Seriously. You are guaranteed an Oscar if you play a mental.

Let’s have a heated debate! Opening salvo in the Irish media on Tropic Thunder. I spoke to Newstalk early Thursday about my problems with the movie. You’ll have to overlook the nasty case of cotton mouth I got at the start of the conversation. I ain’t no media-savvy talker. But I think I covered what I wanted to say. Eventually.

Newstalk 106 on Tropic Thunder

More here from Lisa and from Peter on Newstalk

As I suspected, there was a barrage of ‘Well don’t go and see it then’ type comments, but the funniest for me had to be when an emailer with red hair likened schoolday name calling (Rusty? Ginger? Dunno. S/he didn’t elaborate.) to the ‘Never go Full Retard’ conundrum. Even to the point of saying they were ok now, and what’s the big deal exactly? I know that’ll be a huge comfort to those who have Down syndrome. When they eventually grow out of it they’ll laugh and hoot at other ‘retards’ and there’ll be cotton candy for everyone and-

But how will they defend themselves without the right tools? Oops, pics of right tools included.

Oh enough sarcasm. My head is tired with this yin-yang. I want to thank two people tonight. Firstly Hammie, who’s been hammering home all the pieces of the debate that I dropped (and there were lots) on forums all over the place. Secondly rock on to Sharon who made some superb points across a few forums. Not only is she concerned and vocal, but she’s also thorough. (She posted this at her place and I’m hijacking it.) Here’s where Stiller got the inspiration for his inspired and inspiring send-up of Tinseltown, actors and egotism:

And more news reports :

And on the other hand…

From the fully informed perspective, Tom at Narrow Ridge has seen, and has written a very balanced view here. He also has a son with DS, Ian, and so his perspective is relevant. Read part 1 here…

And from Suzie Smith in Utah, first hand opinion on the movie here.

8 comments on “Seriously. You are guaranteed an Oscar if you play a mental.

  1. enc says:

    It’s important to be the voice for those who don’t have voices on this issue. It was nice to hear yours talking about what matters.

  2. hammie says:

    You might think that was Hammie on the radjo, I couldnt possibly comment……

  3. Christine says:

    I wish I could have heard you over the airwaves. I’m sure you were great! Thanks for taking such a public stand on an issue that is so important not only to our kids, but to society as a whole.

    Everyone has hopes they can make the world a better place. It’s time to start putting actions behind those words. How lucky we are that we can make the world a better place just by the words choose to use. It is so simple. It amazes me that people can actually defend using words that hurt.

  4. tom says:

    Well spoken, Nick, bravo. Through your words I could really hear how much you care for your son and for the the world he has to live in. You were much more articulate than I ever could have been. That’s why I stay behind the camera. 🙂

    I hate the “Well, don’t go see it” or “Turn the channel” argument. If I don’t like something, I won’t watch it. But I’m worried that little Billy down the street will watch it, believe it and then act on it. (And by “it” I mean any hot button issue of the day.) The argument should not be whether I prefer something or don’t prefer it; God knows that there are tons of things that I prefer that aren’t good for me.

    The question should be, “Is it good for me, for you, for society?” Then you run into the problem of who decides what is good for us… but that’s where the conversation should be held.

    At least I would prefer it be held. 🙂

  5. Elbog says:

    Finally got to complete this post (all the media stuff’s blocked where I was viewing it before, lol).
    First, it’s great to hear your voice!
    As Tom said, it’s as much about the dialog as it is about the awareness; well done on both counts.
    Thank you. The best part for me was the tenor of your voice when you declared your intentions regarding Jacob’s defense. No doubts there.
    And what did the radio guy call TT? A “piss-take”?
    I like that. I like that very much.

  6. Marcus says:

    It’s great that organizations working to make the lives of disabled people have a chance to make some noise. A bit of publicity like this should help garner the support of otherwise neutral citizens.

    Was the movie satirical and off color? Certainly to some. Is it reasonable to assume that it will have some kind of demonstrated affect on how people treat each other? Not likely. Is the movie the problem? Not remotely. Was this movement started before anyone had even seen the movie? Yes.

    We should ask ourselves what we are fighting for. I know the “the rights of those who cannot defend themselves” mantra. This hardly addresses the actual point. It looks like the desire is to protect people from rudeness. It looks like you hope to keep some people from being impolite to others. Even if we could accomplish this goal would we really want to? Do we really want to live in a world where everyone is so paralyzed with worry about injuring the delicate feelings of everyone else that they can’t function? How far are we willing to go in censoring the words of others? It is a slippery slope, at best.

    At some point we have to laugh at ourselves. At some point we have to realize that not everyone is reverent about our situation. Hopefully when we come to this realization we can recognize the fact that we should move on. We can certainly inform others that they have harmed (at least from our perspective) us but we cannot and should not attempt to bully others into feeling shame about our circumstances. Our circumstances are our own. Our sensitivity is our own business and when we attempt to make it everyone else’s responsibility we are not doing anyone a favor.

    I laughed all through the movie unabashedly. I did not come out raring to insult some retards. I did not come to the realization that mentally handicapped people should be ridiculed and hurt as much as possible. It is foolish to think that this will come from this movie.

  7. hammie says:

    I guess all I have to add to that Marcus is that hopefully, this will be the end of it. The movie on its own was a bad enough idea but now that we have made our noise about it, other unimaginative film makers will think twice about exploiting the idea again. And using viral marketing to highlight the worst aspect of it.

    I am still deciding whether to go see it at the cinema. The owner of our local multi-plex lets Boo and I in for free to watch the credits of movies that are too long or too serious or too quiet for people to tolerate a bit of “audio descriptive” as I like to call it; when my son narrates aspects of the film. He also does a bit of whooping and flapping when he likes a film, which he does BIG TIME at the credits.
    A film like this is bound to have cracking credits. And my son who is 11 next birthday has been asking for Tropic Thunder for the last 2 months when he read about it on the dreamworks website. So If he asks for it, will I say no, wait for the DVD; or will I take him to the cinema and ask the manager if we can watch the credits. And what will happen when he starts whooping and hollering as everyone leaves the cinema?
    I won’t do it for spite, if that was my intent then I would take him to see the whole film, and taser anyone who complained. But not taking him to the credits would be unusual.

  8. Nick McGivney says:

    Marcus, many thanks for joining in and putting some time into this debate. You’re making excellent and informed points, in some respects more informed than mine. In other respects however I have what I am reluctant to call an advantage, but certainly a perspective that’s more fully formed by parenting a child with Down syndrome. It will be impossible to graph, but my gut feeling is that this movie will be enjoyed innocently by many, many people. Nonetheless I have to bang my one drum continuously. The rights of those who cannot defend themselves IS a mantra as you say, but I know that for me it is essential to the whole argument. Those impressionable teenagers who will not enjoy and analyse the film with anything like your erudition are being played for suckers by Dreamworks, because they won’t actually realise how hurtful the specifics of the Simple Jack subplot have been and will be for years to come. Through either mindless stupidity or perhaps more callous calculatedness, Dreamworks has just added to the teen lexicon, but the price for their most recent four-word phrase will be paid by people like my son. I expect reverence for my situation or Jacob’s from absolutely no one. I think the ‘Extras’ clip with Kate Winslett shown above is top-drawer writing and exceptionally well crafted and acted humour. If you knew me personally, Marcus, you’d know that politeness is not one of my particularly strong traits. Listen to my sound clip. I’m stuttering to the same point. I will not have others hurt people who are at a disadvantage when I can do something about it. Yes it is a mantra, an unabashed one. And who am I fighting? Well in this battle it’s just Dreamworks. Not for producing a great movie, which TT may well be, but for the sheer cynicism and consequent collateral damage at the heart of some of their marketing of it. My mantra. Thank you very much for commenting.

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