The article deconstructs UK Channel 4's 2012 and 2016 Paralympic advertisements, illustrating how the structure and arrangement of signs combine to challenge and reinforce stereotypical attitudes about ability/disability. However, the focus extends beyond taken-for-granted and commonsensical boundaries of a "text" to contemplate how readers' readings (e.g. on weblogs, in newspapers, journals, books, etc.) in specific contingent contexts combine to produce paratext that authors meanings relating to ability and disability. Both the advertisements and the readings they engender produce ambiguous and complex meanings that seem to resist, or thwart, authorial intentions to produce positive representations and efforts to master, or govern, texts through binary oppositions. Such fragility and undecidability in the representations, readings, and the texts they combine to produce give them double-edged qualities. Although this makes them comparable to the pharmakon, namely a beneficial remedy and/or drug/poison, with regard to their likely impact upon a media landscape containing other portrayals of disability, the undecidability of the texts coincides with the dis/ability and dis/abled identities to which they refer.


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pp. 261-279
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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