In an attempt to get laughs, Ben Stiller has decided that nothing is funnier than making fun of those most likely not to be able to stand up for themselves. He calls them retards. Yes, Afro-Americans, homosexuals and others are also mocked too, but not to the extent that the intellectually disabled are. I guess it is just more fun, or easier, to insult those with a cognitive disability.
I'll admit, I like the stars of this movie. I usually find Ben Stiller and Jack Black very funny. Even before I had John though, I never thought retard jokes were funny. How can you find humor in making fun of those who are the most vulnerable? How can you make fun of people who have to work harder to do those things the rest of us take for granted?
I wrote a whole post about how words like "retard" and "retarded" are so hurtful for me to hear as John's mom. In this post, I lamented in full detail about how cruel this world seems to be for people like my son. How the "R" words are just hateful and mean and degrading to a whole group of individuals who through no fault of their own were born with a cognitive disability. I wrote about how sad I am that these words are used so easily today. How they just reinforce the stereotype so many with an intellectual disability are proving wrong every day.
I am not going to publish that full post--those of you who have a child with a disability already know how I feel. You see the prejudice; you have felt the pain.
I've heard the justifications. I get that often the "R" words are used without thought or malice, that people aren't talking about specifically about John when they are using these words. That is the problem. People don't think. These words have become so commonplace, that people seem to just accept the fact that a clinical term used to describe those with a cognitive disability has become an insult. People don't think about the damage these words can do or maybe they just don't care because their lives haven't been touched by someone with a disability.
Evidently, Hollywood producers, like Dreamworks, don't think or care about the damage movies can do either. Thankfully, advocates like Patricia Bauer are keeping a watchful eye out and are not afraid to call for change.
Dreamworks has already been held accountable, and has pulled some of the promotional materials that were particularly damaging, but they will not be making any revisions to the film. They may wish they reconsidered that decision. This week a coalition of advocacy groups are planning a national boycott of this movie. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
My one hope is that maybe some good will come out of this. Maybe, just maybe, the publicity over this movie and the possible boycott, will make people stop and think a little.
I can only hope that people will care enough to try and change the way they speak. That maybe others will think that words like retarded and retard should be not be said just as the word ni*g#r should not be said. It demeans us a society to use our language to degrade our fellow citizens.
I can hope, but I fear nothing will change.
I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again, there's a lot of people that are emotionally retarded out there.
Thankfully, my little John doesn't appear to be one of them.