Disabilities Support Groups to Call for Boycott of Tropic Thunder Over 'Hate Speech'

Citing the frequent use of the word “retard” in reference to Tropic Thunder actor/director/screenwriter Ben Stiller’s character’s character in the war-themed spoof and other problems, the New York Times reported that disabilities support groups such as the National Down Syndrome Congress and the American Association of People With Disabilities are expected to call for a boycott of the movie.

I think the studios have a good point in having supported the movie all along because Stiller’s character is seeking an Academy Award nomination, and almost everybody knows that the Academy only recognizes you with a nomination if you’re a) foreign (see: Helen Mirren, Shohreh Agadashloo), b) play with an accent (see: Meryl Streep, Viggo Mortensen), or c) play with a disability (see: Daniel Day-Lewis, Holly Hunter). Yet, a spokesman for the group also had a good point in that the producers were very, very careful with Robert Downey, Jr.’s character, an Australian who embraces method acting so much that he “becomes” his black character, and to have disregarded the treatment of those with mental disabilities was disrespectful. I mean, I highly doubt that even if it would be correct to the time period, the word “nigger” doesn’t even get a mention in the film-within-a-film which is set during the Vietnam War.

The movie opens on Wednesday.

Posted on August 11, 2008 at 06:46 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: News

7 Responses

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  1. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-08-11 at 10:05
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    …and I highly doubt anyone with the American Associate of People with Disabilities has even seen the movie yet.

    In the film, they’re actually talking about Stiller’s character’s PREVIOUS role as “Simple Jack.” There’s a scene where Downey explains that the reason his role wasn’t more successful was that he went the “full retard,” whereas you only get awards recognition if you go “half retard,” like Rain Man or… I forget the other example I read.

    Anyway, I will be happy when oversensitive people begin to recognize that jokes revolving around politically incorrect speech is not “hate speech,” but IRONY. It’s supposed to be appalling; that’s why it’s funny.

  2. Written by Unmature
    on 2008-08-11 at 11:47
    Permalink

    People are so retarded

  3. Written by immature
    on 2008-08-11 at 21:15
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    “…and I highly doubt anyone with the American Associate of People with Disabilities has even seen the movie yet.”

    I read somewhere they’ve been given the opportunity to view an advanced screening on the 08th of august, but it was changed to the 11th or 13th (same day it opens).

  4. Written by Kelly
    on 2008-08-13 at 22:42
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    “Anyway, I will be happy when oversensitive people begin to recognize that jokes revolving around politically incorrect speech is not “hate speech,” but IRONY. It’s supposed to be appalling; that’s why it’s funny.”

    The thing is, I understand your point. I would even agree with you, if not for the fact that this word is widely used and widely accepted by the larger society, and people need to see that it is a disrespectful and ugly word. This is an opportunity to show people that it is not helpful for the disabled community and does not allow those with disabilities to be seen as actual people. They are simply portrayed as an unfair caricature, and that needs to be stopped.

  5. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on 2008-08-13 at 23:17
    Permalink

    “…people need to see that it is a disrespectful and ugly word.”

    This reminds me of a story I heard on “This American Life” recently. The mother of a Down syndrome child was being given the difficult choice of deciding whether or not her child would continue to receive special education help in school or if she would be labeled as a child with disabilities for the rest of her life. The parents had done several things with the help of the Special Ed teachers to ensure that her girl was doing well and her early grade school aged child actually tested 10 IQ points above what’s considered “retarded” in that state’s curriculum. This made the mother very happy.

    What *didn’t* make the mother very happy was knowing that even though her child was very bright now, having Down syndrome meant that her child would not always be very bright in the future. So the mother had to actually choose to call her child mentally retarded so that she could continue to receive quality education… and she used that exact word in the radio story.

    She used it over and over again, probably mostly for shock value, but I also got the impression that it was a word that she just uses to describe what her own daughter *is*.

  6. Written by Jeff T.
    on 2008-08-14 at 01:35
    Permalink

    What everyone seems to forget when a story like this pops up is that THIS IS HOW PEOPLE ACTUALLY TALK. Very, very few people actually take the time and effort to make everything they say politically correct all of the time. Sure, I can understand how the word “retard” could be offensive, but come on, this is not one of those situations. If Stiller or Downey had had this particular conversation in an interview, outside of the context of the movie, I would most likely agree with the sentiment of the aforementioned groups. The point of the conversation in the movie was to lampoon the industry, and Stiller’s character, NOT the mentally disabled.

    If I were to say this entire topic were retarded, THAT would be offensive, and deserve a boycott. IMO, Tropic Thunder did nothing wrong.

  7. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-08-14 at 10:57
    Permalink

    Someone apparently counted (http://www.emulsioncompulsion.com/2008/08/13/reviews/review-tropic-thunder-ben-stiller-2008):

    The R-word gets used 17 times.

    The N-word gets used once.

    Trish got pwned. ;)

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