Monday, August 11, 2008

Down with that sort of thing



I am only going to make oblique references to a new film being released at the end of this month, starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jnr, because I don't want to feed it the oxygen of publicity that a controversial film gets.


Nick on Downsdad and Kristina Chew on Autism Vox have covered this issue admirably and I will only add that you should perhaps check out this Youtube Clip.


Sadly, my own son has been talking about this dreadful movie for weeks. He is a regular reader of the Dreamworks website and like Madagascar II ; he knows this film is Coming to Cinemas Everywhere Soon. Fortunately he has not quoted any lines from the trailers. And now that they have been deleted, I am hoping he won't.


Because that is the problem. Like Zoolander before it, this film is bound to lead to quoteamania.
"Blue Steele" (do the face)
"Mer-man! *keh... keh... keh...* MER-MAN!"
"Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty"

or how about:
"Words can only hurt you if you try to read them"


Now imagine me and Boo in the foyer of the leisure club with Boo doing his flapping and whooping. An adolescent boy looks at his companion and says slyly "Never go full Retard".

It can and will happen. And it will happen again and again to every learning challenged kid who might be successfully attending a mainstream school. Who might be just about coping. Who might be fitting in. It will happen to the siblings of those kids who don't go to mainstream. But whose horrible friends watch the DVD and use it to get a popular edge on their mate with the weird brother.

And it won't be the kid who makes the joke who hurts them. It will be the others who might have been their friend, but for the sudden tinge of reflected "difference" being cast by the child with special needs. Schools are cruel. Nobody wants to be the butt of the joke. Because that is just one short step from being bullied and miserable.

There are plenty of ways to raise awareness of special needs in our community and be funny at the same time. Creating an obviously unlikeable character and using them as an example to demonstrate the wrong way in consultation with the special needs community is perfect.
Creating a catchphrase that is going to be written on every public toilet wall for the next 20 years isn't.

I will boycott this film. But that doesnt mean much as I wouldn't have seen it anyway. I will also stop Boo from buying it on DVD, 4 times. Again. It won't mean much. But if you boycott it, and tell all your friends to tell their friends then it might mean something.

Finally I will paste in this quote from Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics writing in the Washington Post
"People with intellectual disabilities are routinely abused, neglected, insulted, institutionalized and even killed around the world. Their parents are told to give up, that their children are worthless. Schools turn them away. Doctors refuse to treat them. Employers won't hire them. None of this is funny."

Dreamworks is a big company. They need to cop on.

xx

10 comments:

The Seeker said...

Oh dear, what you're telling is terrible!!!
It really does make me M.A.D when that word is used.

Father had Parkinson's, Mother has Alzheimer's and I know what's people being rude.

I'll vote for the boycott!!!!!!!!

Anyway I've got a little surprise for you in my blog. :)

xoxo

Sister Wolf said...

Will do.

p.s. I've always hated Ben Stiller, but this ups the ante quite a bit.

Nick McGivney said...

Thanks Hammie. I envision it this way: a line of expensively dressed arses (Dreamworks and the team behind and in front of this movie) getting a little kick every time a ticket doesn't sell. Won't kill em, but might make sitting uncomfortable for a night, and that might be remembered.

downsdad

Hammie said...

Just a kick? I will be borrowing Imelda's Taser.
Seeker, thankyou for your thoughts and the surprise. Will save it for my next post.
Sister Wolf, how bout you fly over for a ritual DVD burning outside the Greystones Cinema? We can start with Starsky and Hutch...
xx

Nick McGivney said...

Thanks Hammie for the behind-the-scenes on this one:

Newstalk 106 is doing a report/debate which is scheduled to kick off tomorrow morning, Thurs 14th, on the Brenda Power show sometime between 9 and 11. Expect plenty of fireworks and biased opinions to air (mine for one).

Please mobilise support. I am not going to ask anyone to boycott this movie. I am going to ask everyone to fully inform themselves about its content and then decide. If they want to avoid the movie to send a stinging rebuke to Dreamworks, Ben Stiller and Hollywood in general, then fine by me. If they don't fine by me too. Find more information here: http://downsdad.wordpress.com

Many thanks. If you blog, please spread the link.If you're not fropm round these parts, the debate is happening in your town too. See patriciaebauer.com for heaps more.

Many thanks

Nick

Sal said...

No shit. Dreamworks and everyone involved in this film should be ashamed. And then, possibly, taken out back and beaten. By me.

Like Sister Wolf, my love for Ben Stiller ranks somewhere near my love for athlete's foot, so I wasn't going to see this pile of drek anyway. But as someone with a sister who has Downs and shoots flames out her ears at the sound of the r-word, I will now feel free to forbid everyone I know from viewing it. In my loud voice.

Sal said...

No shit. Dreamworks and everyone involved in this film should be ashamed. And then, possibly, taken out back and beaten. By me.

Like Sister Wolf, my love for Ben Stiller ranks somewhere near my love for athlete's foot, so I wasn't going to see this pile of drek anyway. But as someone with a sister who has Downs and shoots flames out her ears at the sound of the r-word, I will now feel free to forbid everyone I know from viewing it. In my loud voice.

Sharon said...

Hi Hammie! Nice to see another Irish autism blog. I never even knew!

The picture of Fr Ted was just what I've been thinking since I heard about this whole thing. I'm afraid that talking so much and making public protests helps publicise the film, bringing it to the standard news media. But here it's worth it. I'd say there are loads of people who have no idea why retard is a horrible word, and the controversy might shake some of them into dropping it from use.
Well, one can dream.

enc said...

Schools are already hard enough for kids that don't have disabilities. Imagine how difficult they are for those who do.

I know how quickly catchphrases CATCH on, and how they stick so well, completely out of context.

I'm glad there's an uproar over this. Maybe, just maybe, someone in the Power Throne will take notice.

I'd be the farm that if someone at Dreamworks had a special needs child, that cr@p wouldn't have gone into the script.

jazzygal said...

Hi Hammie,
If this movie is as bad as they say then I'm apalled.At this stage it has already previewed in the States so more definite info should be available. I am absolutely horrified by RDJ's "full retard" comment.
retard is not just a word and it has the potential to undo all the ground that disabled lobbies have made over the years.
And you're right... the schoolyard can be a very scary place indeed. A poster on RC suggests "Retard" may become the new "you're gay" and I fear she's absolutely right. "gay" is a word used regularly, in a very nonchalant way in our mainstream school, by all the kids. Years ago it was the word "spa". This movie could take us right back to those days.