Never go full retard

Sept 19 sees the Irish release of Tropic Thunder, starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr and Matthew McConaughey. Apparently Tom Cruise is in there somewhere too.

I’ll be washing my hair. It’s a pity, because the assembled cast has given me quite a few chuckles over the years. It’s a bridge too far this time however.

The movie is about a bunch of actors who are researching for a Vietnam-era war movie. It’s a send-up of actors and studios and the whole Hollywood pancake in theory, but unfortunately the makers of the movie, DreamWorks and Paramount, have stirred up a hornet’s nest with the US disability lobby.

The actor character played by Ben Stiller, Tugg Speedman, has key scenes in the movie which recreate a character he has played called Simple Jack. Jack is a ‘retard’. This element of the movie gives rise to a slew of objectionable phrases slanted directly at the disabled. Take the following, a conversation between Downey Jr’s character and Stiller’s, revolving around Stiller’s decision to play said ‘retard’:

Stiller: There were times when I was doing Jack when I actually felt retarded. Like really retarded.

Downey: Oh yeah. Damn.

Stiller: In a weird way, I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that it was okay to be stupid or dumb.

Downey: To be a moron.

Stiller: Yeah.

Downey: To be moronical.

Stiller: Exactly.

Downey: An imbecile.

Stiller: Yeah. When I was playing a character.

Downey: When you was a character.

Stiller: Yeah, I mean, as Jack. Definitely.

Downey: It’s like working with mercury. It’s how science makes art form.

Stiller: Yeah.

Downey: You an artist.

Stiller: It’s what we do, right?

Downey: Everybody knows you never do a full retard.

Stiller: What do you mean?

Downey: Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, Rainman, look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic. Sure. Not retarded.

You know Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump. Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and he won a ping-pong competition? That ain’t retarded.

You went full retard, man. Never go full retard.

You know what I find most interesting (in the I really mean disappointing sense)? That Ben Stiller co-wrote this. He wrote out the word retard or retarded eleven times, just in those few lines quoted (and a whole lot more, believe it), and it never occurred to him that he was training a bazooka on an incredibly large gathering of relatively helpless people? I can’t believe that. He’s a funny guy, he plays to his strengths, he’s not afraid to be unpopular, but I cannot remember him ever going out of his way to deliberately target or hurt people who are already at several disadvantages: physically; mentally; within society at large; financially, and on and on. Taking the piss out of models in Zoolander almost counts, but it doesn’t.

There’s no excuse for it. If you don’t know or aren’t related to someone with a disability you may possibly fail to see the creeping clawback here of gains made by thousands upon thousands of people with disabilities and their advocates over the last few dozen years. But items like this movie, unchallenged, are representing just that: a diminution of the full rights of ordinary people who happen to have enough on their plates already. It’s a pernicious slide, and I don’t think I’m being a stuffy old PC crust for bringing it up. It matters to me at a gut level.

I’ll be back on this topic again. Meanwhile the movie is scheduled to be released in the US this Wednesday 13th August. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, expects a boycott in Hollywood from a cross-section of disability advocacy groups, which you can read about here. If you want to inform yourself some more on it, Pat Bauer has plenty posted on the subject.

I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. I’m not going to tell you to boycott this movie (made incidentally through the usually most sensitive Steven Spielberg’s production company). I do suggest that you consider what I’ve just said and then make an informed judgement

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41 comments on “Never go full retard

  1. I read your comment on Patricia Bauer’s site and appreciate your response to Keyser. What you said was heartfelt. But I don’t think people will ever understand our concern until they’ve walked in our shoes. Thank you, again. Elisabeth’s Mom, Donna

  2. Elbog says:

    Well said. I’m holding out because I really don’t have anything unique to add to the growing cacaphony. I think this may be a pivotal moment in a movement that shouldn’t have needed to happen. Thanks!

  3. Sesame says:

    Dunno what to say here Nick other than thanks for informing me of this..I had planned to go see it (as I get a get out of jail free card to hit the cinema every fortnight with my sisters). No doubt when I pass this info onto them they will agree to not go see it..And to think I was at Tom Waits gig in Phoenix Park the night Ben Stiller was in town and was mad didn’t get to see him…what a dumbass.

  4. hammie says:

    and so say all of us.

    xx

  5. Are you Serious??? Is this for Real???
    I had to read it again, and then come back again after a few hours (I must be WAY out of touch here!). I am an optimist, the glass is 99% of the time half full, so I thought:
    1st – This is just Ignorance. They don’t know what they are talking about, never been in contact with “retards” as they call them, etc, etc, etc… But surely someone, somewhere in the big Film World should have known better and pointed out a few facts?
    2nd – Ok, if it’s not ignorance, it’s plain Stupidity. You know, when you do something on the spur of the moment, thinking it’s a great idea. . . But THIS is not a spur-of-the-moment thing, it in the bloody script…
    3rd – So is it Humour gone very wrong? Bad judgement? Going too far? Again too many people involved, all this vetting, etc… it just doesn’t fit.

    In other words, I can’t believe it!

    Last thought: could the end result actually be positive, the storm of protest being so strong it brings about a debate that will put a few people back in the cages where they belong? This might be wishful thinking on my part. … Half full only 99% of the time…

    PS. By the way, Zoolander is So Good, well deserved… and I don’t care if I am not PC here,… for once.

  6. FrancesJ says:

    Thanks for pointing this out to me. I LOVE Zoolander, and appreciate non-PC humour hugely, but mother of GOD????? I have no problem poking fun at people who are able to defend themselves, but this is actually abusive. And as a poster above said, how on earth did someone along the film-making food chain not have the gumption to see that????
    I’ll be spreading the word bigtime to boycott this film.
    XXX

  7. Christine says:

    Great post Nick.

    I must admit, I like satire, and I usually like Ben Stiller. I’m not overly concerned about being PC. I’m more about being kind and decent. People who think this is just about being PC, just don’t get it.

    I must admit, I’m really disappointed that Ben Stiller took it this far because I like him. I bet a good part of this movie is very funny, and the satire is obvious. I didn’t see the movie, and I don’t think I am going to. A part of me wants to because I really don’t like passing judgement on something without experiencing it myself, but from what I have read and seen; it is clear that this movie has crossed the line.

    It’s too bad. Ben Stiller and company didn’t need to do this. They are talented and funny; they didn’t need to resort to this type of cruel humor to make a successful spoof.

  8. Nick McGivney says:

    Chris: exactly so. Talented people who didn’t need to shoot fish in a barrel.

    Frances: every ticket not sold is a little kick in the pants to Dreamworks et al.

    Nan P: agreed. I won’t be boycotting Ben Stiller forever, I hope, but serious judgemental errors on this one.

    Hammie: Thanks for the link. Eloquent and simply put.

    Elbog: Thanks for the mail and the support. It’s a source of strength for me to know that there are like-minded people out there and in reach.

    Elisabeth’s Mom: I’m not sure it’s a battle we can win either. But it IS a battle we can fight. Please keep visiting here. Yours is one more voice against what’s unfair from people who have the resources to know better.

  9. Jenny H says:

    Good post. I just can’t believe they would produce a movie like that. It’s just sick.
    I so hope the tickets don’t sell!!!
    Jeny

  10. Dick says:

    I find it interesting how so many people think Ben Stiller is out to hurt disabled children and adults by his bit about Simple Jack. He’s pointing out how shallow and uncaring Hollywood and actors in general are toward things that matter to most Americans. Is it nice? Absolutely not. However, it is funny to note that most in Hollywood wouldn’t care two bits about the disabled if it didn’t benefit them.

    As an aside, I’m not an absolute cad, and my step-brother has trisomy-21. He has to have help and has lived in assisted living. I laugh at the idea of how insulated Hollywood is from reality. I don’t laugh at the use of the word retard.

    also, why no complaints about a white guy playing a black guy???? Doesn’t affect you, so you don’t care? Seems a bit hypocritical. I laugh at the intended joke, and I don’t read into something that isn’t there. Enjoy the movie or at least suffer through it before you go bashing it. You can’t complain about the taste of the meal you never ate.

  11. Nick McGivney says:

    Fair points well made, Dick, and I’m glad to have someone introduce a different perspective on it here. I can buy that BS (?) may have had Hollywood idiots in his sights, but it doesn’t change for one minute the fact that it gives currency to a term of abuse that will be aimed at an incredibly exposed group of vulnerable and, for the most part, trusting people. That also answers your point about white playing black. Within the movie that very point is up for criticism, and the large selection of black people who may take offence are entirely free to do so, and entirely capable of vocalising it. My son Jacob will never be capable of it, so I will endeavour to do so on his behalf while God gives me breath. If Ben Stiller is guilty of anything less than stupidity, it is incredible naivete. If we can voice our concerns and in the process burn the fingers of Hollywood in the only way they can feel, ie at the cash register, then perhaps they will think twice. That their motive is only greed won’t bother me. I will be succeeding in stopping them – and Ben Stiller – putting hip new phrases in the mouths of impressionable young kids who may not realise how powerfully hurtful their words can be.
    I thank you for putting your points across, especially given the depth of feeling against them before you ever got here. Keep it coming!

  12. Mike 0 says:

    LOL This movie looks like it’s hella funny.

  13. Rick M says:

    I am going to see this movie, and thoroughly enjoy it. Trying to boycott a movie because of something an actor says in said movie is entirely unreasonable. If you voluntarily go to see something, and something in that movie offends you, leave! It is that simple. Also, for a bunch of people that claim to promote free speech and equal rights, you sure are quick to jump on anyone who says anything you don’t like, and try to boycott what they said, or try to get them fired. Now you are trying to get the word “Retard” banned? I’m not sure how you interpret the 1st amendment, but it pretty much says citizens of this nation can say whatever they want. I am in the US Army, and have seen horrors beyond what many of you know, and have seen courage and sacrifice beyond anything any of these “Pro-rights” people will show. It offends me that you try to demean the very right that you enact to demean said right, which, to me, shows blatant disrespect and regard for those who fight, bleed, and die for your right to be… well, retarded.

  14. Nick McGivney says:

    Rick M, I applaud you speaking your mind. I must correct you on your inaccuracy however. Refer to my last paragraph in the post above. It says ‘I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. I’m not going to tell you to boycott this movie… I do suggest that you consider what I’ve just said and then make an informed judgement.’ To repeat, I am not going to tell you to boycott this movie. Do NOT boycott this movie. Make an informed judgement. Get the facts. Your final sentence slides into disrespect and further inaccuracy because I allow you the freedom to speak on my personal blog. This is not a constitutional arena as my blog is not based in the US but I will nonetheless allow your comment to stand. It helps my argument. You may correct the inaccuracies if you wish to return.
    With respect and best wishes.

  15. Sharon says:

    Hi Nick

    I’m glad to have found your blog and appreciate this post. I’m also happy to see the ASAN video posted by Hammie a few comments up.

    To get to a point made by Dick, RDJ plays a man in black face, but is challenged by black characters and others frequently throughout. There is no disputing that the character is supposed to be considered an ass to have taken that step. Other black characters call him out on his ignorance. I’ve also read that the film was shown to audiences of black Americans before release to check it didn’t go too far. It’s clear they never even considered the input of disabled people.

    The exchange Nick detailed above is very telling. It purports to pick fun at Hollywood’s portrayal of disabled characters, but it sounds much more like it is taking the piss out of developmentally disabled people. Jeez, sometimes the actors playing disabled characters do a good job. I heard people complain about Sigourney Weaver playing an autistic woman in last year’s Snow Cake, but I thought she was great.

    Anyway, I agree with you that attempting to ban the word is silly and impossible, but it is worth educating them about why it is hurtful to people like our children.

    Rick M, Nick never said anything about a boycott. He has chosen not to go. I watched the trailer months ago with my husband and thought it looked hilarious. We were going to see it on release, but now, having learned what else is in it, won’t bother.

  16. Ali Anwer says:

    I cannot understand the position of the people who have mental disabilities or of those who are related to them because I am not one of the 2 groups.

    Having said that, we have to appreciate that this sort of conversation does go on among people – not putting it on the giant screen does not make it go away. I remember when I first heard the dialogue in Godfather about selling drugs only to black people because ‘they are animals anyway’ – I was shocked but then I realized that the dialogue in the mainstream movie represents a part of reality. So does this movie. How many people say ‘mentally disabled’ and not just ‘retard’ privately? I don’t think many do.

    The protests do play a part because they are a campaign against the R-word. However if people miss this movie just because they used the word 17 times, they will be losing out on a truly funny film.

    Go see the movie and decide for yourself. I saw it and enjoyed it a lot.

  17. Nick McGivney says:

    Sharon, thank you for your comment. Agreed all round, including Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of autism. I’m not terribly up-close familiar with it, but I can tell when something’s been done decently and with respect.

    Ali, I would consider you to be one of the majority of people: perhaps with no personal experience but thoughtful, articulate and balanced. I shared your sentiment on that scene on the Godfather, btw, and rationalised it for myself as you did. My complaints will not make this problem go away. I accept that. I also know that I have an uphill battle with the crass and hurtful who will mock those different. But the core of my argument on this issue is crystal clear to me: Hollywood must take note, and Dreamworks must be made to apologise for this seditious attempt (The Simple Jack merchandise and marketing materials) to increase revenue at the expense of the intellectually disabled. It’s cold, man. They are absolutely morally obliged to do so. Their lawyers can bring the rest to the opposite conclusion, but in my heart I know they are wrong and attempted to play ‘retards’ for bucks. Shame on them, and shame that they could’ve made a more generous film for everybody.
    I won’t be seeing it, Ali, but I sincerely thank you for your comment.

  18. Wannabuyamonkey says:

    Were the statements shallow and ignorant? Yes, but that’s the point. The scene wasn’t an attempt to disparage the mentally handicapped, it was an attempt to express the shallow ignorance of Hollywood.

  19. Nick McGivney says:

    Point accepted, monkeyseller, but the collateral damage remains.

  20. hammie says:

    I just read Empire Magazine’s August Edition (supermarket gives it to Boo for free with the cover torn off) And the review of T.T. Not a mention of the R word specifically. Just a lot of “taking out sacred cows” crapola, and mention of some viral marketing using “Heart of Darkness” themes.
    Methinks they thought the film would bomb, so whipped up a bit of controversy to fuel publicity.
    which is even worse than just making the silly film.
    In the interview (and remember Empire do their interviews on set, while the film is in production) Robert Downey takes the Mickey out of Ben Stiller for making “The Heartbreak Kid” while R.D.J. has just had an obvious hit with Ironman. He keeps at it, so I suspect everyone wanted Ben to have a hit this time.

    And we fell for it like the suckers we are! Still, as you said Nick, we couldnt let this go unmarked. But for now, I think we should let the U.K.-Eire release pass with a whimper. What you reckon?

  21. Tony Rodmon says:

    I’ve worked with people with down syndrome, and I have a very close relative with down syndrome.. But I didn’t find this very offensive? If Ben Stiller’s character was incredibly intelligent the whole movie and then read these lines that would be different. But he is, like in all his movies, a likable dumbass, who says dumbass things. Someone asked me in real life, refering to my family member with down syndrome, if it was contagious. Now THAT is offensive, because thats not a script…

  22. J. Hill says:

    “Were the statements shallow and ignorant? Yes, but that’s the point. The scene wasn’t an attempt to disparage the mentally handicapped, it was an attempt to express the shallow ignorance of Hollywood.”

    Exactly the line is funny not cause it makes fun of mentally challenged people, and if did it wouldn’t have been funny, but it shows the lack of understanding and shallowness of hollywood and actors… Being overly PC is retarded… Pun intended…

  23. B Chill says:

    The entire point of the movie was to show how completely self-absorbed and inflated actors are. Stiller’s character, after playing a disabled characters, and says:
    “In a weird way, I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that it was okay to be stupid or dumb.”

    At which point Downey’s character shows how “retarded” has lots of negative connotations and he himself has no compassion for the handicapped.

    This is really about showing how horribly self-absorbed actors are, being more concerned about the feeling of pretending to be someone than the plight of those they portray.

    I seriously doubt many actors who have played the mentally challenged give a crap about them beyond what their agents tell them will make them look good to the public eye.

  24. […] gonna bother commenting on the whole use of the ‘R’ bomb in the particular scene. Obviously there are people who have their own individual reasons for not wanting to see the film, and that’s fine. To me the film surpassed all of what ended […]

  25. Eric says:

    I thought it was one of the funniest parts of the whole movie…I can see now how some might find it offensive, I just never reached that deep into it.

  26. […] It makes him a whole richer person in my eyes (even before I read the bit where he said he thought Ben Stiller was a little turd for making Tropic Thunder. Tee […]

  27. MTS says:

    If you do not like the movie, then do not rent it. The first amendment trumps your wishes for political correctness. You do not have the right to not be offended. I didn’t care for the movie, but I loathe anybody who wants to legislate politically correct speech.

    And.. here’s how well your boycott has worked:

    as of Nov 9 it has grossed 110 million, which exceeds the amount spent to make it by 18 mill. Now we have DVD, rentals, and pay per view coming in to push the numbers up even more.

  28. Nick McGivney says:

    MTS – read the post before deciding what I did or did not say. I have never, at any point in this movie’s glorious lifespan, suggested a boycott. Never. Go check. I also predicted – as did some who felt the same way about the movie – that our dislike would probably add to its marketing machine’s efforts. We’re lucky to have you with your knowledge of its grosses to show that this is the case. Incidentally, the first amendment guarantees me nothing. But being the father of a boy with Down syndrome guarantees that I will have to suffer the views of people who do not understand, sometimes despite their best efforts, just exactly what it means to advocate with sometimes purveyors of free speech, more times blithe adopters of uncaring language, on behalf of my son and others like him who will not be in a position to advocate for themselves in the same way.
    As for your statement ‘You do not have the right to not be offended,’ I’m afraid I simply don’t understand what you mean. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Respectfully I still disagree with you.
    The man who didn’t say boycott.

  29. Will Graves says:

    Sorry but I thought it was really really funny. I don’t have any relatives that are handicapped, but friends and friends that have handicapped brothers/sisters, and my wife is a special ed teacher. She punches me when I say retard and I do it just to raise the hackles. You know boys will be boys, and I don’t have any problem with the show, I’ll watch it again. This country is WAY too P.C. and if we ever experience REAL hunger or suffering we won’t worry about stupid stuff like this.

  30. Jonathan says:

    Thank you Will Graves. Seriously this PC thing is getting way out of hand. That dialogue is actually one of the funniest of the entire movie, and honestly, the only I stumbled across this blog is because I was looking for a t-shirt that says “never go full retard”. That may be insensitive to you high and holy people, but please, it´s harmless. Why not treat people with dissabilities the same way as everyone else. Why do they have to be sheltered when it´s allowed to make fun of overweight people, people of other races or religious affiliation. Take sticks out of your a**es, and try relaxing for a second. I may be out of line, coming from a country that actually upholds their right to freedom of speech (Denmark). We have absolutely no censorship whatsoever, and it´s really liberating. Of course I´m not saying that you can go around insulting people whenever you want, but this is a movie, a hilarious one. Please try finding some real problems to complain about and lighten up.

  31. Nick McGivney says:

    Will Graves: ‘Stupid stuff like this’ happens to be part of the lives of many people who visit and comment here. And I’d encourage you to meet people with kids who have Down syndrome and have major heart defects because of it, are deaf because of it, have trouble swallowing their food or have leukemia because of it, and suggest to them that their kids and they have never experienced real suffering, and do drop back and let us know their reactions. Thanks for commenting.

    Jonathan, likewise. I would be one happy camper if my biggest problem was with do-gooders who are just out to spoil my enjoyment of a movie. Why not treat people with disabilities the same as everyone else? Well for one, they might need that heart medication or that wheelchair or hearing aid more than anyone else. Think about that while you were queueing for the popcorn? Having freedom of speech is a wonderful thing and never to be taken lightly. It does have its consequences though, in that you must be willing to stand by whatever thing it is you say, no matter how misguided, inexperienced or plain foolish. And to tell people who come to this blog that they have ‘sticks in their asses’ because they express their concerns or their outrage over issues of which you clearly have no experience isn’t just plain wrong and rude, it has its consequences too. Your words will still be here to remind you of your current self, Jonathan, when hopefully your opinion will have moved on to other, more thoughtful insights. Good luck with the t-shirt hunt, but do not be surprised if a statement like ‘Never go full retard’ ends up making some people mad, and some people cry. That will be because of the experience I mentioned, that they have and you don’t.I just wouldn’t rush up to them and tell them to lighten up if I was you. Thank you for commenting openly and honestly.

  32. Will Graves says:

    I am retarded a little. I have asbergers and ocd and a bad stutter and my teeth are really bad, and I have no problem with this movie. You people are way too PC and you need to get a life.

  33. […] I’m not addressing the hate use of the word. All of those folks stopped by when we had our heated debate about Tropic Thunder last year. And most of them were binned because they were reta- oops! Close […]

  34. Rafael B. says:

    Are you serious? So if “I Am Sam” was a comedy you would be angry on Sean Penn? What about “Life is Beautiful” (La vita è bella) of Roberto Benigni, would it be inappropriate to laugh in a holocaust movie? What about countless movies that associate Jews with being money grabbing long nose people..

    Come’on. You’re taking this so far because you feel you should, because you know, or are related, to a person with mental disabilities.

    You should know that laughing about yourself is healthy, nobody’s perfect and even mental disabled people have a sense of humor. But then again, maybe you are a perfect person (with no sense of humor at all).

    • Nick McGivney says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Rafael. I guess I’m in the fortunate position of being able to see this one from both sides. I wasn’t always this close to issues that concern people with Down Syndrome, but now I am. I agree with you that laughing about ourselves is healthy. But you’d really need to ask people with Ds if they’re laughing at that particular portrayal of themselves. In my experience they are not. You’re also making an assumption about me acting because I feel I should. Again, you’re correct, but I’m not sure you understand why I feel motivated to. When someone with the media power of Robert Downey or Ben Stiller turns a spotlight on people who do not have the same firepower, cruelty is the end result in their lives. It is that simple, Rafael, and I am personally involved and there is nothing I can or would want to do to change that. You’ve taken a swipe at me in the end which is a bit unfair. Read some more on the blog. I think the sense of humour is intact. And as for being perfect, yes I am. I can’t admit to it of course, because that would be a slight imperfection and would ruin the claim.
      On a serious note, here’s a link to a professional actor, Eddie Barbanell, who has a lot more insight than I do and sums up why your overall point can’t hold water for a lot of people. And I am grateful that you took the time to be so thoughtful in what you wrote. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfMlrTV_5vY

  35. Stu says:

    I just stumbled across this link as I was browsing the web…I have to say, I have worked with disabled both mentaly and physically and yep, they’re making the best of the cards they’ve been dealt, i don’t envy them….However, thinking that this movie went deliberatly out of it’s way to upset people is a bit of an outragious statement, he’s a comedian, a succesful one, basically because he knows that most modern humour touches on subjects that are deeemed too politically correct, to cross the line and shock people is a common comical theme – He does it well and knows when it’s too far….This movie is one of the funniest I’ve ever seen because they’re mocking the seriousness of actors and the acting world….Get a grip of yourself, Political Corectness is what stops people enjoying themselves, we’re only human and are allowed to have fun….

    • Nick McGivney says:

      You know Stu I’m not even going to argue with you because we’re coming from different planets here, and that’s not your fault or mine. Just don’t assume that you know everything about this. None of us does. But here’s someone who knows more about it than either of us, talking with Johnny Knoxville. Thanks for taking the time to comment. http://bit.ly/cyPtvk

  36. DutyGuy says:

    While I respect where you are coming from (my brother in law is mentally disabled), and I have never, EVER, made fun of anybody for being mentally disabled, I have to say that this makes no sense.

    We as a society have been making more and more things taboo. It is creating a sterile, if not hostile, culture. Pretty soon we won’t be able to say anything. The problem with language is that every word is a label. And people don’t like a labels. But if you are offended by a label so much, why ASSOCIATE yourself with such an offensive label.

    Personally, I have never called anybody with a mental disability a retard. And if I ever saw anybody mistreating a person with mental disabilities, they would find the back of my hand very displeasing. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t use the word: “Retard” or “Retarded”.

    The English language has a very strange way of using slang or changing the way you use a word. I won’t try and justify use of the word. But, just as I would never call a gay person a “Faggot”, I would never call a mentally disabled person a “Retard”. My use of such words as “retard”, “gay”, “fag”, “lame”, etc. transcends their original or intended use. I only use them amongst friends and in jest. I understand the pain some people feel, though I cannot fully appreciate what they deal with every day. However, does it mean I can’t appreciate a good joke?

    I am all for eliminating the hate and venomous things people can say. That being said, there was absolutely NO anger, hate, or venom behind the things said in Tropic Thunder.

    As others have pointed out, as I will do here, it just seems to be overly sensitive is all. If we can’t laugh, what can we do?

    And must I point out the irony in Boycotting the movie, yet reproducing the offensive portion of the film on your blog suggesting the boycott? As well as your use of the word you wish to avoid altogether?

    I’m not trying to come off as hostile to your plight. But some of your replies have some heat in them.

    • Nick McGivney says:

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to get your thoughts together and being so thorough. There’s a lot in here that we agree on in fact, but I’d like to clarify two points, DutyGuy. I do not and did not suggest a boycott of the movie, at any stage. I don’t believe in that approach. I used that portion of the film because I think we should look at the matter closely. That is part of the bigger issue with this word: that we look at it precisely because we who are not ‘retarded’ can, objectively, on behalf of those who cannot. They are the ones who suffer unfairly through the casual use of the word. And suffer is not too big a word. They’re not playing on a level pitch and careless (and often spiteful) use of the word hurts them. Any embarrassment or upset it might cause me is, frankly, irrelevant. I am advocating for someone else.
      Second point is same as the first really. I don’t think we can eradicate the use of the word retard, and I wouldn’t want to if we could. Altering perceptions is already a big enough job thank you very much, without all that. I know you guys have a strong lobby working for precisely that goal, but it isn’t one I have a strong belief in. I prefer sunlight, because only in the sunlight can we hold up the things that we do to honest scrutiny.
      You are far from hostile btw. Your honest thoughtfulness is refreshing. My own experience has changed over the last few years because of Jacob. It becomes clearer all the time however that he does not suffer from Down syndrome, but prejudice reinforced by negative stereotyping, however banal it might appear from the ‘non-retarded’ perspective, does cause great suffering to people with Down syndrome.

  37. P. says:

    Oh my gosh… Are you kidding?
    It’s the funniest monologue ever!
    Makes fun of acting, not of retarded people!
    How can u possibly be offended by something that is clearly a joke about actors, acting, and the Academy Awards?
    Where’s your sense of humor, people?
    I totally respect handicapped people, and this scene is purely FUNNY!
    It’s not disrespectful at all!
    I mean, come on!
    “Ask Sean Penn?” ha!ha!ha! I laugh every time I hear him saying it!
    Please, enjoy a good laugh, that’s what it is.
    I repeat… it’s not making fun of retarded people, it’s making fun of Hollywood… Do you really need me to say it? It’s pretty obvious! :o)
    have a lovely day, everybody! :o)

  38. Senna says:

    Do any of you actually know anyone with mental disabilities? See, I work with mentally disabled people helping them take care of their needs and the ones who are able to communicate have told me that they’re okay with some humor on the subject. There’s a limit of course but people treat them like they’re made is glass because they aren’t as able and treating their disability like a taboo subject had made a lot of them feel worse about it. Not saying the way the movie does it is good or ok, for the record, I personally think the way it was done was not tasteful at all. I’m just trying to point out that not all of them are incapable of defending themselves, and the ones that are able to (that I personally know) weren’t offended.

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