Taking this retarded fight to the national airwaves

Tomorrow morning between nine and eleven, national Irish broadcaster Newstalk 106 will debate the upcoming Ben Stiller movie Tropic Thunder. It ought to get lively. Opinions will be sought, including mine. The film opens today in the US. Its premiers have attracted crowds of protesters who wish to ban it.

I haven’t seen it, and I’m not in favour of banning it, or proscribing the words used in it for that matter, although the ‘R word’ (as the US euphemism is known to the disability lobbyists) has much more weight there than it does here. More on that at a later date. What I do have a problem with is the way that DreamWorks has manipulated the content of this movie, to the point of making a dedicated website, trailer and even merchandising for the fictitious movie within Tropic Thunder called Simple Jack. Its strapline read ‘Once there was a retard.’ References to it on the web have pretty much disappeared. Step up and take a bow, US Disability lobbyists.

(In my utter naivete, I know) I see studios as being a type of moral barometer in these issues. Or at least I want to see them that way. The tone they set will in turn be adopted by the more impressionable, especially the young. The fact that a stellar cast of great comedic talent is involved makes this all the more likely. Fourteen year olds don’t give a flying monkey’s about the scriptwriters’ determination to lampoon Hollywood. They’ll think ‘retard’ bashing is an open sport, and vulnerable people will be hurt. That’s the point for me. Just that. And I want to make my point known. Thanks to people who have opened up the debate so far, including here and here. Apologies if I left you out.

If you want to voice your opinion for Newstalk’s debate you can email yourcall@newstalk.ie and mark the subject Tropic Thunder.

Major thanks to Hammie for the push on this one. She is queen of everything, you know.

5 comments on “Taking this retarded fight to the national airwaves

  1. enc says:

    I thought the trailers for this film looked silly, so I really wasn’t interested in it. However, when I heard they were calling people “retards” in the film, and subsequently that there was debate, my decision not to see it was cemented.

    I don’t think we need to keep on using that term to refer to people who have disabilities. You’re exactly right when you say there are those among us who “think ‘retard’ bashing is an open sport, and vulnerable people will be hurt.”

    The use of the word “retard” in a mainstream film will only fire the misuse of the word.

    Hammie did a brilliant bit on the comments on this post by our Sister Wolf:

    Maybe you’ll go check it out. Sister Wolf comments on Hammie’s blog often. You probably already know this.

  2. Ben says:

    Hi Nick

    Heard you this morning on my way into work. It was great to hear the passion you have for your son. It made for good readio.

    I probably will check out the film. I wouldnt actively go around saying such terms but you can’t help what you laugh at. If poeple think its a sign of a sense of immaturity, again its opinion. But im guessing i will laugh at this flick.

    Again well done on the radio slot, despite the nerves you came accross very well.


  3. hammie says:

    Is that Ben? as in Ben Stiller commenting? Nice of him to drop by Nick.
    Nick you did great today. It is a pity it wasnt an open discussion around a table where you could have answered the film critic who knew so little about “The Ringer” and the comedian who thought it was possible to compare an on stage one off performance to something that is going to be played on adolescent boys DVD players for years.
    But you spoke up for Jacob and all the other kids who might want to grow up in an inclusive and affirmative society

  4. Nick McGivney says:

    enc, your support is highly valued on this, and thank you for spreading the message.

    ben, glad you’re informing yourself before you exercise your choices. Hope it’s enjoyable on many levels. I suspect I’d enjoy it myself in another time. Thanks for the comment though.

    ham, thank you.

  5. Sesame says:

    I admire someone who has the courage of their convictions and you certainly do Nick..didn’t hear Newstalk but I can imagine you came across well if your posts are anything to go by. Hammie is a great soldier to have alongside..Good on you.

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