August 11, 2008
Such is the tag line to a new, big budget, R-rated summer movie opening this week. “Tropic Thunder” is a comedy produced by DreamWorks/Paramount, and directed and written by Ben Stiller, who also stars in the movie.
The plot includes a group of pampered actors, lost in the jungle while making a war movie. Tugg Speedman, Ben Stiller’s character, is a fading action hero who missed his Oscar opportunity with his portrayal of Simple, a character with an intellectual disability. Speedman’s portrayal of Simple is a movie within the movie, “Simple Jack.”
Already “Tropic Thunder” has presented audiences with a new go to phrase, “Never Go Full Retard.”
And for much less than the cost of a session with one of my son’s therapists, you can purchase a t-shirt declaring to the world that you are a Full Retard.
The term ‘retard’ is nothing short of hate speech. The word piles insult and even possible harm on a group of people who already find it hard, if not impossible, to integrate into a society that values perfection above all else.
Of course DreamWorks and Stiller are trying to deflect the idea that “Tropic Thunder” is anything more than a comic satire intended to put down actors, not persons with disabilities.
There will be those who will be entertained for an hour or so with “Tropic Thunder”. There will be those that find wearing a t-shirt shouting the words “Full Retard” hysterical. Like Stiller, they will express their disbelief at how the word retard could offend anyone.
Each person who makes the choice to go and see “Tropic Thunder” helps promote the idea that hurting others for the sake of a laugh is okay. I humbly submit that the world is cruel enough. The damage caused by “Tropic Thunder” will last much longer than the movie’s 90 minute viewing time.
The use of the word ‘retard’ is setting how society views those with intellectual disabilities back a generation. Recently the announcement of a new early method of pre-natal testing for fetal Down syndrome was made. This announcement was made with great fanfare and excitement. Because the earlier parents know their child may be born with an intellectual disability, the earlier and easier it becomes to terminate that pregnancy. I believe the connotations that go along with the word ‘retard’ play no small part in this kind of thinking.
At the very least, ‘Tropic Thunder’ will make it much easier to cross the line of verbal abuse so often expressed toward individuals with intellectual disabilities
Unfortunately the only way to get this message across to Mr. Stiller and friends is to wake them up where it matters most……their egos and pocketbooks. Refusing to see this movie will address both of those issues.
I hope you will be willing to stand up for kids like my son, Parker, and for all of the others who live life with an intellectual disability.
My son spends enough time fighting for his life. He shouldn’t have to fight for acceptance in this world as well.
Together we can make a difference.
Please refuse to see this movie and ask your family and friends to also boycott this film.
To learn more and discover how you can make a difference, please visit these links:
Addresses to write to:
100 Universal City Plaza, Bldg. 5121, Universal City, CA 91608
5555 Melrose Ave., Ball/Lasky Bldgs., Los Angeles, CA 90038
Ben Stiller, Writer/Director/Producer
Read Hour Films, 629 N. La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036