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Posts Tagged ‘mentally handicapped

“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.

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John Lennon vs. the Handicapped

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by Treadmarkz

Anyone who has read as much about the Beatles as I have probably knows that John Lennon, as a young adult, was not an outwardly sensitive creature. He maintained a gruff and tough exterior, and was known for adding just a pinch of cynicism to some of Paul’s more happy-go-lucky tunes.

Before being politically-correct was even thought of, Lennon had a ghoulish sense of humor, and was fond of drawing crude sketches of, and doing exaggerated impressions of the physically and mentally handicapped. He once insisted on shaking the hand of a veteran who had lost both arms in WWII. You may not find anything funny about this, and I certainly don’t either. Ironic maybe, but not funny.

However, I take it for what it was: a defense mechanism. I make no excuses for my musical hero. That’s just what it was. Lennon once said that the Beatles became so famous that mothers of disabled children were coming up to them and asking them to just touch their child’s hand in the hopes that it would cure the child’s ailment. The front row at their concerts was always full of kids in wheelchairs almost as though they were waiting to be annointed by the Beatles sweat. Soon this became a horrifying experience for Lennon.

There is a reason that I feel that it was not in John Lennon’s true nature, nor was it his true intention to be cruel toward people less physically or mentally “fortunate” than him. In 1972, Lennon put on a concert to benefit mentally disabled children. It was his way of making right on his past immaturity. And not only did he put on the show, he wanted to release an album of the show for charity as well, but that didn’t happen until 1986. This was 1972, remember, when a charity concert was not a popular thing to do, and if it was done, it was like the Monterrey Pop Festival with a dozen bands on the bill. The 1972 Lennon show was just Lennon and his band.
I have a tattoo which reads “Imagine” because I know that mocking the mentally disabled may have been one of Lennon’s quirks, but open-mindedness and imagination were his message.