Saturday, August 26, 2017

Help Me Write A Letter

I went to a movie the other day, one that I had looked forward to seeing. I was enjoying myself and then something happened. One of the characters in the movie, played by an actor I really like and one that I respected as a person, used the R-word. By the time this happened, I was well and truly into the movie and enjoying myself. We had chosen this movie because we wanted an escape from real life. We wanted to just get away, take a mini holiday from everything. The movie had started well and we were packed and on board.

And then.

That word.

That hateful and entirely unnecessary word.

It's a word whose elimination enriches vocabulary rather than restricts speech.

I was pulled out of the movie, my bags went flying around me, and I was back in the real world. The one with bigotry and intentional hurt and social violence and complete disrespect for the people who have intellectual disabilities. That world. 

I'm angry.

A screenwriter, presumably one with both a dictionary and a thesaurus, presumably one who lives in the same world that I do and is aware of the hurt caused by words, who is paid to write to entertain and, maybe occasionally inform, lazily stuck a word into a script that would toss passengers off the train. I am not a highly paid Hollywood screenwriter and I could have come up with a whole pack of words that could of been used and would have elicited laughter like the R-word was intended to, but didn't in the theatre that I was in. 

The actors must have read the script before and did any of them say, "Hey, this word here, not a great word to be using, it will hurt some people in the audience, it will take away from the pleasure of our movie." I don't know if they did or if they had power to change a word in the script, but I'm guessing that they did.

So, I'm sitting in the theatre no longer a part of the movie but simply watching it. Part of my mind is following the story and part is thinking about what I can do. I can leave. I can complain and get my money back. But I've done that before and I don't believe there is any impact at all. I don't believe that anyone knows and that there is any outcome from doing that.

I stayed. I worked to get back into the movie, and I did, my baggage was left in the theatre waiting for the movie to be over, but I did manage to hop back on.

I'm going to write to the actor who said the word. I'm going to ask him to think about it when reading a script. I like this guy. I like the stands he's taken and how he represents himself, I'm going to tell him that.

I wonder if you could help me write this letter. Tell me some of the things you'd like included. What does this experience do to you when you are watching a movie. I often find in my comments here and on Facebook ideas that I wish I had incorporated into my writing, so if you could help me again now, that would be awesome.


clairesmum said...

You have a good way to use words to paint the picture...the "MY Dave" story about being at the pool with Sadie is an example...
some objective information about impact of the R word and that it is a form of hate speech - as clearly that perspective was missing.

Unknown said...

When I read your post all I see are the people I respect having a word again perpetuated. I know this actor in this movie has a list of words he would never utter for fear of the backlash it would cause, yet the R word continues to be spoken without fear of a community objecting. Somehow, someway we need people to know you say the word and we will Rise up as you are doing, I don't know if I could add to your letter but I can add to your voice that says No More

Unknown said...

"The power of one" comes to mind. This was a film that seemed to be engaging and delightful by your description, but by the use of "one" word derailed the entire experience and lasting thoughts about the film. And it would have have just taken "one" person to speak up about removing the r-word and it's hurtful impact on viewers to significantly improve the lasting impression of the film. Ask the actor to be that "one".

wheeliecrone said...

Words come in and go out of fashion. And their meanings sometimes change. The R word is one of those words. Society is moving on and has come to realise that there has never been any need to express fear of and disdain for people who have intellectual disabilities. To use the R word now indicates the ignorance and mean-spiritedness of the speaker.

That is my opinion.

Unknown said...

Sadly, this is an ongoing battle, but one that we must continue fighting. The whole "It's JUST a word!" attitude is one of defensiveness. The more recent referring to people who speak up against these things as "snowflakes" is, again, defensiveness. How hard is it really to simply be kind and to choose your words wisely? How hard is it to think before you speak, and to not use words that you've been told are hurtful, offensive or otherwise unacceptable? These words and attitudes get thrown around all too casually. We should be better than that.

Unknown said...

I am curious to know what the character personality was in the movie and what was the time period. Movies are just that movies, not real.If the character was one that had that kind of personality then that is how it was portrayed. If the movie is in the time period of years ago you are going to hear the r-word, or the n-word. I could get offended every time I go to the movies if I take it personally. Sometimes I cringe at the language or portrayal but I have to take into affect the story, the character and the era.

CJ said...

Too many people don't realize the hurt that word causes. My 40 something niece was posting and laughing with a friend of hers on Facebook and laughed (lol) at his use of the R word. I told her that word should not be used and in it's use it degrades people who have intellectual disabilities. Her mother jumped in and we didn't speak for months. I kept thinking "how could they not see that the use of that word as hurtful rather than funny.?"