Yes, it's another post about the R-Word. Are you tired of them yet? Honestly, I'm a bit tired of writing them myself, yet it seems every time I turn around there's yet another story of the word being misused. I wasn't going to say much on this one- what's there to say after the last few- but even a few days after reading this one still bugs me. For those who don't yet know what I'm talking about, I'm referring to the quote in the new movie 'The Change Up', where Ryan Reynold's character, referring to his friend's twins says, “Why aren’t they talking – what are they retarded? And this one, he looks Downsy.'”
First of all, I have to start off by saying I have not seen the movie and I had no intention of seeing it. I'm not a fan of other movies by the same people (The Hangover) and I don't enjoy this kind of humor. So I'm obviously not the target audience for this film. However, I don't necessarily think that makes any difference in my opinion of this line. Some have questioned if the line was intended to make the character out to be a bad guy of sorts, again I've not seen it so I can't say the context in which it was said, but based on comments from others who have seen it, it seemed to be for no other reason than a cheap laugh. And even if it was the intended purpose to make us dislike the character there are other ways to do this- DOWNSY? Really? This crosses a line. It is insulting, degrading and bullying. It is picking on a group of people who get picked on enough already and in some cases are not able to defend themselves. Picking on the defenseless- doesn't get much lower than that...and for what? A few laughs? If you have to sink to such a level, you must not really be so funny to begin with. As I stated, I'm not the target audience for this movie, but I am certain there are parents out there who have children with Down Syndrome or various other special needs who may have otherwise enjoyed it. Can you imagine going into a theater to see a movie, only to have your child insulted on the big screen? God forbid there is someone in the audience who finds this funny and you have to listen to their laughter at your child's expense.
Obviously the 'joke' if you want to call it that, directly insults individuals with Down Syndrome, but let's look at it from a bigger statement, one that for myself hits even closer to home. The statement starts with questioning why these children are not talking. If you've followed my blog long, you know that my Shaun started talking early and somewhere along the line he lost most of his language and much of what was left wasn't functional. He has come amazingly far, but his speech and communication is still very far behind his peers. Many children on the Autism spectrum may never speak, or speak very little or very late. And Autism is not the only cause for speech delays. To imply that there is something inferior about a child who speaks later or does not speak at all is, once again, just plain mean.
Interestingly enough, I read an interview this morning with the director where he stated that he too believed the quote was crossing a line, but because test audiences did not complain it was left in. Why, if you believed that it was going too far, would you not stand up for these individuals? When an insult is made against the homosexual community, the uproar is enormous- celebrities, public figures, etc will stand up in defense. If it's a comment that is deemed as racist, once again it's everywhere! These groups are more than capable of defending themselves. So why is it when the joke is aimed at someone who may not be capable of that, we don't hear the uproar nearly as much? Why aren't celebrities and those with public platforms standing up for children with Down Syndrome, Autism and ALL special needs?
I am just a mom with a blog. I don't have millions of followers, or some huge platform to get the word out. But what I do have is passion for spreading the word and raising awareness in hopes that one day people can look past the differences and 'disabilities' and accept people for the wonderful, amazing people they are on the inside. If this post reaches just one person and that one person takes a pledge to end the word, then I am happy!!
For more on this movie, and Spread The Word To End The Word click here!