Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why I won't see Tropic Thunder

My 3 year old daughter is beautiful, smart and so incredibly sweet and kind to others. Where ever we go, people come out of their way to visit with her. She shares her smiles with almost everyone she meets. She also has Down Syndrome.

Since the day we received her diagnosis, my husband and I have worried about how society would treat our little girl as she grows up and becomes a young woman. She has had to work so hard in her life to achieve milestones we all take for granted. She is still struggling to meet milestones most three year olds have mastered, but she is persistent, and perseveres, and she is so patient. Since her birth I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people; all of whom have a variety of disabilities. They are all individuals as unique and special as any one else. Seeing adults with disabilities reaching their full potential, living and working and volunteering in their communities has filled us with hope for our daughter's future. We are also encouraged when we hear great stories of acceptance and RESPECT like the one memorialized in the tv spot about Shelley Eyre produced by The Foundation For a Better Life.

But the release of the movie, Tropic Thunder, has been a slap in the face, and what's worse is that the actors, especially Stiller (whom I used to admire, but no longer) don't get it. Maybe you need an education, maybe you are slow. So, I'll keep it simple:
1. You make movies with characters that people emulate.
2. Insensitive, rude, cruel people will continue to perpetuate the awful stereotypes and rude behaviors demonstrated in this poor excuse for entertainment.
3. Instead of promoting acceptance, tolerance, compassion and most importantly RESPECT, the movie encourages cruelty, intolerance, rudeness, and a complete disregard for individuals and their feelings.

As a parent of two young children I try to educate them on the values of our society, including, but not limited to: acceptance, tolerance, and compassion. They are supposed to become productive members of society someday. But how can I compete when a movie like Tropic Thunder comes along? I mean seriously folks, you have some popular actors that children admire and want to emulate. These actors are behaving and talking in ways that are completely unacceptable. Free speech aside, did common sense go out the window when someone pitched this movie? Didn't anyone along the way say, "hey this is wrong. Why don't you go pick on someone your own size?" Or are you all stooping to the level of the school yard bully, and picking on those least able to defend themselves? Is this how you want to be remembered?

Ever since my daughter's birth, I have been told that I am too sensitive. When I have commented to a friend or family member over the use of the R-Word, somehow I'm made to feel like I'm the one who is wrong. I hear, "we wouldn't call your daughter a Re****". But they'll make stupid jokes about how they did something Re****ed, or call each other Re**** when someone makes a mistake or does something stupid. But my daughter, and people like her, are the foundation of the clinical and original definition of the R-word. It comes from the Latin retardare So when you use that word in slang and fun, you are demeaning all the people that word clinically defines. And somehow, this isn't supposed to bother me?????

So, I don't know what the writers, actors and directors were thinking, but I do know what I am thinking. I'm thinking that I will use my daughter as a role model of persistence, perseverance, and patience. I am not too sensitive - the R-word is wrong and mean. I will continue to stand up for her, and all the people who are hurt by the derogatory use of the R-word.

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