Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Monday, August 11, 2008

If you love my kid, you won't go!

I bet you've seen the trailers for the new movie opening this week "Tropic Thunder", the new Ben Stiller movie. I'll bet you thought the trailers were hilarious. I'll bet you DON'T know what's really in this movie!

Ben Stiller and his team put a lot of thought into this movie, trying to be very careful to not cross the lines on racial humor. They wouldn't want to offend anyone of color or other nationalities in fear of loosing a lot of money in the movie.

But people who are intellectually disabled are fair game in the world of Hollywood. The word "retard" is the whole sub-plot for the movie. The term "Going full retard" has been coined and it's been announced there will soon be a line of t-shirts appearing in your local stores with the term plastered across the front. If you take every time the word "retard" is used in the movie and replace it with the "n" word, or any other racial slur, the movie would be banned in the U.S!

And that, my friends and family, is what Angela has to look forward to when school starts. (Last year it was Napolean Dynamite pens that talked, with one the phrases being "you retard!" which, after complaints, were quickly pulled off the shelves and banned by schools across the country.)

Yes, the movie is rated R, so young kids shouldn't be seeing it. But they will. And their teen siblings and parents who DO see it will be coming home repeating what they think is a funny phrase, and kids will be coming to school with it. They'll love the t-shirts as well.

I don't understand how in the world it's ok to to belittle this population of people, but if they were using the "N" word, or any other racial slur, it would be all over the news! Our countries schools have a zero tolerance policy against racial harassment, and you won't hear certain words thrown around the hallways of your child's school. But you WILL hear "retard" on a regular basis.

I know there are plenty of you who feel I'm overreacting. Well, apparently I'm with the 3 million other families in the country who are FURIOUS this film has been allowed to be produced the way it has. You can expect to see national and local protests about this film, as those of us who are overreacting demand that our children, brothers, sisters, cousins, and loved ones get the same respect that everyone else in the country gets, including illegal immigrants. That they aren't set up for yet MORE harassment by teens who think it's funny to mock our children because Hollywood has encouraged them to do so.

I hear the word by friends and family members all the time. I hear the "short bus" jokes. Most of the time I'll call someone on the carpet about it, but sometimes I won't. Sometimes I just get tired of constantly having to defend my child against the people who are supposed to care. Their lame responses of "I wasn't meaning HER, it was just a joke!" Well, HELLO!!! Who do you MEAN then? Who are you comparing yourself or others to when you toss those words around? And my personal favorite "It just slipped out". Funny...words that aren't part of my every day vocabulary don't "just slip out"!

My child, and millions like her, are intellectually disabled (that's the proper term, by the way..."retarded" is going out the window because it's become such a hateful slang term. School districts aren't even putting it on their paperwork anymore!) Just as people of color don't have a choice of what color skin they were born with, children with intellectual disabilities don't have a choice but to ride "the short bus", and so they become the brunt of your jokes. I've watched people who's own children ride "the short bus" make the same jokes, without even realizing (or caring) that it's at the expense of his/her own children. "Oh, but they think it's funny too!" Do they really? Or are they laughing along while inside they squirm with discomfort?

These people don't have a choice to have the medical term "Mental retardation" plastered all over their medical records. Those with syndromes such as Down Syndrome can't even hide behind a "normal" appearance. It's plastered on their face, leaving them open to hateful ridicule by their peers, and yes, even their family members.

So, if you've seen the trailers, and thought, "That looks like a fun movie to see!" Please don't. My child...your grandchild, your niece, your cousin, your friend.... and those like her, deserve the respect more then Ben Stiller and his team deserve a few bucks!


Kristen said...

Amen Leah!!! Well said. Everyone is always so much better with words than me- I am such an emotional wreck over all of this!!!

Liz Ditz said...

Here's my post, Words Hurt: The "R" Word. It covers more than the Stiller movie. I linked to this post and as many others as I can find.

Christina said...

I am SO glad to have started homeschooling this year. That way a lot of this won't be in my children's faces! Great post Leah

countryjacket said...

Well said! I will NOT be going to this movie. I have posted an entry on my own blog....protesting this film. It is time we stand up for those who can not defend themsevles against such hateful words and actions.

abby said...

Leah, since you said it so well, I copied your post and put it on my blog. Don't worry, you get all the credit.

Tell Angela I said "hi". There may be some fun "kid/dog stuff coming up this winter or summer so I expect to see Angela there again. She's one of my best students.

rud-dog said...

Just reading this board overwhelms me. What I am seeing is astonishing.

Do you not realize what you are doing?

You are making this movie more popular by organizing a boycott. Telling people not to go see this movie will just make more people want to see it.

Its exactly like when Catholics were boycotting "The DaVinci Code".

Now you have given the power to the movie.

Besides, You guys are being wayyyyy oversensitive. I have a brother with Downs and the more you shield them, the more ostracized they feel.

What's the PC term for mental retardation now? Intellectually Disabled? That sounds worse to me.