I’m adding my name/support to the growing list of disability rights advocates and groups, including my friends at Special Olympics and the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA), in protest of the new Ben Stiller film TROPIC THUNDER because of its negative portrayal of those with intellectual disabilities and the repeated use of the offensive, outdated word ‘retard.’ It isn’t funny, Mr. Stiller.
Disability Coalitions Unite
August 11, 2008
Several National Disability Organizations are joining together to protest the star-studded premiere of DreamWorks’ “Tropic Thunder” to demonstrate against the film’s use of the inflammatory word “retard” and the demeaning portrayal of people with intellectual disabilities throughout the movie. Organizations supporting the protest should mobilize their grassroots members to join us. Please wear a shirt/hat with the logo of your organization.
The use of the R-Word perpetuates the dehumanizing and negative stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. “Tropic Thunder “is an enormously offensive and degrading film released by Dreamworks. The protest will focus on making all who were associated with the film and the general public better understand the hateful outcome this film is sure to create. The protest is our time to raise our voices and demand change.
Monday, August 11, 2008 at 4:00 p.m.
Gathering point will be in front of Stan’s Donut Shop on the corner of Broxton and Weyburn Avenues in Westwood across from Mann Village Theatre (961 Broxton Ave). Plan on being at the protest from 4:00 – 7:30 pm. Note: There are several paid parking lots within the area.
Sunday’s N.Y. Times on “Tropic Thunder”
Advocates for disabled to protest “Tropic Thunder”
Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:24pm EDT
By Sue Zeidler
Statement of Support and Solidarity
-We, as organizations and self-advocates representing members of the disability community, recognize the dignity of individuals with intellectual disabilities and the challenges they and their families face in society.
-Acknowledge that individuals with intellectual disabilities have been subject to discrimination, abuse, and exclusion from society throughout history.
-Recognize that the more than 200 million individuals with intellectual disabilities worldwide, and more than 6 million individuals with intellectual disabilities in the US, have suffered severe consequences including: institutionalization, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, denial of education, employment, and healthcare, segregation, and targeted hate crimes.
-Understand that for over four decades the media has consistently mischaracterized people with intellectual disabilities; (Pardun, 2005).
-Realize that over 80% of U.S. adults surveyed feel that media portrayals are an obstacle to the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. (Pardun, 2005).
-Recognize that many people, including those with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends, consider the “R-word” just as offensive as the “N-word and declare that under the guise of “parody,” whether intentional or not, Tropic Thunder demeans, insults, and harms individuals with intellectual disabilities by using the “R- word.”
Together, we declare our intention to make the public aware of the need to create and foster inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities as a matter of social justice by:
· Boycotting the film and explaining to our nation’s children why the film is harmful.
· Educating the public, especially young people, about intellectual disabilities through far-reaching awareness campaigns to ban the “R-word,” and other initiatives to permanently change attitudes and promote inclusion.
· Demanding that Hollywood studios, writers and executives pledge to make this the final chapter in a sullied history of demeaning portrayals of individuals with intellectual disabilities and assist in public education campaigns through dedicated studio funds and talent.
-Requesting that Congress investigate and conduct oversight of how Hollywood portrays individuals with intellectual disabilities and the effect these portrayals have on our nation and around the world.
100 Universal City Plaza, Bldg. 5121, Universal City, CA 91608
5555 Melrose Ave., Ball/Lasky Bldgs., Los Angeles, CA 90038
Ben Stiller, Writer/Director/Producer
Read Hour Films, 629 N. La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036