Tuesday, August 12, 2008

YouTube - R Word

The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network's video response to the use of "retard" in Tropic Thunder.

YouTube - R Word

Over the past few days I've heard a lot of people try to defend the use of the word "retard". My guess is that Ben Stiller really didn't mean any harm by using it, but it's one of those words that has always made my skin crawl. In my society at least (Canada), it's so commonly used that it's a basic part of most kids' vocabulary.

I often think that it's similar to the "n" word, and I've had more than a few discussions with various owners of community websites about the hypocrisy of filtering the "n" word while "retard" is allowed to pass unchecked.

I'm not actually a huge fan of political correctness, but I also don't see how it helps anyone at all when derogatory language towards a certain group is a part of our society. I hope (but don't expect) that society sees my kids as human beings, but when I hear the word "retard" applied to them (none of them are actually mentally retarded, by the way, and it wouldn't matter in this context if they were), it's just another example of how we use language to control and put other people down. At this point in humanity's evolution, you would hope that we'd be moving beyond that.

And Ben Stiller's response:

While not denying that ridicule exists in the film, Wheeler, Shriver and the rest of the protesters miss the point of who is being made fun of, Stiller told MTV News.

"It's sort of edgy territory, but we felt that as long as the focus was on the actors who were trying to do something to be taken seriously that's going too far or wrong, that was where the humor would come from," Stiller insisted. "[The joke is on] actors reaching for roles in terms of hopefully winning awards."

While I understand what he was trying to do, it still seems like poor judgment, and I'd truly prefer my kids growing up in a society where this is not appropriate. Of course, I'd also like the sky to rain chocolate and wine and books, but that's just me.

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teeni said...

I've never really had a problem with certain words. The true meaning of retard is to delay growth and I think it is true in some people's circumstances. I think some of my own emotional growth has been retarded. But what I do have an issue with is how people use the words. A rock is not a weapon until someone decides to pick it up and throw it at someone else. So I have no problem with the words themselves. It's people's behavior that needs to change, not their vocabularies. Just my opinion.

Wendy said...

Well, my son has been called Retard or retarded many many times in life. Fact of the matter is, he is not retarded. It is a hurtful word when it is directed towards people. Imagine being called that word over and over again. Sometimes life consists of us putting ourselves into other peoples shoes even for a moment in time. It is a word that is unacceptable and people need to take responsibility for it. People need to be kinder and more understanding that if people aren't just like them, doesn't mean that they have the right to put them down and belittle them.

Wendy said...

How did you post this to your blog? I want it to play on mine just as yours plays here... can you tell me how to do so? bakingawish@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...


There are many words that can be used to hurt. It only affects people if they let it. Children use it if they get a response.

IF they didn't use that word, they would use another which is not discussed in this blog...