Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tropic Thunder

The new movie Tropic Thunder, has a movie-within-a-movie in which Ben Stiller plays a mentally handicapped man. The movie has set off a firestorm of negative publicity. "It's the PC police" is what seems to be the standard response. No, I am not the PC police. I am just a Mom, trying to raise a child with an Intellectual Disability, in a world that equates "retard" with "stupid, dumb, and moron". My child faces that term often, not directed at her...yet..she is little...but it is everywhere. When the kids in her school go to see this movie, and the word retard is bantered about constantly..will that make it ok for them to use it? Will it negate my efforts at teaching them about tolerance and variability amongst people? If it is not ok for kids to use the word, why is it ok for grownups? What is a laugh worth? and who will pay the price?

Jack Black, host of this year's Nickelodeon Kid's Choice awards, acts in the movie. That is a shame. He has had parts in many children's movies, voicing characters in Ice Age, Shark Tale, Kung Fu Panda. I wonder how many in his audiences were children with developmental disabilities? What a shame.

People Magazine gave the movie 31/2 out of 4 stars.

I sent my letter to the editor, and would encourage you to join me in doing so.

I think you owe an apology to the many people with developmental disabilities who read your magazine and their families, myself included. My daughter has Down syndrome, and the only bad thing we have had to really deal with is the public meanspiritedness of those who would use words like "Retard" as weapons against the most vulnerable.

You have written many stories over the years about people living with Down syndrome: John C. and Max McGinley, Judy and Jerry Horton and their daughter Kelly, Chris Burke, Johnny Stallings, Joe Diffie and his son Tyler, and Christina Mailhot, who said, in an article your magazine wrote about her " "High school was the hardest part of my life, the kids called me a retard constantly. I had one friend."

31/2 out of 4 stars is the rating you gave Tropic Thunder. I wonder what the families of the individuals you wrote about would think of that? I know what *I* think. I think the 14 million you paid to Brangelina should go to a disabilities rights group, to combat the ignorance and cruelty of a world that thinks making fun of our most innocent is somehow funny, and that you could use some internal affairs cleansing that would recognize the beautiful people you write about as more than just feel good stories, but real people. Christina Mailhot said it best, what hurt her the most was being called a retard. Of course, that is hysterically funny, right?
Michelle Harmon
Orrington, Maine


Jaxon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
melody is slurping life said...

Thank you for the email about Tropic Thunder.

I have posted my thoughts and incorporated much of the info you emailed. Please let me know if you are uncomfortable with my borrowing parts of your email, and I can take it down.

Life is crazy here today, and I desperately wanted my post to go up speaking out against this movie.

waldenhouse said...


Wendy said...

Hey Michelle,

It is said that we have to post on such topics that to me is just common decency and knowing what is right and wrong!! I posted about this injustice and inhumane situation but unfortunately I am nowhere near an eloquent writer!! I also tend to ramble on myself but felt I needed to voice my opinion.

PS: on a good note I enjoyed meeting you guys at the conference and wished we would have had more time to spend together....


Anonymous said...

How can you honestly say something like that? A movie is a movie. If you don't like it, don't watch it. The movie dos not send out any message whatsoever that it is okay to make fun of the disabled. It is just making satire. Did you protest "The Golden Compass" for being anti religious? Probably not. Just loosen up, and take the movie for what it really is, a good laugh.


WheresMyAngels said...

OMGosh, Chelle. I had no idea that People gave it a that good of score. I let my husband watch it. I told him as long as he didn't pay for it(told him to pay to see another movie and sneak into it, or download it). I wanted to see if it was as offensive as we have heard. He said the movie was awful, not funny and was offensive.

And how the hell do you attract these losers like the person above. Oh wait, I think I know. TRMR