggering a costly law suit. Who needs the hassle?
The word is purposely impolite and borderline offensive. I’m sure some PC bore got all huffy and suggested “disability-face” or “mobility-challenged-face” and was asked to leave the room. “Crip” has zing. It’s punchy and memorable. In fact, I propose that crip-based words should become part of a new, specialized vocabulary, a grab bag of peppy euphemisms for all occasions, especially when someone out there bugs the hell out of you, which, in my own case, is often.
Stealing from current socio-political jargon, here’s a start:
CINO. Meaning, “Crip In Name Only.” These are people who are technically disabled but want nothing to do with anyone else in the same boat. They avoid fraternizing with other crips for fear it will sully their status in the ambulatory world. Personally, I think they should be drummed out of the club. I put forth the name of one CINO in particular to blackball: the Governor of Texas, Greg “Spine of Steel/Heart of Stone” Abbott.
COREO. A derivation of OREO, meaning black on the outside and white on the inside. In our case, it means crippled on the outside and cynical on the inside. In public, these disgusting hypocrites profess to be dedicated activists, while in private they think most people with a disability are crybabies and government moochers and should just shut up. When it comes to giving money to the cause, they’re like the guy who always forgets his wallet when it’s time to pay the tab. If they are rich, they fit the category, LIMOUSINE CRIPERALS.
NEO-CRIP. A neo-conservative believes in a super aggressive foreign policy which dictates boots on the ground and nukes in the air anytime another country calls us “The Great Satan.” A neo-crip advocates a super aggressive disability police force whose job is to hassle all the CINOs, COREOs, and anyone else they don’t like.
CRIPTOAMOROUS. Here’s something to cheer about. Like polyamorous but better. A chair user who is available for sex anytime, anywhere, with any one of any gender of his or her choosing. Could be a spicy new series on Netflix.
CRIPTOPHOBIC. Fear of saying the wrong thing or making the wrong helpful gesture to a person in a wheelchair, getting a withering tongue lashing, and being left feeling you are a callow, insensitive dolt.
KRIPTOMANIAC. People in chairs who compulsively shoplift.
CRIPTOGYNIST. A man who is deathly afraid of any woman with a disability and covers it by calling her bossy and a man-hating CRITCH.
CRIPTOWACKO. A disabled person at a David Duke rally.
LYING, DISGRACEFUL, STUPID, DISGUSTING, VERY UGLY CRIP. Donald Trump’s phrase for any disabled person who doesn’t vote for Donald Trump.
Please memorize these terms, practice saying them in a mirror, and then make up a few of your own. It’ll be our very own private code language and a guaranteed ice-breaker at your next cocktail party, hopefully hosted by an attractive hunk or siren who is avidly criptoamorous.