Ben Stiller, the talented and funny actor has a new movie coming out; it is called Tropic Thunder. It is a movie he was instrumental in producing, by doing the writing and directing, among other things. There is a boycott brewing by special needs advocacy groups because of a movie within the movie. The movie is supposed to be a mocking satire of actors who will take any movie no matter how over the top or bizarre to make a name for themselves as an actor, without regard for the subject matter.
Is this something that is supposed to be funny? The lower our standards of conduct go…the funnier it is supposed to be…is that the concept? Instead of getting kudos by the industry for a financial success…there should be a call to accountability; demanded by the American public for standards of decency. Controvery about the subject matter should not just be just a tool used by public relations departments to garner curiosity that translates to box office rewards; that is my opinion.
One of the movies within the movie called, Simple Jack, allegedly mocks and makes fun of people with disabilities. Meetings with advocacy group leaders were held with Stacey Snider who is a chief executive at Dreamworks…the company that released the film to try to address the concerns about the movie. The studio has refused to make changes to the movie. Shame on them! Their attempts at humor just aren’t funny when the laughs are at the expense of a population of people born with disabilities. Where is the respect?
The promotions for the movie included a image with Simple Jack holding a sign that said, “Once Upon A Time There Was A Retard”….this has since been pulled as a promotion…however…the advocacy groups were not successful in having this part of the movie reduced or removed from the movie Tropic Thunder.
This movie could have a large following just because of the talent in the show, Jack Black, Robert Downey, Jr, a small cameo by Tom Cruise, as well as, Ben Stiller…all good actors with talent. I am sure it will have financial success just because of those actors ability to draw box office dollars. Do they have a social or moral responsibility to choose their projects with regard to cultural sensitivities? Many would say no and are perfectly fine with that; my opinion, is they must bear an accountability.
I have to wonder, if any of the actors in this movie would have had children born to them with disabilities, if they would have, still, chosen to be a part of this movie? I think that perhaps they would not have done so, out of respect for their own child’s valuable dignity! As an example…we all know that Jenny McCarthy is an advocate for her son because of his being diagnosed with autism…can any of you imagine the kind of stigma she would engender if she were to get up on the large screen and mock and poke fun at people with autism? It is unthinkable and unacceptable just because of a sense of decency. I don’t think Jenny McCarthy would do that and i would hope that by discussing these matters…those in the entertainment field would seriously consider the kind of impact they have on their audiences.
There has been an unprecedented joining of the 22 advocacy groups calling for this boycott of the movie because of the offensiveness to those with disability. The power to use your dollars to make a statement, letting Hollywood know that these types of movies will not be accepted, is very important.
Creating an area of awareness about this movie and any other like it that puts down those who are born to situations that they did not choose nor can they change should become a battlecry for those who find the very idea unacceptable. Most of us know, of someone who was born with disabilities and is challenged; think of them and how it would make them feel to know that someone is laughing at them and their situation and making money from it. It is just wrong.
As a parent of special needs students I find the very idea of paying to watch a movie that openly mocks those with challenges offensive. To be fair, the whole movie mocks actors that will do anything to make a buck and increase their fame…however, to me that is no excuse to condone the overview of the movie…it is mocking a group of people who really have very little influence in our society to change public perceptions and this movie is going to make it worse. They are one of our most vulnerable populations and this movie could create situations where young impressionable people think it is ok to present insensitivity to a group of people that don’t deserve to be made fun of! The potential impact on our society is just another layer of sadness in the lowering of standards of appropriate behavior.
Culture is already picking up on the mocking…supposedly there are already T-shirts being worn that advocate the message of “Don’t Go Full Retard”. They are being sold online and the studio says that they will pursue legal action to try to stop the sales of the shirts…however, it is probably because they aren’t getting a cut of the proceeds; and, whoever is producing the shirts didn’t have authorization to make the money that selling the shirts will provide.
If some actors are willing to do anything to further their careers; then i counter that and say, some studios are willing to do whatever it takes to provide the vehicles for them to do so…all the while, making obscene amounts of money while they are at it. Those studios and it’s actors have a responsibility about what they put out for public consumption.
The public that supports them with their money, is often unaware of the content of a movie, until they have paid their money to watch…however, this time around…it is important to let people know what they are contributing to by paying for the priveledge at the movie theaters. It opens on wednesday and even accidental, un-informed viewers who may not know of the content of the movie will add financial backing to this movie giving an impression of endorsement. Will you see this movie? Will you tell others about the content of this movie?