In May, a very special doll began showing up in stores in Gothenburg, Sweden. According to the package, it was supposed to have cerebral palsy. “The retard doll GIL. Treat her like a real retard!” the label read, while the Facebook page for the doll added, “She doesn’t swear, have sex, drink booze, or poop. So much better than a real retard.”
Images of the doll went viral in Sweden, and the media wondered: Was it some kind of horribly misguided joke by a Swedish shock comic? An openly anti-handicapped-person campaign?
Turns out the doll was created by the Gothenburg Cooperative for Independent Living (GIL), a group that provides assistance to disabled people as a way to draw attention to… um, well, I’m still not quite sure. But in an attempt to clear things up, we called GIL spokesman Anders Westgerd (who happens to be wheelchair-bound himself). PS: We have no idea why GIL decided to send us this particular photo, but we promise that white creamy stuff on the doll’s face is just ice cream, not cum. Thank fucking God…
VICE: OK, why do this? Why make this doll? I want answers.
Anders Westgerd: We came up with the concept for GIL because the members of our cooperative, myself included, were sick and tired of people treating us with prejudiced niceness, as if we were kids or had an inferior intellect. We wanted to do something that provoked people to think about how they treat us. I am sick and tired of people talking over my head, saying stuff like, “Should he really be drinking when he’s in a wheelchair?”
Are you happy with how the doll has been received? Hasn’t it caused some confusion?
I’ve been interviewed by most mainstream media in Sweden and even by the BBC, which is brilliant. We wanted to cause a stir, that’s why we made the retard doll.
Are people pissed off with you for making jokes about the handicapped?
I don’t consider the GIL doll a joke at all. It is a campaign to raise awareness about how wheelchair-bound people wish to be treated like everyone else, to start a discussion. How many dolls have you sold?
I don’t have exact numbers but we’ve made 300 of them and the interest is so big we might have to make more. If you want to buy one you can just email us.
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