What if King George VI gave his wartime radio speech today – Daniele Rossi

Daniele RossiAbout the Author:

Daniele Rossi is a cartoonist living in Canada. Stuttering and drawing comics since he was four years old, Daniele grew up to produce the Stuttering is Cool podcast and book of the same name with the latter featuring comics starring Franky Banky, a cartoon fox who stutters. An active participant in the global stuttering community including co-founding Stutter Social, an online community facilitating group video chats for people who stutter all over the world since 2011, and drawing Franky Banky comics for the Association bègaiement communication quarterly newsletter. Since his first name can be difficult even for English-language non-stutterers to say fluently, you can call him Danny. Head over to FrankyBanky.com for more comics!

The change I’d like to see is everyone who stutters feeling comfortable enough to stutter openly so they can spread awareness for the benefit of not only themselves, but for future generations of stutterers. How are fluenters (people who don’t stutter) supposed to understand stuttering when they don’t hear it? Nobody but us will spread awareness for the greater good, and build up the courage to step outside of our comfort zones one speaking situation at a time.

I made this little cartoon in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the theatrical premiere of The King’s Speech, a movie about the therapist/client/friendship between King George VI and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue. This multi-award winning film brought stuttering into the spotlight to the delight of the global stuttering community. I, too, was really happy about this at the time and bought the DVD, the soundtrack, and even the book! 

However, in retrospect, I now wonder if the movie didn’t quite send the right message. During the big climactic scene where King George VI gave his radio speech, he said it fluently. Well, almost fluently. Just with a lot of pauses giving the impression that fluent speaking equals success. The very same message that had been plaguing us stutterers all our lives. 

Not cool. While I still like the movie, I’ve been done with trying to pass myself off as fluent and beating myself over stuttering on one word almost 15 years ago and have been reaping many benefits from stuttering overtly since. Besides, why should I, nay, we, be forced to speak fluently when we aren’t made to speak fluently? 

 

Back to the cartoon. Since I like parodies so much, I made one of the final radio speech scenes, but this time, of the king stuttering. Instead of preparing the audience for war like in the movie, King George VI – portrayed by my cartoon character Franky Banky, a fox who stutters – encourages his fellow stuttering viewers to take steps out of their speaking comfort zones, stutter openly, and spread much needed stuttering awareness.

I recruited my friends to give voice characterizations. Starting off the parody is the character of Lionel Logue, voiced by Australian-born, Grant Meredith, who has been making digital content since the 1990s. He is a member of Australia’s Speak Easy Association’s National Council and a member of Speech Pathology Australia’s Ethics Board. Mentioned in the cartoon is “fair dinkum” which is Australian slang for something that is really good and/or true. You may remember that Lionel Logue was Australian.

The cartoon continues with the radio speech given by Franky Banky/King George VI voiced by actor and Tik Tok star, Marc Winski. Marc’s portrayal of Franky Banky was based on a Canadian trying really hard to sound like the king yet not being successful at it. After all, it’s a parody! I think Marc did a great job! Marc is an actor, singer, and dancer who performed on Disney Cruise Lines and in Broadway shows such as Grease and Hairspray. He strives for giving a voice and advocating for people who stutter in theatre, film, media, and television which garnered media attention about his hilarious stuttering awareness videos on TikTok and Instagram.  

Playing Queen Elizabeth is Stella, a female cartoon character I recently designed and debuted on Instagram. She is voiced by Lynne Mackie, who is the creator behind the StammerOn YouTube channel. Lynne is also active in drama/community theatre where she played one of the witches in MacBeth and is now directing a self-written play. Lynne is a Trustee for both Stamma and the Scottish Stammering Network, and is a board member for Stamily, a worldwide stuttering community dedicated to sharing the lived experiences of people who stutter.

I had a lot of fun creating this cartoon and I thank Grant, Marc, and Lynne for helping me bring it to life!

Give getting out of your comfort zone a try and be the change you wish to see!

 

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Comments

What if King George VI gave his wartime radio speech today – Daniele Rossi — 37 Comments

  1. I love this message! When I work with my fluency kids, I start every session with reading their body language and ensuring that they come in comfortable (to the best of my ability, of course.) I enjoyed this rendition of the King’s speech, especially the billiard balls from Amazon!
    How do you explain this message to others who may be more closed minded? I have clients that do not worry about their stutter, and it is mild, but the parents will NOT stop talking about how much they stutter, and rushing me to “fix” them. If parents are set on “fixing” a stutter, how do you basically, bring them back to reality?

    • I’m glad you enjoyed my video. I like the billiard balls joke, too, but I may be biased. 😉

      When parents are set on “fixing” their child’s stutter, you can explain that they need to look beyond their child’s speech and focus on their child as a whole. Their child’s feelings towards their speech; has the feedback they have been getting towards their speech been positive or negative? If negative, then that needs to be addressed. Not from a judgemental perspective but from a “how does that make you feel?” angle.

      Forcing fluency in a child will only create trauma. More anxiety over stuttering. Stuttering isn’t the issue. Society’s attitudes against differences is the problem. Nobody is perfect but we tend to try to appear a perfect.

      We want the best for our children but another thing you can share with parents is there are many, many people who stutter with successful lives, careers, relationships. Just like people have different hair colour, people have different speech styles.

      Speech therapy is not a cure. I thought it was as a kid and all it did was create a feeling in me that it was my fault I stuttered.

      After all, I don’t think parents of children using wheelchairs force their children to stop using a wheelchair and start walking around.

      Check out an episode of my podcast for more on the trauma of fluency. Striving for fluency isn’t bad or wrong, just applying pressure on the child is the wrong approach.

      http://stutteringiscool.com/podcast/fluency/

      • I also wanted to mention that there is a lot more to a child than their speech (they have many other strengths) and also the importance of instilling in the child a sense of self-advocacy and meeting others who stutter for peer support (I’m especially a fan of getting to know others who stutter with a positive attitude towards their speech). “Hey, I just stutter. Not a big deal.”

        There is space in speech therapy for both learning speech tools and self-advocacy, stuttering openly, addressing their emotions and self-worth due to societal stigma on stuttering,

        • I agree, I will have to really talk to the parents about their mind set on stuttering. I feel like sometimes culture can also be an obstacle to overcome. I am showing my client this video tomorrow!

  2. Hello Danny! What a great message. I love the King’s Speech, but until you mentioned your unease over it’s message, I had not even considered that aspect. I feel a bit ashamed as I, an aspiring SLP, have been proudly standing on my soap box over American Healthcare’s inability to view death, aging, sickness, and disorders as something ONLY to be “fixed.” Yet, I did not consider the message I’d heard quite plainly. Thank you for your honesty and for reminding me that we all have areas we can still grow. How do you feel about an initial self-disclosure? I was in a Fluency class recently and this strategy was utilized for interviews. Do you see that as a form of self-advocacy?

    Again, thank you so much! I truly enjoyed your video and writing.

    • Thank you for enjoying my cartoon! No worries about not considering the message. Even I am learning new things everyday 🙂

      I’m all for initial self-disclosure as it puts both the speaker and listener at ease. They know that I’m ok with my stuttering and they can be ok with it, too. The bonus is it opens up the opportunity for discussion, questions about stuttering, other people they have known who stuttered, etc. A great opportunity to spread awareness!

      However, the key is whenever the speaker feels most comfortable disclosing. For instance, it felt awkward at times when I first started disclosing. Am I disclosing too early in the conversation (“Hi, I’m Dan and I stutter”)? Am I apologizing for stuttering? Am I really disclosing because I fear judgement from others? As I tried various methods/timeframes, I found that disclosing when a stutter happens works best for me (“oh by the way, I speak with a stutter, anyway, as I was saying…”).

      I drew a series of Franky Banky comics offering different ways for disclosing stuttering in a variety of situations. You can check them out at https://www.frankybanky.com/how-to-tell-people-that-you-stutter/.

      Yes, I feel disclosing is a form of self-advocacy.

    • Danny,
      I have watched this movie so many times as well, but never reflected on the message it sent until now and have learned through SPL grad school that fluent speech is not always the best option. Like EChase, I am in graduate school to be an SPL, and our stuttering class has emphasized the fact that stuttering is not one thing that can easily be “fixed.” This can be a lifetime impairment and the media needs to express this to the world to reduce stereotypes! Thanks Danny for this interesting and compelling take on a movie that many of us have seen, but not deeply thought about the message it is sending to the world.

  3. I really loved this. What a unique and creative way to illustrate the message that we don’t need to be fluent to fit into this world – be it work, social, community or family.

    You are so very talented and I am glad you shared the wealth with others.
    Grant, Marc and Lynne were wonderful.

    You showcased stuttering, yeah, but also different accents, beautifully.

    Thank you for this.

    Pam

    • Thanks Pam! I really enjoyed putting this altogether and it was working with the gang to see it come to life. Excellent point about the different accents!

  4. Very creative. This is undoubtedly what Madeline Wahl had in mind with her call for the creation of stuttering art (in her essay within this section of the conference).

    • Thanks, Dale! It was a lot of fun to think up, create, and put together. I’m definitely going to check out Madeline’s post. Thanks for the recco!

  5. Loved it, Daniele…every word! Thank you for continuing to help us “fluenters” to reframe our own thinking about all things stuttering!

    Ana Paula

  6. Danny,
    This video was great!I am an SLP graduate student and I learned so much from this post. I love how you encourage people to step out of their comfort zones and accept their stutter. Spreading awareness is so important and is definitely something that I will actively practice in my profession.

    • Hi
      I totally agree with you about the King’s Speech. We have the same problem in the U.K. with a monumental programme called EducatingYorkshire that was on a few years ago when a young stammerer gave a speech in school with ear phones on provided by his teacher who had watched the film. Teachers are audiences around the country cried and were awe of his ‘fluency’. Wasn’t it wonderful he was speaking without his usual stammer responses. NO!!!!! So I love refreshing, liberating views like yours and the way you use Franky Banky to challenge stigma and put out there boldly and simply stammering as a variation of talking. FRANKY B-B-B-Banky ffffffor ever!!!!!!

      • I cringed at that video, too. While I haven’t forgotten what it was like in my covert days to worry about stuttering in front of all your peers during an age when fitting in and being cool was top priority, I just hope it didn’t turn into a crutch.

  7. Hi Daniele,

    I really enjoyed watching this video. It is okay to stutter, and it is okay to not have to be fluent all the time just to fit in with those who are not PWS. This further emphasizes to clinicians and future clinicians that stuttering does not need to be cured or fixed at all costs. It also lets PWS know that stuttering should not prevent them from saying what they want to say out of fear of stuttering in front of others. So creative while delivering an important message!

    Zaydell

  8. I love your work, Daniele!
    I’m very glad you chose to reinvent The King’s Speech in a way that calls PWS to action to empower the next generation of PWS. Such a strong message of advocacy done in a way that can make adults and children who stutter feel heard, and simultaneously make those who don’t stutter start to learn to hear.
    As an SLP graduate student, I remember hearing I needed to watch “The King’s Speech.” I still haven’t, but I’ve instead loved the journey my professors have taken us on in pursuit of redefining how stuttering is approached. Here’s to hoping we can one day see a new “must see for SLPs” that empowers PWS!

  9. Hi Danny,

    Thank you so much for submitting this work! I love the message you are sending out and teaching others, and it’s really easy to understand for all ages. I absolutely love the true narrative of not needing to be “fluent” in order to “fit in”, which is overrated as is, and is incredibly important to press upon the younger generations (especially in such a social media heavy age). I wonder if you’ll be posting this video on multiple platforms so that your message can reach further than the only one that it is on currently, or even if it would be possible to have this video shown throughout schools as well?

    Sincerely,
    Madeleine C.

  10. I loved your cartoon! I think you did a nice job normalizing open stuttering and showing some of the frustration behind some of the common misconceptions people have about stuttering. I think my favorite part was “I’m not nervous, I’m not stupid, I did not forget to breath.” The emotion behind was so apparent and I can really feel the frustration when people give you “advice” to be more fluent. I also loved at the end, when Stella congratulates Franky Banky for stammering so beautifully – that is such a great way to reframe stuttering!

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