Friday, August 15, 2008

Why I went to see Tropic Thunder - Part II

I was all set to write a long post about not giving power to certain words, about letting people with Down syndrome speak for themselves, about how I believe the boycott is further alienating people with intellectual disabilities from others, about how the use of over-the-top parodies can reveal hidden truths. But then the Perry brothers stole my, err, thunder.

While I don't agree with their mostly playful call to "boycott the boycotters," I do agree with their assertions that words only have the power we give them what Ben Stiller intended has been misrepresented. (I edited this because I think that words possess a power beyond what we give them, which I hope to expand on another day.)

I wanted to make up a shirt for Ian to wear on the Buddy Walk that said, "Does this shirt make me look retarded?" but Annie threatened to boycott me. Besides, I'll wait until Ian is old enough to make his own statements.

Next, "Is it OK to laugh at that?"


Tricia said...

I gotta admit. It's all making me think about my OWN belief system. I'd be lying if I said I knew what I truly believed. Ponceman is a particular type of person, strong and seemingly pretty self-aware...I worry about people who may not be as strong or self-aware I guess. But to that end, don't want to deny those who are the right to make their own call on things. If that makes ANY sense at all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping me to see another side to this debate going on.

But I can't help it, I don't like those videos by the Perry brothers. Something just doesn't sit right with me.

But I appreciate you, Tom.

Chris said...

Mmmmm. You have given me so much to think about--just as I'm trying to pack up for vacation.

Regarding the video:

I do think it would be great if the disability community took the "R" word back the way African Americans took back the "N" word. We are not there yet though.

I'm not so sure I agree that "retard" and "retarded" don't mean what it used they mean. I think when people say "Oh, that shirt looks retarded" They have the visual of a group of men with Ds who are on a field trip from the institution.

I think the "R" word has more power than the Perry Brothers would like to admit. I do applaud their attempts to try and take the "R" word back.

Here's a very real example:

Women are aborting babies with Down syndrome at a staggering rate. Why? Something tells me it has a lot to do with the words "mental retardation". When I was told my son had Ds, those were the words that flashed through mine, and soon after that was a very stereotypical picture of what that would mean.

I am learning every day how wrong I was. Nonetheless, hearing the "R" word still hurts because the disability community is not in control of how it is used.

I would also wonder how the Perry brother who has Ds feels when someone in his community uses the "R" word about him.

beans said...

oh, my mother used to slap me when i called my brother retarded. but that's what they were called when i was younger. i hate that i can never keep up with what it is ok to call people. i say we call them . . um PEOPLE!!!

Bleeber said...

Thank you so much. You just proved the fact I have been trying to make to my holier than thou friend about the word retard. It doesn't have anything to do with mental capabilities any longer. That video was amazing. You guys have totally made my day.

BTW: I am totally stealing "Retard Please".

Bleeber said...

LOL. Chris, we meet again. You and Laurie need to get off it and just embrace the fact that words change. When someone says your kid is retarded, just realize that the individual in question is obviously ignorant and does not understand that the times and people have changed and the word no longer means what you think it does.

If I say "Wow this game is retarded" or "That rule is retarded", it is quite obvious that I am not referring to the mental capabilities of that object. Having said that, it is also obvious that the word has indeed changed meanings.

If you want to feel bad for yourself and feel like you consistantly need to bash other people to make you feel better, keep it to your retarded (aka lame) groups.

Anonymous said...