Monday, August 11, 2008

Tropic Thunder blunders

Have you heard about the controversy surrounding Tropic Thunder, the raunchy comedy debuting this week with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. in the leads? You may have heard that Downey's in blackface, and that the film's sort of intentionally offensive in the way of R-rated comedies these days. But what's been getting less publicity is a subplot involving the frequent use of the word "retard." Stiller can say all he wants that he's making fun of an actor playing a developmentally disabled character, and not people with developmental disabilities, but reports from early screenings indicate that he's not so sensitive to the difference as he thinks.

I've got a long blog post about this on my site this morning, with links to the Disability News blog, which has much more extensive coverage. Sometime today, it's likely that The Arc, Special Olympics, and other disability-rights groups will be announcing protests and boycotts. At the very least, if you have young people with special needs who thought this would be a fun flick to go see, you may want to help them reconsider.

I'm not in the target audience for a movie like this, and I wouldn't have gone regardless. But I had good will toward it because I liked the actors involved. Now, I just want to hit them upside the head. What were they thinking? Or why weren't they?

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