Opportunity Alert: Words can hurt
Today the film “Tropic Thunder,” opens. The New York Times reports that the Special Olympics along with various other disability organizations will be boycotting the film due to its derogatory use of the word retard.
I get it. I get satire. I get that the point was to make fun of the lengths that Hollywood will go to win awards, the boundaries of exploitation they do not respect for a statuette and the insane tactics to win roles. I get it. And it is a good point.
And I really want to not be disappointed in Ben Stiller, who I once was willing to convert to Judaism in order to marry. And if you’ve started rolling your eyes already at this post, I’m not an oversensitive or easily offended person. I was on a cheerleading squad (a detail about my life that I don’t let slip often) for five years with girls whose grossness knew no boundaries and defied imagination. If you don’t believe me ask your friendly neighbor cheerleader.
What I think Ben and apparently every other person who made the movie, and many people who don’t have someone with a disability close to them, fail to get is the power of the word retard.
I hate to ever compare anything to the n-word because I don’t think that any other word in the history of words has been filled with as much hate. But if you ever saw my brother’s face when someone called him a retard, you might understand how close the word comes. His little face emblazoned with all of the characteristics of Down syndrome cringe in pain .
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