Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tropic Thunder: Focusing on the Problem, Not the Solution

This movie has caused quite a stir even before it's release date.

It's a parody about the film industry and at the center is a character whose acting career is on the skids. For laughs, the movie relies on an old technique of using words and stereotypes that makes everyone laugh at the expense of people who are labeled with mental retardation disabilities. For that, one can only hope that they go easy the careers of Stiller and Black because they have stooped to an all time low on this one.

In the movie itself, there is a comedy-parody movie about the industry standard of portraying people with mental retardation disability labels. Unfortunately, Mr. Stiller does not understand that once he enters into the political arena of creating characterizations of our children that reflect negatively on their humanity he becomes part of the culture creating the barriers our children have to face each day. Furthermore, if he had an issue with Hollywood's "industry standard" then he should have used a more proactive approach rather than perpetuating the characterization with ongoing gags about "going full retard."

I heard that DreamWorks just pulled the plug on one of the website releasing this statement:

A consortium of groups including the Special Olympics and the Down Syndrome Assn. of Los Angeles first contacted the studio Friday and set up a meeting with DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider and other senior executives to discuss their concerns about the film. That meeting is scheduled to take place this afternoon .
DreamWorks decided to pull the plug on the site Monday night as a preemptive move.

"We heard their concerns, and we understand that taken out of context, the site appeared to be insensitive to people with disabilities," DreamWorks spokesman Chip Sullivan said."


... in DreamWorks reality bubble, the right context for this kind of characterization is their movie, "Tropic Thunder," a movie that claims the running gags about "retards" was not intended to be funny because "going full retard" isn't really meant to be funny. We should only be laughing if we see the satirical portrayal of "industry standard" and the actor on the big screen who is pretending to act like "retard."

So, "in context" means it is acceptable for DreamWorks to portray people with mental retardation labels as long as it's making fun of the perpetrators who help perpetuate inaccurate characterizations of our children?

Isn't that focusing on the problem, not the solution?

Either way, I still don't get how any of this is funny much less material for "the hottest movie this summer."

The ends do not justify the means.


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