Saturday, August 09, 2008

R Rated

An Open Letter to Mr. Stiller,

Dear Mr. Stiller,

You hurt me today. Personally. I am writing to protest your action against me, I am writing to hold you accountable. Not that I imagine you care, but I wish to explain myself to you.

This afternoon I stopped at a local mall to do some shopping, I wanted to pick up a birthday gift or two for a friend. After shopping I went to the food court to have lunch. Food courts are wonderful places. One can dine on Mexican whilst one's partner dines on Thai - they are places of such diversity. Around me were representatives from many nations, colours and creeds. Around me were those with varying faces, varying languages and varying abilities. I sat in my wheelchair, across the way from me was a young mother with a child with Down Syndrome, over there was a college kid dripping big words from the corner of his mouth. We were an ecclectic bunch, we were.

A skinny girl and a chunky boy with long hair arrived alongside a geeky friend. They were clearly in a playful mood, suddenly one said to the other, "There you go, you went full retard." My heart stopped. It was the first time I'd heard the phrase spoken in common parlance. The first time, the phrase you wrote, you created, you crafted, was spoken in my presence. I cannot tell you how much that phrase hurt me. I cannot describe to you the look of pain on the face of the woman who's child sat with her. A child, thankfully, not yet old enough to understand the meanness of that statement. A child simple by age who will grow complex with disability.

You hurt me a second time today, Mr. Stiller. I am writing to tell you, to hold you responsible. I arrived home and saw on a website that it is now possible to buy tee shirts with the phrase 'full retard' on it. You are responsible for this Mr. Stiller, you wrote those words, you chose those words, you went public with those words. It is you, and only you, who must bear the consequences for your actions.

There are parents, Mr. Stiller, who have to send their children into schools in only a few weeks. Hallways have never been welcoming places to those with differences - even so, those hallways are now even more dangerous than they were when they were abandoned for summer play. A new phrase will tickle the fancy of the privileged and scar the selves of the different. 'Full retard,' this is your creation. One you are no doubt proud of.

But I read interviews with you on the web. Interviews that explain that I 'don't get it' that the humour is about shallow, self absorbed actors, not about people with disabilities. Mr. Stiller, I submit to you that your reaction, your denial, in the face of reasonable protest, reasonable requests and reasonable explaination could only be the reaction of a shallow, self absorbed actor. A person that cannot see beyond his need to express to the need of others to be safe. A person that cannot understand protest as anything other than hysterics.

I tried to find a way to contact you, to write you personally, to tell you of the pain I felt today, of the pain I fear tomorrow, and of the concerns of millions of parents, millions of people with intellectual disabilities. I wanted to tell you that you may make a few people laugh for a few hours but you will undoubtably cause many more hours of pain and many more tears to be shed. But as I could find no way to contact you, I resort to this, my blog. I hope that if there are truly only six degrees of separation - that those six between you and I - will get this to you.

Years ago, Mr. Stiller, I met a man with Down Syndrome who was in his late 30's. I met with him because he would no longer leave his house. He abandoned his work (yes, he held a job), he abandoned his friends (yes, he had friends), he abandoned everything he loved and enjoyed in the community. Why? Because he had decided that the world was a cruel place. That he no longer wanted to walk the mean streets. That he never wanted to be called a 'tard again. He had had enough. He would stay in and stay safe.

That was the world before you came into it. It was already bad. But now it is worse. Much worse.

Tropic Thunder will make a lot of money, I'm sure. Box office and momentary popularity is the goal, is it not? It is to shallow, self absorbed actors, so I assume it is to you as well.

Godspeed,

Dave Hingsburger

53 comments:

Glee said...

How would the world react if the movie was using the word "nigger" instead of "retard"?

I know that black people call each other nigger in a friendly bantering way but I am sure they wouldn't like the whiteys using it in a derogatory way.

Still as I said the other day to a friend "disability is the new black" and I didn't mean it in the "little black dress" fashion way.

What I mean is that we are the new severely oppressed and ignored. And the world still doesn't get it! Can we rise above this?

Often I wonder as I tend to retreat to my own home more and more. There is no avoiding discrimination if I go out. There is not 5 minutes go by before I am discriminated against. I try to ignore it but I just can't. Like you Dave my outings are marked by the ignorance or "don't care" of others.

cheers
Glee

Kristen said...

Thank you for writing this! Thank you for standing up for all of us! My son has Down syndrome and I could very well have been that mother in the food court. Of course, I might have just gone up and given a verbal lashing!

Here is the information for the production company and Ben Stiller, as taken from the memo sent out yesterday:

Also if you would like to reach anyone of the people at DreamWorks, Paramount/Vantage or Ben Stiller with your concerns, their names are above and below are the main contacts for them.

DreamWorks
100 Universal City Plaza, Bldg. 5121, Universal City, CA 91608
818-733-7000

Paramount/Vantage
5555 Melrose Ave., Ball/Lasky Bldgs., Los Angeles, CA 90038
323-956-2000

Ben Stiller, Writer/Director/Producer
Read Hour Films, 629 N. La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-602-5000

Gaina said...

Let me qualify the following by saying I have total respect for you in writing that letter because not enough people are willing to stand up for what they believe in these days.

Now here's the bit you might not like, but I hope you'll respect my objectivity.

I have to be honest and say that as a disabled person, a woman and one who appreciates satire, I have a really hard time with the micro-dissection of words these days, as they only have as much power as we allow them.

My view of censorship is that if you don't like something, don't watch it or do it, but please don't try to stop me from watching it or doing it.

If I'm in company and a person uses a word I find offensive, I tell them so and give them the opportunity to apologise and understand why that word may be seen as hurtful or ignorant. If I feel I haven't got through to that person, then I choose to remove myself from their company permanently.

On a personal level everyone has a right to set boundaries based on their own idea of good taste, but when you're getting into the realms of cinema, music and other forms of art that's when it becomes incredibly subjective and sometimes you have to take responsibility for your own reactions by saying 'Yes, that offends me so I am not going to have any part in it'.

Someone is always going to find something offensive and if we all stopped doing things just because they might offend somebody the human race will slide back into primordial soup.

I've just watched a couple of trailers on you tube including the 'full retard' scene and laughed my ass of because it's attacking every single Hollywood stereotype.
From the pretentious 'method actor' who goes through the medical procedure to play the black guy (and in the process picks up a little of the over-sensitivity that some sections of radical activism are prone to) to the Ben Stiller's self-absorbed bimbo who is the type of annoying, crass idiot we've all met who spent one month on crutches with a broken ankle and thinks this has given then some meaningful insight into 'our struggle'. Also did you notice that it challenges people's notions of what being mentally handicapped actually means? It took it away from the one dimensional 'just retarded, therefore not entirely a complex human' ignorace that some people do posses and challenged it in such a subtle way that I bet nobody even noticed it was being done.

If the content of the movie was giving the message that it was ok to attack people with learning difficulties, by actually using the word retard to a person with learning difficulties, that would be an altogether more serious matter.

Sadly I think this movie, like the recent cover of the New Yorker featuring the cartoon with Barak Obama and his Wife is too clever for it's own good.

Tamara said...

Thanks, again Mr. H.

Gaina - I think the problem I have with your perspective is that the target audience for this film - the tween and teen boys who, as someone posted on another site, - are still into fart jokes, will not get the satire. They'll only latch onto the catch phrases and take them to the hallways and locker rooms of the schools and use them to abuse our kids.

You are obviously well able to combat those words when you hear them. Not all of us have that ability. I think we need to seriously consider how many Brent Martin situations this type of film is going to create.

Are a few laughs (that could be created in a less abusive way - think The Ringer) worth someone's life?

I just don't think so.

Lisa said...

I, too, wanted to thank you for writing this! I have forwarded your blog onto many friends in hopes that they will forward it on to get the message out. I also am a mother to a 3 year old girl who has Down syndrome and a caregiver to another 3 year old girl who also has Down syndrome. I feel it is my job to advocate for them in anyway I can and I appreciate all of the hard work you have done in advocating for people like my 2 precious girls! Someday, somewhere, somebody has to GET it!

Thank you!!!!

Lisa - mom to Lily

Rosemary said...

Thank you for writing on this topic, Dave. I cannot express myself as well as you do, but your blog today said what I feel in my heart.
Yours,
Rosemary

FridaWrites said...

Glee, when I've used the race example with people, they don't get it and say it's not comparable. It is comparable.

Sometimes I prefer not to go out too, I get tired of being the "cripple" and "spaz" and "drunk" (I don't drink). My husband and others don't see much of this because people don't do it when he's not around. They will when it's just me and my kids. My daughter sees it and suddenly she's discovering the world is a very cruel place. I've seen tears come into her eyes, and that hurts me more than how people act or what they say.

The problem, Gaina, is that most people don't yet seem to realize that the word "retard" is a slur as they do with other kinds of words, so even if the film tries to be subversive about it, people won't get it. I'm not for censorship, but there's got to be some kind of more direct condemnation in the movie of disablism.

Anonymous said...

http://mediaandmayhem.com/2008/08/09/bravo-dreamworks-what-courage-it-must-taken-to-make-fun-of-retards/

Kristy Colvin said...

Dave
Thank you so much for sharing this. I am going to include your letter on my blog (with your link) and encourage all my readers to do the same. This letter can be shown on everyone's blog and even if Ben Stiller doesn't care, hopefully someone else will and the message will hit home as to why this is wrong!
Thanks
Kristy Colvin
IMDSA President
www.imdsa.org
www.mosaicmoments.today.com

e said...

passing it along to mollys myspace ...

myspace.com/downsyndrome_awareness

we are boycotting, and passing along the word. The only place hollywood seems to be able to hit, is in the boxoffice take, God
knows they won't listen and just do what is RIGHT!

a sad day for the progression of merging my child into the public. One step forward...two steps back...thank you Hollywood.

he sucks anyway...never have watched anything he does!

pthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Gaina said...

I hear you Frida. I am not saying the movie goes about it in the right way considering the average Ben Stiller audience is a 15 year old who can't necessarily grasp the subtleties of satire and the English language, and I would like to think that Mr Stiller would take the criticism constructively and use the experience to make a serious film that shows the trials people with learning difficulties and their loved ones face and how certain crass words compound that.

I should mention that I used to work as a teaching assistant in a school for children with learning difficulties and had anyone used the R word in front of them, I would have handed them their...err 'bottom' on a plate.

Carson's Mom said...

I love your message and how ANYONE could find this garbage funny is beyond my imagination- and would never be a person I respected or want to be around. Obviously yes, they do have the right to make this trash and I will absolutely vote with my dollar and will attempt to influence anyone around to do the same. I live in a world where my son will always have to fight to be accepted- this just makes it a little bit harder. And of course this will result in the nuts out there taking things to an extreme and causing harm. So, while some sit and laugh, we will continue the fight to make sure that our children are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve- and clearly this is not it.

Kayla

kat said...

Beautifully written and very strongly worded. I agree with you 100% It deserves to be sent to the "people" that would unfortunately overlook this...

Ben Stiller, Writer/Director/Producer
Read Hour Films, 629 N. La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-602-5000

Melissa said...

I used to be a HUGE fan of Mr.Stiller. I have MANY of his movies. However, being that I am a mother of a BEAUTIFUL child with Down Syndrome, I have since thrown away all of his movies! I am hurt and discusted!

I personally feel that using the word "nigger" is as equally offensive, I hate that word and just typing it discusted me! This movie is horrible and heartbreaking! What the heck are you teaching children Mr.Stiller???

Mr.Stiller, you have alot to learn & you have no clue!

Shan said...

Well I had no idea what the heck "Tropic Thunder" had to do with disability, and I watched the official trailer and still thought we must not be talking about the same movie, so I youtubed 'full retard tropic thunder' and there it was.

My first thought was, You gotta be freakin' kidding me. I can't believe they put that in a movie.

Then I remembered Shallow Hal. Hollywood can do anything they want to make money, and make money they will because people love to laugh at other people. Laugh at fat people, laugh at girls with eating disorders. Laugh at those who are too smart, laugh at those who are not smart enough. It never freaking ends.

gracie1956 said...

My sweet child, who is mentally challenged, does not have the option of just leaving her classroom when she heres this horrible word. Her only option is to sit quietly and cry.

When she was being beaten up by classmates while being called retard over and over, she didn't have the option of just leaving. All she could do was scream for her Mom until I finally heard her and came to her defence. So don't talk to me about how it is just a word and if a person doesn't like the movie they can leave. What can't be left behind is the permission the movie gives to kids and adults to use hate languague. And believe me they get it. If someone made a movie on how to build an atomic bomb or some other very damaging thing the people who really are into censorship would be coming out of the woodwork. The hurt is real and the long lasting effect are also very real. In spite of everything I have done to have my child be a part of all the good things the world has to offer she is afraid of her peers and refuses to interact with them. Damn, this just makes me so mad and it hurts so much.

Gaina said...

I appreciate that as an intelligent women I find it very easy to deflect insults by using the language on my terms (like black people reclaiming the n-word). And turning the insult on the would-be attacker, but I do understand what it's like to be bullied as a child and feel powerless to remove yourself from that situation....

When I was being bullied (by other disabled children) because - ironically - I was the smartest kid in the class, I used to sit quietly and cry too.

Well, it all changed when I was given a piece of advice - 'Grab the 'ring leader', and give her a shaking she won't forget'.

The next time they started on me I did exactly that - I got right in her face, and screamed 'I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU!!'. And you know, the bullying miraculously stopped. I learned a lesson that day, that while it's always more desirable to be the bigger person and walk away when you can, some people are just plain nasty and there's only one way to deal with them.

Gracie, would your granddaughter be able to attend something like judo lessons to bolster her self-esteem? Nothing diminishes the effect bullies have on you like knowing inside that you can deal with them should you choose to.

Tara said...

i dont think people fully understand that by using the word retard in a way to make fun or insult someone that is not actually mentally disabled they are making fun of or insulting that person by saying that they are like my son, so they may as well be saying 'you're so NATHAN' i mean in my mind thats how i compare it. they are making fun of someone by using my sons disablity as the punch line, how dare they or anyone else that does not see how hurtful and damaging this can be to people.

Sandra said...

Thanks to Kristen for Ben Stiller's address, I sent the following by snail mail enclosed in a greeting card designed by Michael Johnson, the talented artist who has Down syndrome:

Dear Mr. Stiller,

I have been a huge fan of yours since seeing the movie ‘There’s Something About Mary’. The Farrelly Brothers make great films, and they know how to represent people with disabilities. I certainly wish you had just given them a phone call and run your idea past them in the way you were going to portray actors who play parts of people who have disabilities before you filmed this ‘blockbuster’. Tropic Thunder.

I want to tell you two quick stories, if you are still reading…and I hope you are because I am not a letter writer, I actually am despising spending my time doing this instead of watching the Olympics right now.

First story: I advise parents who have a prenatal diagnosis when they are told their baby will be born with Down syndrome. They are being forced to make a life or death decision on weather or not to continue their pregnancy. Most can handle the possible medical issues. Most can handle the extra work it will take to raise a child with Down syndrome. But NONE of them can handle the idea that their child will be ridiculed, made fun of and bullied.

My son, who has Down syndrome is in high school. He is in regular classes, but most all of his friends who also have Down syndrome are in a ‘Special Day Class’…and they ride ‘the little bus’. One of those student’s mothers was visiting at lunch and witnessed a ‘typical’ student throwing his water bottle in front of her son, and commanding him to ‘pick it up’. Her son was upset and she approached they boy who did not know she was the teen’s mother. She asked him ‘What did you just say?” He then said, “I told him to pick it up. That’s what our retards do here at this school, they pick up our trash.”

We have quite a bit of work to do on the image of people with disabilities. We have a lot of work to do with Positive Down Syndrome Awareness. I know you will be busy promoting your new movie, but I certainly hope that there is some way you could create a PSA, or even help fund the ones that the NDSC has already created, but don’t have the funds to broadcast (see www.ndsccenter.org More Alike than Different) to help to combat the negative images your movie will be propagating.

I am praying that my son will be safe at school this year and that he doesn’t have anybody saying to him, “Full Retard”. By the way, it would have been funnier if Chris Burke or another actor with Down syndrome was telling you that you took a part he could have played with the Simple Jack character. Please consult people with Intellectual Disabilities before you include references to them in another movie.

Sincerely,

Sandra McElwee

Ettina said...

This is like banning Huckleberry Finn from schools because it uses the word 'nigger'.
Could you pay attention to the message, rather than just picking at what words they use? I actually think that scene is improved by the word 'retard'.
I remember when you scolded a developmentally disabled blogger for using the word 'retard'. Really, mentally retarded means exactly the same thing as mentally delayed. Retarded means slowed down, delayed. There is nothing inherently wrong with that word.

Ettina said...

And who says it's for tweens? It's got a lot of violence - it's got to be PG at least. Besides, many tweens probably would get it. Lastly, if they don't, why is that the producer's fault? If an autistic kid echolalically repeats 'never go full retard' and offends someone, would that be the producer's fault?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave.

This whole thing has made me so sad. I know my 10 year old son with Down syndrome will come face to face with this lovely new phrase courtesy of "Mr. Ben Stiller" this school year. I only wish Ben could be there to see the hurt it will cause. Maybe he still wouldn't care.

I would like to see all his "big star" buddies (including Tom and Matthew with their disgusting cameos) spend a day volunteering with him at a public school that has an inclusion program for children with special needs. Maybe he could ride the bus with them and then listen in the halls later as kids make fun of others by asking if they arrived on "the short bus". A lot of our kids are more than smart enough to get that insult. Evidently "Mr" Stiller thinks they are too dumb to understand that it is they who are being insulted by the use of these cruel words by thoughtless teens. Those attending public schools (where these words are most often used!) usually are not. I hope you're proud Ben when you hear these words bing used in the halls this school year. Unfortunately, you probably will be.

God forbid you or anyone you love ever have an accident leaving you mentally impaired. You will then find out just how much words can hurt. Some will think "you wont get it". Other are just so cruel they don't care. It hurts most when it is someone you love being hurt by others cruelty. I hope you never find out "Mr. Stiller" what that feels like. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Not even you.

Cathy C said...

YES Ettina it will be Ben Stiller's fault when someone, ANYONE, uses the phrase "never go full retard" and hurts someone. He wrote it. He introduced it. He is promoting it. It is his fault people will be hurt by it. What part of that is hard for you to understand?

gracie1956 said...

This topic makes me sick and I feel inadequate to make the case I would like to make. The point is it isn't just an issue of semantics, it is a human rights issue. All I know is this....there are words so devestating to a person's sense of self that they are just WRONG. They are wrong no matter what the context they are used in. I am not saying these movies should be banned, although I wish they were, but I do think that they should come with this warning: THIS MOVIE CONTAINES HATE SPEECH AND IS HARMFUL TO ANYONE THAT WATCHES IT

jypsy said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzgQ3LVNhps R Word

Attila The Mom said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I'm stunned.

Ettina said...

"YES Ettina it will be Ben Stiller's fault when someone, ANYONE, uses the phrase "never go full retard" and hurts someone. He wrote it. He introduced it. He is promoting it. It is his fault people will be hurt by it. What part of that is hard for you to understand?"

So if someone quoted this scene in one of my stories where a young man says profoundly disabled people are better off dead, and hurts someone's feelings by it, that would be my fault? Even though a star character is one of those profoundly disabled people and is portrayed very respectfully, and this young man's view is being used only to illustrate how bad the society she lives in is? That's unfair. That makes it impossible to say things that need to be said - to say *anything*, really - because virtually anything, and particularly anything really important, can be offensive when quoted out of context.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you so much for posting this.

Liz Ditz said...

It is time to take the "r" word out of circulation.

I've written a blog post, Words Hurt: The "r" Word, on Wanda and Rick Felty's campaign to "Ban the R Word", and Jenna Glatzer's pledge campaign, as well as the "Tropic Thunder" controversy. I've included a link to your blog.

Anonymous said...

If you would like to reach anyone of the people at DreamWorks, Paramount/Vantage or Ben Stiller with your concerns, their names are above and below are the main contacts for them:

DreamWorks
100 Universal City Plaza, Bldg. 5121, Universal City, CA 91608
818-733-7000

Paramount/Vantage
5555 Melrose Ave., Ball/Lasky Bldgs., Los Angeles, CA 90038
323-956-2000

Ben Stiller, Writer/Director/Producer
Read Hour Films, 629 N. La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-602-5000

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Great letter that I will try to pass on to Ben Stiller as well!

But please examine your own used of words - you described people as "skinny", "chunky" and "geeky" - don't you see how those words can hurt just as much to some as "retard" does to you?

Sincerely,
Cheryl

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, I think that WAS her point -- people who throw stones even though they live in glass houses -- that they would be hurt themselves if the shoe were on the other foot and they were being called these (accurate) words

melody is slurping life said...

And this was from movie promos and trailers alone...just imagine after the movie opens in all theaters...

Thank you for posting. It does make a difference.

Anonymous said...

XFD. Butt hurt neckbeard.

Anonymous said...

This is just silly. People like you are only looking on the surface of things, looking to be offended. People like you are why we can't move past such discriminations.

Anonymous said...

I think reclaiming the term is the most constructive way to deal with the situation. Activist gay politics allowed the homosexual community to reclaim "queer" and challenge heteronormativity.

Those within the learning disabled community need to take the same approach. Writing letters to Ben Stiller for his use of language is a passive and weak approach. Deconstructing the assumptive notions of "retardation" as something non-normal and therefore negative generates new ways of thinking about language. Attacking the language itself will do nothing; attacking the representations of the language is the best alternative.

But this is just a repackaged version of gaina's suggestion-- these politics are judo for the mind.

Ben said...

You know what really grinds my gears? When people use the word 'retarded' to describe something that they just don't like, when there are many better words available in the English language. I personally never use the word in that way.

You know what else really grinds my gears, though? When people try to get a word censored. Censorship really grinds my gears, even moreso than stupidity.

Reality said...

go baww somewhere else you butthurt neckbeard

Anonymous said...

How about this:

You're a fucking cunt. Grow some fucking balls you spineless faggot. You're out of touch. Someone makes a joke that mocks the handicapped and you write him a fucking letter holding him responsible? He doesn't give a fuck. And he rightfully shouldn't. You're the reason there are school-shootings. Pussy fucks like you raising your children to be passive snot-nosed shitlickers that will eventually snap and then pull a gun on their classmates because losers like you never taught them that sometimes they just have to ignore stupid people.

Fuck you, and fuck everything you stand for.

Anonymous said...

*sigh*

People, people please. You're all throwing hissy fits because people use the word "retard" like its something sacred that can only be used to describe the people with mental disabilities. Which is wrong, because it is a word, sounds which come out of our mouths which can't be copyrighted, protected, anything like that, same with the word nigger.

I hate to break the news to you, but if you have Downs Syndrome, then you are RETARDED. So I dont understand why one should take so much offense to other people using the word. If you're retarded, you're retarded. So what? Why should it hurt your feelings if someone else is using the word retard to banter and joke with yet another person? It'd be the same as if I got offended if someone used the word "whitey" or something. It's just a word. I know I'm white, why can't you tell that you are retarded?

Anonymous said...

This article blows dick, stop crying you faggot

Anonymous said...

this article HAS to be a joke

Anonymous said...

Since you signed my petition, I will share my "Mr. Stiller" letter with you.


Dear Mr. Stiller,

I haven't slept in 5 nights, and it is your fault. Here I sit, at 1:08 in the morning. I was in bed, but my mind has been racing, and I needed to come and write you a letter. You see, 5 days ago, I learned about your new movie. I also learned about one particular scene in that movie. And that is why I am awake. I need to get some things off of my chest.

A little background. In November of 2002, my husband and I welcomed our third child into this world. The morning after he was born, we learned that he had Down syndrome. Our lives were turned upside-down. We were thrust into a new world, which was scary and full of the unknowns.

Our new son had several challenges in his first few years of life. We had a few ambulance rides to the hospital. We had to learn all knew medical terminology because our son needed a cardiologist, an ENT, and an orthopedic surgeon, to name a few. He needed to have an occupational therapist, a physical therapist and a speech therapist (still does). He needs glasses, he has ankle braces. He has had 5 surgeries to put tubes in his ears. He had his tonsils and adenoids out. He's had swallow studies and sleep studies. He's had EKG's. He's been through a lot, and he's only 5.

We've met a lot of families like ours along the way. Some have children who have been very sick, and almost died. Some have had children who have been very sick and have died. Some of these kids have gone through more in their short lives than most adults ever will. They're fighters. Their parents are fighters.

It is my job to protect my son, to love and nurture him. I keep him safe while he's in our home. I can monitor what he sees, and what he hears. Nobody here will make fun of him. No one will call him names. He will never feel like less of a person when he is home. He has brought us all such joy, we cannot imagine not having him in our lives. He is very smart, and has the best sense of humor. He really loves everyone, and they love him in return.

Now, here is where you come in.

You felt the need to put a character in your new movie. A "special" character, mocking people with disabilities. You also felt the need to push the envelope a bit further. You threw the "r" word in there, too. And not just once. Many, many times. And you think that it's o.k. "in context" and it's really making fun of actors in Hollywood. Well, when people leave the movie, I'm willing to bet that quite a few are going to take your new tag line out of context and will be using it quite frequently. I have already seen the shirts on EBay, and the movie just opened today. Now, how am I supposed to protect my son from that? And, you say its rated R, so younger children and teens won't see it. You and I both know that these kids are going to watch the movie, in the theatres, on DVD, on Pay-per-view and are going to come away thinking it's funny to use the word "retard". They're going to see the "Never go full retard" t-shirts. You did this.

My son is going out there in the real world next month; he's starting kindergarten in public school. Our schools have a "No bullying" policy, and our superintendent has already been sent a letter warning him about the t-shirts, and they will not be acceptable. So, my question to you is, how do I get them off of the streets? How do we get the kids not to call their friends "retards"? Why did you feel the need to make my son the punch line of your joke?

Now is your opportunity to be a bigger man. Step up and apologize to the four million Americans with disabilities. Admit that you made a mistake; you THOUGHT that it would be o.k. in context. You didn't think ahead. You were wrong. Take some of your "Tropic Thunder" profits and start a Words Hurt campaign. Vow never to use the word again. Have your celebrity pals do the same. Maybe you'd gain back some respect. My husband and I have seen every movie you've been in; you've always been a favorite of ours. Our 10 and 8 year-olds loved Jack Black. We've all been crushed to learn how uncaring you both truly are.

I started an online petition 3 days ago, requesting the ban on the "r" word and "Tropic Thunder". I have close to 2,300 signatures already. You should really take the time to read some of the comments posted by the families. They'll break your heart (if you have one). http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopTropicThunder/

Well, I could go on and on, but I won't. I am going to attempt to clear my head and climb into bed. I can rest a bit easier knowing that I am fighting for my son. I won't give up. He deserves to be respected. He deserves to be treated with dignity.

Hopefully the next time I see you on "Nightline", you won't be patting yourself on the back, you'll be issuing an apology.


Mom to Garrett and 3 other wonderful, caring, compassionate children who will NEVER use the "R" word.

Ben said...

"Vow never to use the word again. Have your celebrity pals do the same."

"started an online petition 3 days ago, requesting the ban on the "r" word and "Tropic Thunder"."

Fuck censorship and fuck anybody who thinks censorship is ever, EVER acceptable.

I used to think the parents of mentally retarded youngsters were good people. Sure, all of them seemed to be a little bit "off," but their hearts were always in the right place. Now I see how wrong I was. You people won't be happy until the whole world revolves around the spawn of your fucking poisoned wombs and seed.

The funniest part is, if this comment gets deleted, it will only prove my whole point.

Pat Faulk said...

Ben,
Look at that! no one deleted your big bad comment...but I should warn you...no one is listening to it either.
:) have a nice life!

Anonymous said...

I didn't even realize this line was in the movie until the lot of you said something. So therefore, you are in fact helping him promote it. I will not proceed to go see the movie just because I want to see what the hullabaloo is about. Thank you for opening my eyes to this serious issue.

Anonymous said...

I mean, I will now proceed to see the film because of this article.XD

Kate said...

Ben:.... you are a discusting foul human being. Besides that.. you are also wildly mis-informed and obviously under educated. Please attemt to actually learn atleast a bare minimum before you speak about somthing that you obviously are quite ignorant about!.

Gaina said...

Wow, so many brave people with such definite opinions....yet strangely too weak to put a name to your thoughts? I guess this is what happens when it rains during the school holidays ;-).

I do however like what this person had to say:

'But this is just a repackaged version of gaina's suggestion-- these politics are judo for the mind'.

Judo for the mind, what an interesting idea. You can come read my blog any time. Hehe

Interestingly enough, the TT Myspace profile has every clip up but the 'offending'. One....of course I had to ask the question 'if you thought this was so witty, why isn't the trailer on your profile?'. I'm still awaiting a reply :D.

Anonymous said...

Because our names will matter? Want our addresses too so you can personally write angry letters? Names really matter that much to the faceless masses of the internet?

Anonymous said...

From BarbaraLK

Thank you for this letter. It hits the nail on the head

To Gaina,

As a person with a disability, you need to learn that person first language (person with a disability as opposed to "disabled person") has been the politically correct terminology in our community (I too am an individual with a disability) since we fought for it as part of the battle to pass the ADA. You also need to know that the term "handicapped" is considered an offensive word NOT used by individuals with disabilities because it comes from the term "cap in hand" when individuals with disabilities begged in the streets with their "cap in hand."
As a person with a disability, maybe you just need to learn more about your own culture and you will understand why words matter and why this film is so offensive. Intent is not the issue. The outcome is the problem. This film will cause more bullying and it hurts people

Anonymous said...

This comment is mostly for BEN and a couple of people who have been to afraid to sign their post:

While I completely agree that the movie and its producers may not have intended for their words to be taken out of context. I can also see that you and I are able to look at the movie and the words and make educated conclusions in regards to the level that they do or do not hurt us. However my 3 year old cannot come to those same conculsions.

He has a moderate speech disorder and is well above the growth charts (looks about 5) he experiences being shut out from kids his age at the playground, tee ball teams, on the soccer field and at parties because it is harder to understand him than it is others. The r word has been repeated several times. I have had adults ignore his repeated attempts to communicate and ask "how old is he?" with a look on their face that I am sure many parents here could relate to. He does take note of these slights in his everyday life and sometimes it is very hard for him, you can see how it impacts his attitude.

We as parents in this culture do have to teach our children to deal with mean and some times hateful people, but that alone is enough without it being added to by hollywood. The point I'm trying to make here is that although I may choose to not use or give power to the r word I cannot make that choice for MY CHILD or anybody elses. I cannot dictate to YOU how to feel about this word and YOU cannot take away the hurt it causes other in overhearing it or using it directly. I also cannot keep that word from CRUSHING my son as he attempts to make friends. And that is truly what the whole debate is all about, how the word IMPACTS those who it is used against. Bottom line is the word is not funny and as a parent I have fought the school district for the right services for my child, worked with doctors to determine the proper diagnoses and I will continue to do what is right for my child. But I do not (nor does my child) need this type of entertainment that will be misunderstood by 1000s upon 1000s of people, making our lives that much harder.

Hopefully BEN you live on a dead end street with these other anonymous folks and the only impact you will have on this whole debate (and the world) are these posts.

And Gaina I hope that I will be able to instill in my son some of the same characteristics I see in your posts and that he will develop the self confidence to deal with mean and hateful people.

I do not have a goggle/blogger account but I am available at i_need_mtdew@yahoo.com and I am not afraid to stand by my child.
Shelley

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Dave. It offends me how people can be so cruel against the disabled. I have no plans on seeing this movie.