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Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category

“Tropic Thunder” and the War Over Words

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by Treadmarkz

I have not seen the new Ben Stiller/Jack Black comedy “Tropic Thunder” but friends have been urging me to comment on the whole hub-bub the movie is creating over the word “retard”. Though I haven’t seen it, and though I am not a “retard”, I am in fact a “cripple”, I feel that the same basic principle applies to my situation. I feel that the people behind most of the “protests” of this movie are “non-disabled” people who are just full of righteous indignation. It looks good to protest things like this.
Further, I think people take things like the use of the word “retard” in a movie way too seriously. It is not directed at a single person is it? Well it is, actually but a movie character, and from what I understand, what is being attacked in this movie is actors who try to play “mentally handicapped” characters as if they really understood what it is like to be “mentally handicapped.”

Sure, movies like this may affect the way people see “mentally disadvantaged” people, or whatever the “correct” term is these days. But if you are worried about it, then make it your goal to show people who you really are before they get the chance to make that judgment on you. That is everybody’s mission in life, so its not just disabled people or any other minority who have an extra burden. It is everybody’s goal, one way or another, to put their best face forward. Damn a movie. Let’s make sure we are remembering that we don’t live in “Movieland”. We are people with individual personalities that do not fit into the mold of a stereotype. So, unless you actually do fit these stereotypes they shouldn’t bother you.

And lastly, I’ve said it before, but if we can’t say “retard” and we can’t say “cripple” then we can’t say “four-eyes”. This is a slippery slope, this issue of words we can’t use. Near-sightedness and far-sightedness is, in fact a disability so if we can’t make jokes about the mentally and physically disabled then there are a whole long list of other people we can’t make fun of. Think about it so I don’t have to present the list.

George Carlin, 1937-2008 : The “Class Clown” Theory

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by Treadmarkz

I read the news today that George Carlin, comic, philosopher and First Amendment antagonist had died (I won’t say “passed on” because George wouldn’t like that). I have been a devoted fan of his since I was about 18. I didn’t always agree with him, but I was always entertained. When I watched his most recent HBO Special back in March, I thought that he didn’t look well, and it got me wondering how many more of those Specials he was going to be able to give us. He spoke of death in his last Special, but he spoke of death a lot. Any good comic does. But what I will never forget about Carlin is how he would take an issue, usually a really juicy one, and put a twist on it, stripping it right down to the core of the matter. And after George’s take on it, if they still were unable to see it from a new perspective, well…George did what he could. But that was the best part of his act, how he could take an issue like National Security, Nuclear War, drugs, or the death penalty, or even disabilities, and turn them inside out and make them look silly.

Carlin once said “I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.” Sound’s good to me. Somebody’s gotta do it.

My favorite George Carlin routine is “Football and Baseball” because I love baseball, but George forced me to see the ridiculous side of the game. If you listen to him without judging he may help you see at least a glimmer of silliness in all that you hold dear. So I am going to post it here.
I think about Carlin sometimes when I am writing about real subversive subjects like handicapped bathrooms, or the word “cripple” or comments people make to me about my disability, and I think “What Would Carlin Say?”.

What I’ve learned from Carlin is what I would call the “Class Clown” theory: They can’t laugh at you if they are laughing with you. And if they laugh enough, they can’t help but agree with you, or at least try to see your side of the story, because laughter, somehow, seems to make this world make a whole lot of sense. And that is what made George Carlin great. Not just any comic can do it the way he did.

Thanks, George