Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Tropic Thunder boycott

Here's the email from the Down Syndrome of MN executive director:
By now you may be aware that Tropic Thunder, a film which depicts people with developmental disabilities in a derogatory and disrespectful manner, will open in our area tomorrow evening.

Despite aggressive attempts to get Dreamworks-Paramount to modify the offensive content, the film with its offensive and hurtful stereotypes about people with disabilities has debuted intact. The Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, therefore, joins the National Down Syndrome Congress, National Down Syndrome Society, Special Olympics and Arc of the United States and other disability organizations in calling for a boycott. One of the best ways to send a message to Hollywood is to cut into their ticket sales.

Considering what we ask, we must be completely honest. While trusted members of our community were allowed to preview the complete film, all that is available generally is a promotional trailer. That brief glimpse leaves a nasty taste, but to be fair is not the full movie.

We have elected to trust our colleagues who have seen the full film. You can read the reaction of one, journalist Patricia Bauer, on her blog at Based on what Patricia says and the reports of other leaders in both the Down syndrome and larger disabilities community, we reiterate our call for a boycott of TropicThunder.

Special Olympics USA has taken a bold lead on this issue calling for the elimination of the term "retard” ­ or the R-word as they put it ­from popular language. Language is a powerful tool. Individuals with developmental disabilities are not "retards"; they are our sons, daughters, friends, employees, neighbors, classmates; people deserving respect.

It is quite easy to avoid the film, however, if you agree we need to make a loud and clear statement ­ about Tropic Thunder and the larger issue of disrespectful, prejudicial language ­we urge you to both join the boycott and spread the word among your friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Finally, I would direct your attention to a short video produced by Will Schermerhorn of [Blueberry Shoes Productions]. This very short video was put together for the Arc of Northern Virginia. It is a beautiful counterpoint to “Tropic Thunder”.

Kathleen Forney
Executive Director
Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota
Patricia Bauer has a good sample of responses to the movie, both those defending it as a parody of Hollywood and those offended by the "R" word.

Probably the best comparison is the use of the "N" word in film -- a matter of debate when used by black directors; offensive when used by white directors. By that metric the movie is at best gratuitously offensive, at worst cruel.


Anonymous said...

What did the R in ARC originally stand for?

John Gordon said...


And the C in NAACP used to stand for colored.

Your point?

movie junkie said...

Ben Stiller has a track record of doing anything for a laugh