Let’s all lighten up a little bit……

12 Aug

I was flipping around the almighty interweb yesterday and found this article about the new movie “Tropic Thunder”:

“Advocates for disabled to protest “Tropic Thunder”

For those of you who don’t like to read, the article says that 22 disability groups nationwide have come together and are calling for a national boycott of this movie, and are going to picket the movie’s premier (I think that was supposed to happen yesterday… I have no concept of time anymore, so I don’t know if this has gone down or not). From what I gathered from the article, the reasons for all the uproar is the use of the word “retard” in the movie.

First of all, I’d like to preface what I’m about to state by saying that I’m not an insensitive person. I have little tolerance for hate-speak and derogatory terms. I’ve been in numerous fist fights over people using racial or homophobic slurs around me. I also have a special needs child, so callous and hurtful mocking of people with special needs doesn’t sit will with me either.

BUT all this over the use of the word “retard”? An uproar of this magnitude over this? This past week I’ve been watching “The Sopranos” box sets while I’ve been painting (I need the illusion of human contact when I isolate myself during painting frenzies), and they’ve used the word “retard” probably 30 times, and that was only in the first couple seasons… and noone said word 1 about it. Why now? And why such a massive protest?

The advocacy groups have requested things from apologies, to changing the film, to producing and funding a national educational campaign… all because of the word “retard”. No, this is not a nice word. No, I’m not saying that it’s ok to use not-nice words. But it’s a comedy portraying over-the-top characters in over-the-top circumstances…there is not a realistic thing about this movie. And whether or not any of us agree on if that word (or any other derogatory term) should be used in major motion films- they have every right to use it without apology. Censorship is censorship- for good or for bad.

What rubbed me the wrong way about all of this is the fact that with EVERYTHING else going on in the world, the use of the word “retard” in a movie just isn’t a big fucking deal. I have a kid with a high functioning form of autism, and because he has special behavioral classes that he goes to everyday in school he’s been called “retard” by some of the other kids. And when he tells me that this happens, I hug him, tell him that everyone who matters knows how brilliant he is, and that if that’s the worst thing he’s called by jerks at school he should consider himself lucky… and then I tell him to toughen up. Life is hard. We are all called names. That’s just a part of existing. And its the very least of our troubles.

We’ve got wars, and massive amounts of poverty, and homelessness, and hunger, and rape, and violence, and atrocious acts against children, and a quickly declining economy, and swelling environmental issues that are quickly showing the end to our population as a whole, and on and on and on. And people actually think that using the word “retard” in a over-the-top satire comedy is something to rally against? With EVERYTHING going on in the world, THIS is the issue that they choose to address? Really?

In 3 years, this movie will be totally forgotten. And if they hadn’t made such a fuss over this, the use of that word wouldn’t have even been noticed. Especially since the movie is rated R, and the majority of the people seeing it will be adults who know the difference between appropriate and non-appropriate language (and if little kids are seeing rated R movies, then that’s the parent’s fault… not the movie’s). Let’s all lighten up just a bit and put this into perspective. A Ben Stiller movie REALLY doesn’t deserve this kind squaking.

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13 Responses to “Let’s all lighten up a little bit……”

  1. whitney August 12, 2008 at 7:10 pm #

    that’s insanity…
    i work with re-re’s and we (the aides) still use the word retard. but not to our students! just if we’re talking about a certain situation… we’d stay “oh, that’s retarded” or whatev.

    and apparently, these “disability groups” haven’t seen many movies in this day and age if they’re finally noticing that some people use the word “retard” in their movies…. it’s strange that they are picking on this movie all of sudeden… what about those other movies where someone’s “acting” like a “retard” for people’s amusement? is THAT not offensive?
    i find that more offensive than the actual word…..

    how retarded.

  2. germinfested August 12, 2008 at 10:43 pm #

    Aw, the saddest part I think is the stuff with Sully. I went to school with a kid who had autism, probably teased his whole life, but come 6th grade, with all of the baggage under control, he was the smartest one in the class. And I’m sure with you as his momma, he’ll soon have nothing to worry about.

    That’s lame. It’s a fucking movie. MUCH worse things have come from movies. I’m nearly positive it’s not the only one where the words been said, as you stated before: Why now? I think they’ve run out of things to bitch about and have found a new vice.

  3. Kristen Ferrell August 13, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    It does break my heart when Sully gets picked on. And it’s REALLY frustrating for him because he KNOWS just how smart he is (and he’s so smart that it scares me sometimes). And like the kid you went to school with, it’s his behavior and baggage that makes the special behavioral therapy classes necessary. But all kids get picked on, and that’s what I tell him. It’s just part of being a kid, and it helps us toughen up so that in the future we can just brush off insults and not let them affect us. And when he’s older, he’ll blow those other kids outta the water.

    Whitney… i can’t help but laugh so hard every time you use the phrase “re-re”. Movies are there to entertain us- not to be taken seriously or to be examples of how to act in real life. If it’s a comedy- take it as a comedy!!! Maybe this doesn’t really hold water coming from me since my favorite scene ever from a movie is in “Happiness” where the dad is having a heart-to-heart with his son about being caught molesting his little friends (I laughed myself to tears). I tend to find the most inappropriate things hilarious. But it’s BECAUSE it’s a movie that I can laugh about it… it’s not real, so no harm/no foul. Right?

  4. whitney August 13, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    HAH! james and i were just having a discussion yesterday about how Happiness is hilarious. (oh, if you havent yet, you should see the movie “mysterious skin”… it’s probably waaaayy more fucked up than Happiness. i mean there’s really nothing to laugh about in that one, so you may not like it. heh.)
    but yes, some people do take movies way too seriously… kinda like my mom, only she takes CARTOONS way too seriously. for example she hates the simpsons cause the dad’s an idiot, yet she LOVES family guy where the dad in that show is about 10x more stupid than homer is. i dunno. she’s strange…

    and referring to my job… i’ve been called a “tard farmer”.

  5. HarleeQ August 13, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    The protesters are just promoting the film. Thats what happens when you try to control things, opposite of what you want. Who knows the movie could be crap, but now people we see it regardless.

    Man i miss the Sopranos…

  6. Kristen Ferrell August 13, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    You’re right…. the more controversy surrounding something, the better it sells. I don’t know if anyone remembers the “Piss Christ” photograph by Andres Serrano (the photo of the little plastic crucifix submerged in a glass container of the artist’s urine… it’s actually a BEAUTIFUL photograph). It was 1989 or 1990… but because of how the photo was created, it stirred up MASSIVE controversy, outraged the church and was publicly shunned by many political leaders. And because of this, it was one of the most heavily viewed pieces of contemporary art to date. If no one raised a fuss, it probably would have been long forgotten.

  7. Tawni August 15, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    I agree with you 100% my very brilliant, common sense-laden friend. My hubby and I had quite nearly the exact conversation as what you have written above over dinner last night, when he told me about the stink over this movie using the word “retard.” Puh-lease.

    It is comedy, and a freaking movie, not intended as reality or a morality lesson. DUH. Jumping jesus on a pogo stick, I wish everybody would just lighten the fuck up. We have such larger issues sitting on our world platter right now.

    P.S. Whitney’s use of “re-re” has me giggling uncontrollably. 🙂

  8. Sunny August 15, 2008 at 6:53 pm #

    Ok, all I have to say is Happiness was the most fucked up movie I’ve ever seen in my life and I just couldn’t find it funny, at. all.

    But I hated Welcome To The Dollhouse too… Diff’rent Strokes, right? Pun intended.

  9. Kristen Ferrell August 16, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    Alot of people didn’t like the movie Happiness… so it’s totally ok. I don’t judge 🙂
    But I did really like Welcome to the Dollhouse. But I think it was just because I was a nerdy awkward naive little kid, so I could totally relate.

  10. whitney August 17, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    special people club!

  11. Kristen Ferrell August 17, 2008 at 8:16 pm #

    I would TOTALLY have been a member of the “special people club”.
    Brad was laughing at me today because in 3rd grade, I was a member of the Lionel Richie fan club, and in 5th grade I was obsessed with Bruce Willis because of the show “Moonlighting” (he was dying because I actually owned the album that Bruce Willis put out). While all my friends were in love with Corey Feldman and Jon Bon Jovi, I was in love with a balding guy in his mid 30’s who’s character was a bumbling drunk.
    And I had crimped hair and tied shoelaces in it. And I had braces. And I wore a telephone cord for a belt. Should I go on?…..

  12. meowshell August 18, 2008 at 8:30 am #

    did that telephone cord belt actually work?

  13. Kristen Ferrell August 19, 2008 at 8:06 am #

    as a belt it worked great. as a phone cord, it didn’t. but it was bright orange, and that was all i cared about.

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