Monday, August 18, 2008

Final thoughts on Tropic Thunder

I started off addressing each of the comments on my previous posts concerning Tropic Thunder. It started to feel a little tit for tat, so I chucked the idea.

Tropic Thunder was number one at the box office this weekend, and that's a shame. Not because of the controversy, but because it just wasn't that good of a movie. I also went to see Woody Allen's latest film, Vicky Christina Barcelona, a much better - if flawed - film. I left the theater thinking about how much work it takes to keep a marriage vibrant and full of life, about art, about travel, about the difference between love and being in love, about how easy it is to make a mess of our lives. It also inspired me to take Silvi swimming in the evening, then out for fish tacos and ice cream as the sun set. If a film can move me emotionally and also cause me to take a step - do something - once the lights come up, then I count that movie worth the price of admission.

Tropic Thunder has had that effect on a lot of people. Moving many to action. It caused me to work hard to frame my thoughts, read differing opinions, research philosophical articles that might give words to my emotions and then write about it. My view is definitely in the minority. And I'll be the first to admit that I might be wrong. Despite all the anger and differing opinions surrounding this film, I'm still glad the film was made. It was a discussion that needed to happen in the public arena.

Will this debate help make life better for people like my son? I don't know. Maybe. But I think there will be - have been - a lot of "casualties" along the way. Friendships have been strained, battle lines drawn and people have chosen one "camp" over another. "You're either with us or against us," seems to capture much of the prevailing thought.

But I have hope that good will come out of all of this. A friend emailed me and asked, "Why does our society give disabled people so much support, yet actively aborts 90% of our children (with Down syndrome)?" The world is much kinder to children like my son than at any other time in history. If they are allowed to be born. So how do I actively make it known to the world that my son has every right to exist, that without him there would be a loud silence more deafening than any protest?

I named my blog "Narrow Ridge" after a quote by one of my favorite philosophers, Martin Buber, who talks about walking the narrow ridge between certainty and uncertainty, between knowing and not knowing, between you and between me. At the heart of his philosophy is the desire for dialogue.

How do we stand up for what is right without completely tearing down others in the process? (And satire walks this fine line.) How do we "win" the argument without losing the person? How do we advocate for our kids without letting anger rule the day?

I'm just starting out on this journey with Ian. I hope you'll keep following this adventure as he and I stumble along that narrow ridge.


Elbog said...

When I think of "Narrow Ridge", one of the first things I always think of is 'balance'. Keeping an even keel. Your blog has been that for me, these last couple of weeks. Muchos Gracias. Fish Tacos and ice cream with Silvi was as important as all of the rest of that. I consider it a privelege to share this journey with you. It never would have happened, but for Ian and Emma.

rickismom said...

Well I would hope that people would not lose friends over this! Friendships are too precious to lose
especially since our friends who would want to see the movie, are, I think one can safely assume, not the ones who will be wearing "Total retard" t-shirts.....

Jeanette said...

I aplaud your indepth thoughts on this subject. It caused some heavy discussions in our household. My husband and I did not fully agree on the subject (which is reflected a little in our blog). I am not a fan of conflict, but am an advocate of awareness. This whole thing is a great opportunity for awareness, which is what I hope the end result will be.

Tom said...

Jeff: Thanks, it really means a lot..

Richismom: Yeah, I haven't lost any friends, just maybe some readers :) I just read on some forums that people have lost friends.

Jeanette: I'm glad it stimulated some discussion and hope things are well now :)

Kim Ayres said...

I always figured "Narrow Ridge" meant on a knife's edge :)

waldenhouse said...


Tammy and Parker said...

Tom, how can we learn and grow if we don't read other's ideas and try to see where they are coming from?

You give such a fair and honest viewpoint, how could anyone take issue with that.

You make me want to be a smarter and more informed advocate.

GML4 said...

Just finding your blog, and am glad to find some similar thoughts to mine on the Tropic Thunder boycott.

You have some great discussion here, and I will continue to follow along. You may find this recently released film interesting....

Chris said...

Tom, thank you for the time you took to give this topic the examination it deserves.

I do hope that this film does not divide the Ds community. I do believe we all want the same thing. A kinder, more accepting world for our children--all of our children--regardless of how many chromosomes they have.

I agree that we should not stand in the way of satire just because their is a chance someone may not understand the satire. Rather than do away with the satire, we should try to do away with the ignorance, the misunderstanding.

We do need laughter. We just need to hope that our laughter is not at the expense of others.

It is a fine line...or as you so eloquently put it....a Narrow Ridge.

Hope you are enjoying your vacation!

movie junkie said...

Ben Stiller would interpret the offenses of any special interest group as a compliment

Chris said...

Tom, I just came across this review of Tropic Thunder.
Thought you might appreciate it as it alludes to that thin line between smart and dumb, simple and complex etc.,0,522909.story

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