Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Moment for Down Syndrome - Tropic Thunder

Today's Monday Moment is a little different from the other weeks. Hopefully it will never be like this ever again. I want to talk a little about the movie Tropic Thunder. I did a half baked post about this last week but I felt that it deserved some more blog space, more attention, more than what I said... because MAYBE there are still some of you out there still planning on seeing this movie.

Ben Stiller is "funny"... I get that. His dumb humor makes people (like my husband) laugh. Jack Black... he's funny too. I guess. I even admit that I liked "School of Rock." Here's the thing... Dreamworks has attacked my daughter. Ben Stiller and Jack Black and even my VERY favorite actor in the world, Matthew McConaughey and every other actor in that movie has attacked my daughter.

Dramatic much? Maybe. But what if they used the N word? Surely that wouldn't fly. What if they were attacking gay people? You can bet that wouldn't be aired. Yet people all over the country are going to see this movie... and they're going to laugh... at my daughter and people like her. They're going to buy T-shirts that mock my child... and THOUSANDS of others who carry the diagnosis of mentally retarded.

Still think I'm over-reacting? Listen to this scene from the movie.

The actor character played by Ben Stiller, Tugg Speedman, has key scenes in the movie which recreate a character he has played called Simple Jack. Jack is a ‘retard’. This element of the movie gives rise to a slew of objectionable phrases slanted directly at the disabled. Take the following, a conversation between Downey Jr’s character and Stiller’s, revolving around Stiller’s decision to play said ‘retard’:

Stiller: There were times when I was doing Jack when I actually felt retarded. Like really retarded.

Downey: Oh yeah. Damn.

Stiller: In a weird way, I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that it was okay to be stupid or dumb.

Downey: To be a moron.

Stiller: Yeah.

Downey: To be moronical.

Stiller: Exactly.

Downey: An imbecile.

Stiller: Yeah. When I was playing a character.

Downey: When you was a character.

Stiller: Yeah, I mean, as Jack. Definitely.

Downey: It’s like working with mercury. It’s how science makes art form.

Stiller: Yeah.

Downey: You an artist.

Stiller: It’s what we do, right?

Downey: Everybody knows you never do a full retard.

Stiller: What do you mean?

Downey: Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, Rainman, look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic. Sure. Not retarded.

You know Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump. Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and he won a ping-pong competition? That ain’t retarded.

You went full retard, man. Never go full retard.

How about now? Can you look at Kennedy's sweet little face, after she's fought SO hard for EVERYTHING in her life, and still go see that movie? Am I throwing you a guilt trip? Yes. I am. Because until the day I die I will fight for MY child and I will do my part to defend her against people like Dreamworks who wants everyone in the country to torture her with lines from this movie... because THEY want people to laugh. One day, Kennedy will understand what all of this means. She WILL know when people are mocking her. She WILL hurt and her heart WILL break... just like yours and mine. But until she is old enough to figure it out and speak for herself, I will be here to be her voice. If this is not enough, here's a reminder of why it hurts.

Still think I'm over-reacting? OK. Fine. But add me to the list with: Kallie's mom, Jacob's dad, MaryEllen's mom, Nash's mom, Darah's mom, Sophie's mom, Dominic's mom, Aiden's mom, Cheyenne and Mercedes' mom, Zoey's mom, Emma, Brianna and Micah's mom, Larkin's mom, Vinnie's mom, Lacey's mom, Mikey's dad, Ciarra's mom, Megan's mom, and her dad, too, Ethan's mom, Caden's mom, Aiden's mom, Ashlie's mom, Payton and Addison's mom, Tarenne's mom, Avery's mom, Lucas' mom, Charlie's mom, Angela's mom, Emma's dad, Kaia's mom, Tristan's mom, Delphine's mom, Joey's mom, Brant's mom, Ruby's mom, Nathan's mom, Paul's mom, Curtis' mom, Dillon's mom, John's mom, Parker's mom, Matty's mom, Kayla's mom, Ella Grace's mom, Gabi's mom, Gabby, Giovanna and Isabella's mom, Sierra's mom and Meghan, Kara and Amanda's mom. We can't ALL be over dramatic... can we?!

PLEASE don't go see this movie. Let Dreamworks know this is wrong. There will be a lot of other choices out there for mindless entertainment. Take a stand for Kennedy and all her friends and say NO to Tropic Thunder.


waldenhouse said...



Sherry said...

Thanks for the heads up. It is sad that there are people who would think that any of that is funny.

The Parker Family said...

Love this post Renee!! You have said it all and then some!! Thanks for the advice and link earlier!

Proud Momma of 3 said...

When I did not know that this movie made fun of people that are delayed, I did want to see it but now there is no way. My daughter to fought hard and had the heart of a champion to be made fun of like that. In this day of being politically correct why is it still okay to make fun of people with special needs?!! I just don't get it and I will post about it on Sierra's blog as well.

God bless,

Mary Lynn

momof4as said...

I started a post about this earlier today but I don't think it's up yet. I totally agree with you!!


Laura said...

This makes me sick, R or not Jonathan is perfect...that's how GOD created him. I think my liite guy is awesome, sad others are making money off of poking fun. It's ONLY funny if everyone is we see not everyone will be laughing!!! I'm pretty sick of Hollywood all together, and am glad I don't rely on Hollywood for fun, or for my values.

Mom of Army Brats. said...

AMEN!! Ive been meaning to post about this movie.. and I will get to it.. you can add me to the list I will NOT be seeing this

Tracie said...

Hi - I came over from Amy's blog.
I always wonder the exact same thing - WHY is that acceptable?

I don't have any children with down's, but i did have a very special uncle who did. When I hear people use that word I think I should have a picture and ask them if they want to see my "retard"(i dont even like typing it) - and then tell how blessed I am because he was in my life.

WHen I see a child with down's it melts my heart- they are the sweetest. God bless those of you who have been chosen for that journey.

I hadn't heard about the movie, but I will post something about it on my family's web site so they all know not to see it.

Tracie said...

Oh - I forgot to add- I laughed out loud at waldenhouse's post - my keybpard was broke about two weeks ago and i had to do the same thing.

Becky said...

I am upset with Newsweek and all other sources that are giving this movie rave reviews without giving a thought to the offensiveness, too. And NBC who is advertising it during the Olympics! Ugh. I am truly disappointed in everyone involved in any way with this movie. You are most definitely NOT over-reacting!

Michelle said...

waldenhouse's comment is the best comment I've EVER read! haha

I'm with you, Renee. I blogged about this today, too. Disgusting. We will definitely not be seeing this movie.

And what irks me today? Stiller & Black are parents! Don't they get it?? Ugh.

Melissa said...

ABSOLUTELY disgusting!! I will NOT be seeing this movie with my kids!!

Ann said...

I wasn't planning on seeing this movie anyway, looks too "dumb humor" for my taste. Believe me if any of my friends plan on seeing it I will let them know about this scene. Even if I don't change their mind about the movie perhaps it will cause them to think a little.

I absolutely love that you are so candid about your feelings. You are an amazing mom and a great advocate for you girl and so many others.

God bless you!

countryjacket said...

Amen! I will NOT be going to this movie. I have posted an entry on my own blog....protesting this film. It is time we stand up for those who can not defend themsevles against such hateful words and actions.

Sara said...

Renee, your post is very moving. I hope you don't mind, but I linked your post in my post. Please let me know if that is not OK. Thanks.

~Melissa~ said...

Good post - I've been trying to write mine, but have had a hard time putting everything into the right words!

Liz Ditz said...

It is time to take the "r" word out of circulation.

I've written a blog post, Words Hurt: The "r" Word, on Wanda and Rick Felty's campaign to "Ban the R Word", and Jenna Glatzer's pledge campaign, as well as the "Tropic Thunder" controversy. I've included a link to your blog.

Shari said...

I can not stand the fact that people would actually see this movie if they knew the "talk" that happened between those two actors. It's sickening! My youngest son will figure it out himself about who is making fun of him, etc. because he's a tad different. However, I am reminded when I look at him and all the other special kids on the internet that they are "fearfully and wonderfully made by God." If in God's eyes He believes that then I do too. I have a family who used the R word constantly and they think it's OK. I always correct them and let them know under all circumstances they will not refer to Curtis as that word. Who can't see perfection in him? In my eyes he's perfect!

Anonymous said...

Hi Renee,

Thank you for being the voice of many, thank you for being such a great mother, thank you for being such a powerful advocate. This is a
very touching post.

I want you to know that I'm with Kennedy, all her friends & you on this, I take a stand for all of you. I will not see this movie and will tell about it to all the people I know, so they all know not to see it.

Dreamworks, Ben Stiller, Downey Jr's, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey & all the cast of Tropic Thunder are MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE, that is hurting and will hurt many good & beautiful children and people.

No one that has some respect for human dignity should see this movie.

All I know is that God doesn't like ugly and I feel sorry for all the people that are involved with this UGLY MOVIE called Tropic Thunder.

Thank you so much ~

Kleidy (New York)

Nick McGivney said...

Keep shouting, Renee. It WILL make a difference.

Marine said...

You can add me to the list of over-reacting people! i won't be seeing this movie.

Carson's Mom said...

Thanks for putting this out on your blog. I hope that people everywhere will join us in voting with their wallet that this is NOT funny.


little.birdy said...

I also posted about this in my blog. I don't have a child, but I'm in school to be a speech-language pathologist and I have family members with special needs. I had just blogged about the word "retard" when you drew my attention to this movie. I find the dialog so tasteless, flat, and idiotic that I can't see how anyone could find it funny.

StephthefutrRxDr said...

I'm absolutey NOT going to see this movie, it makes me sad too that people think it's ok to put down people like beautiful miss Kennedy and my sweet sister Janice. :( :( I'm been sad about this since I heard about it.

marsha said...

I left you a msg on your myspace page regarding this topic.

Tess said...

Having a son with Asperger's syndrome, we NEVER use the R word at our house EVER! I haven't heard of this movie but i'm sure it wont be long before it hits Oz and I for one and my family will NOT be supporting it.
Rainman, we did watch, with tears flowing, I am Sam, we watched with tears, these movies made you understand everyones point of view, from the carer to the disabled. BUT I simply cant understand how or why people feel the need to make movies or generally laugh at people with disabilities.
Yes they may do things that make us laugh, what kid doesn't, but as parents we laugh with them NOT AT THEM, there's a difference and I for one, refuse to laugh AT someone.
SHAME SHAME SHAME on the censorship people to let this one get through i say!!! my soapbox now
good on you Renee for blogging about this.

Tess said...

Having a son with Asperger's syndrome, we NEVER use the R word at our house EVER! I haven't heard of this movie but i'm sure it wont be long before it hits Oz and I for one and my family will NOT be supporting it.
Rainman, we did watch, with tears flowing, I am Sam, we watched with tears, these movies made you understand everyones point of view, from the carer to the disabled. BUT I simply cant understand how or why people feel the need to make movies or generally laugh at people with disabilities.
Yes they may do things that make us laugh, what kid doesn't, but as parents we laugh with them NOT AT THEM, there's a difference and I for one, refuse to laugh AT someone.
SHAME SHAME SHAME on the censorship people to let this one get through i say!!! my soapbox now
good on you Renee for blogging about this.

This Mama's Hood said...

It isn't right and they should know that it isn't right. Nielsen ratings out of Hollywood called last night to get my opinions on some movies coming out. When they brought up Tropic Thunder I gave them an ear full.
Dan and I both agree whole heartedly with boycotting the movie. I hope you don't mind but I am going to link this post in my blog.

My Semblance of Sanity said...

DREAMWORKS won't get a dime from THIS girl!!!

I am saddened that those actors (most of which are my favorites) could be so heartless.


Bethany said...

Amen sista!

Anonymous said...

I will not see that movie! Had no intentions of seeing it after the 1st post, but now I will be passing the word on to everyone!


CrackerJacks said...

The preview didn't look good in the first place. Thanks for all the info.

I tagged you for a meme too. My first! Details over at my blog!

JennyH said...

Great post.

I hope it's ok if I link to this.- I haven't yet, but it is such a great post with all the other links included.

Anonymous said...

Sigh....another ill-informed posting on this topic. This movie does not make fun of mentally handicapped people, it makes fun of the pampered, spoiled, clueless actors who aren't bright enough to know any better.

It satirizes how Hollywood gives out awards to actors who play mentally handicapped individuals and mocks Hollywood for their treatment of the subject.

It is NOT, I repeat NOT, mocking those who are "differently-abled" or whatever PC term is in vogue now. It is mocking stupid, lazy Hollywood.

Now I'm hoping that the movie does fantastic box office and makes oodles of money. Just to piss you clueless idiots off - you guys don't even know what you're protesting. You're just as dumb as the brainless actors Stiller portrays in his movie.

McKenna said...

Amen sister!

MoziEsmé said...

Great post! Thanks for spreading the word . . .

Shari said...

Renee: you can make your comments so it won't accept anonymous commenters. It's always the cowardly anonymous commenters that have a "drive by" comment to shoot others down and try to make themselves look good! In actuality they are the idiots; not us!

Holly Aytes said...

No you aren't over-reacting! Any mother would do the same and if they say they wouldn't, well they are lying! I would have seen this movie without a doubt b/c Matt and I both like the actors in it but now we won't and we will be informing our friends who would see it. Thanks for being Kennedy's voice :) Maybe if enough people "complain" the movie won't do well and Dreamworks won't attempt another movie of this kind!

marsha said...

Referring to the comment that Tess made: "Yes they may do things that make us laugh, what kid doesn't, but as parents we laugh with them NOT AT THEM, there's a difference and I for one, refuse to laugh AT someone."

My neighbor had DS (past tense only because he is not longer my neighbor)and got the opportunity to play basketball with his Special Olypmics team during half time at a semi-pro basketball game. The parents of the Olympians were all sitting together and when their children got on the floor they were laughing so hard just seeing their kids out there and having fun. Acording to my neighbor, the looks of disbelief from those around them was amazing. They were all shocked that people would be laughing at the athletes...until the athletes finished the game and joined their parents in the stands. My neighbor said there was a sign of relief from those around them when they realized that they were not sitting in a crowd of insensitive fools...but in a crowd of parents!

Anonymous said...

Renee, regarding the coward that is defending Hollywood I have this to say: SAD, life will teach this person and hopefully one day he will be able to stand for THOSE WITHOUT A VOICE. The good news is all your efforts and the efforts of many are paying off, check out the news, next time Hollywood wants to make fun of us they will think about it twice...
Cathy Smith - Beverly Hills, CA

Anonymous said...

Hi Renee, I found out about Kennedy and your family through praying for some other children at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Immediately I added Kennedy and your family to my prayer list and I think of you all daily. With all that said, I wanted to forward you a copy of what Special Olympics Missouri has sent out today regarding Tropic Thunder.
Dear Friend,

I invite you to be a fan of dignity and join me in a campaign to stop the use of the “R-word" (retard). This week, the film "Tropic Thunder" opens in movie theaters across the nation. While intended to be a satire on Hollywood actors and producers, the film uses the word "retard" in a poor attempt at humor. Special Olympics has joined forces with national disability organizations to combat the use of this word in everyday vernacular. It is dehumanizing and anything but funny.

I am asking you to help me in this campaign by boycotting the film "Tropic Thunder." If we can hurt the ticket sales of this film, we will have made a statement to Hollywood that we will not stand for this type of content that is hurtful to people with mental disabilities.

We are staging an organized presence in many cities across Missouri on August 13. It is our hope to educate the public that this word is hurtful. Click here for an organized event near you.

Be a fan of Dignity, don’t say the R-word. Visit


Mark C. Musso

President & CEO

I support your thoughts in your blog and understand.

Melissa Goodwin
Nashville, TN

Rachel said...

I agree with you Renee and will NOT be going to see this movie, nor will any of my family and friends.

And to that Anonymous commenter......GROW UP! Think about someone besides your self!


somebody's mama said...

I forwarded you some docs that were just released by the NDSC and the NDSS. Check your email girly.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, looks like I struck a nerve - well GOOD!!!

Are you people thinking seriously? No one is going to go out and start calling people on the street "retards" - they will be laughing at the dimwittted actors who take themesleves so seriously that they think playing a mentally challenged person will get them an academy award.

I'm laughing at the comments that say I'm defending Hollywood. I just called Hollywood stupid and dimwitted and you say I'm defending them. LOL

The movie is satirizing Hollywood, NOT people with disabilities - you guys are protesting something you haven't even SEEN!!! Do you guys realize how crazy you sound? You give good protests a bad name.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you and I will be spreading the word NOT TO SEE the ignorant movie tropic thunder or any other Hollywood movie that makes fun of others and is as disrespectful as tropic thunder.

Paul Charles - London, England

somebody's mama said...

Move along Mr. or Mrs. Cowardess-Anonymous. Your unkind words not only underestimate the VAST community of individuals with disabilities and their families, you look like a fool voicing them here.

I suggest you share them with a good friend, someone that can relate to your level of disregard of individuals with disabilities.

These are good people, those who for obvious reasons highly regard their family members. I don't care what sort of come back you have about how you think we are wrong and your right buddy, because "we" don't care what you think, it won't deter us from the cause at hand.

In fact, we won't even bat another eye at your relentless attempts to sway our views, or banter about how we are wrong. They are simply a waste of your time.

We are a much larger community than one little anonymous blogger.

AZmomto8 said...

Add Meghan, Kara, and Amanda's mother to your list. I was waiting for some close-minded adn cruel person to say something about this. It was only a matter of time, cowards never leave their names.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the heads up Renee, this movie tropic thunder and everything and everybody related with it is disgusting!, we will NOT be seeing this movie.

Familia Cruz - Madrid, Spain

Patty said...

You know I am with you!

Anonymous said...


I have a lot of friends all over the world & I will tell ALL of them to tell ALL the people they know NOT TO SEE THIS HORRIBLE movie tropic thunder.

Jean Claude,France

Shari said...

Uh oh--coward anonymous is back! I'm so scared! NOT! Still no name with his or her post. I will stand up for what I believe and regardless of his/her anonymous comments I will NOT back down about what I believe this movie is portraying!

Leah said...

Anonymous said, "No one is going to go out and start calling people on the street "retards"

Are you SERIOUS!?!?! My daughter hears it EVERY DAY! AT SCHOOL! She also happens to have Down Syndrome, and she knows EXACTLY what the word means, and you can be darned sure she feels horrible every time she hears it.

Clearly, you're not on the street much with 12 year olds. Actually, just last weekend my daughter and I sat in the car with my 21 year old niece as she called her sister a retard. With my daughter sitting right there!

This year my daughter starts middle school, the worst age ever to have to ride the bus to school. Kids that are are flat out cruel, and and I both know she will be harassed by some kid who's parents haven't taught him that the word retard is NOT ok to say!

Anonymous said...

hey, my name is stacey & i'm 13 years old, i'm in high school and have many friends & relatives that were planning on seing the disgrace of the movie tropic thunder, i'm calling & e-mailing all of them asking them to please not to see this hateful movie, this movie is just not cool period - Stacey in LA

Head Nut said...

Hi Five!! I feel the exact same way and am shocked that more people are totally ticked off about this movie!!


Anonymous said...

You can add me to the mom's list about Tropic Thunder! Our DS group is all over that here in Springfield. I personally have contacted news and radio stations in protest. I refuse to sit by and let my daughter be attacked and let ignorance about mental disabilities grow. My daughter is perfect (as perfect as any 2 year old can be :) and like Kennedy has shown more courage, spirit, and character than most people do in a lifetime. I wish I could single handedly shut this movie down! I hope it bombs!
Carey, proud mommy of Rylee Dawn

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the warning. How sickening that there are people ho are making money off of ridiculing a group of people who cannot speak up for themselves. Thank you for being so outspoken.

Anonymous said...

I loved the movie, and in context it's obvious that they're mocking the very mindset that you're decrying. Grow a thicker skin.

Raquel said...

But what if they used the N word? Surely that wouldn't fly.

Actually, it would. It did. It does. Are you aware the film also features a white man in blackface?

I am thinking of Spike Lee's film "Bamboozled." The film mocks the entertainment industry's portrayal of African-Americans. A large portion of the film is devoted to a satyrical portrayal of such entertainment: a hyper-offensive, incredibly racist program called "Mantan: the New Millennial Minstrel Show."

Are you quite sure that this isn't what Ben Stiller is doing here? I think the "never go full retard" conversation is supposed to show how, despite his Oscar-baiting Important Sensitive Role portrayal of a special-needs guy, he's really just an opportunistic jerk.

Sentiments expressed by a character (even the main character) are not necessarily the beliefs held by the writer. If they were, then Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) would be a rapist/murderer, Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) would be a fascist, Robert Browning (My Last Duchess) would be a controlling, abusive, murderous husband, and Bram Stoker would be a vampire.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

In the 70's retarded was the politically correct word. Before that they were called worse things like Mongoloid. I would think retard world be more gentle.

For proof watch the All In The Family Episode #080 - Gloria's Boyfriend.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sandra said...

My take on the DGFR scene was that they were not mocking the disabled. They were cold-bloodedly analyzing the general public's attitude towards the disabled.

A developmentally-disabled character who was portrayed accurately would probably not be embraced by the mall-cinema crowd. What Downey's character was pointing out was that Forrest Gump, Raymond Babbitt and Chance were not accurate portrayals of disabled characters. They all had above-average aspects that balanced out their disabilities, making them more palatable to a mass audience. That's all he meant; he wasn't saying that there's anything wrong with being retarded or autistic. And I'm surprised that families of disabled people aren't more frustrated with glurgey portrayals like FG, which I'm sure have little to do with their real lives.

I'm sorry that the word is hurtful, but it hardly originated with this film.

movie junkie said...

Ben Stiller has a track record of doing anything for a laugh (i'm thinking Heartbreak Kid, yuck)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.