Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tropic Thunder Helps Those With Intellectual Disabilities

I am the father of a 12 year old boy diagnosed with Autistic Disorder and assessed with Profound Developmental Delays. I was invited to attend a showing of Tropic Thunder and yesterday I did so, albeit with serious misgivings. Having seen the movie I believe that Tropic Thunder actually helps those with intellectual disabilities, and others, by focusing our attention on how the motion picture industry exploits, and presents inaccurate, and false, images of people with intellectual disabilities and other challenges, including obesity and addiction.

Tropic Thunder targets Hollywood for a number of sins, including its exploitation and presentation of distorted images of people with intellectual disabilities. The character portrayed in the movie within the movie, "Simple Jack", does not resemble in any way anyone I have ever met with an intellectual disability or developmental delay. The presentation of the character and the use of the word "retard" in some of the relevant scenes was uncomfortable for me as the father of a son with "profound developmental delays". But I did not find it offensive. and the clear targets are the vain and superficial actors who portray such distortions and the industry which greedily exploits them.

I am not trying to tell others how to feel about this issue. Or whether they should see the movie. For me, Tropic Thunder raised serious issues for discussion in the way that satire does - not by a scholarly dissertation - but by actually showing, and mocking, its target - in this case the motion picture industry.

And it is funny.

1 comment:

Alex Plank said...

While I understand the intent in satirizing the motion picture industry, I think the majority of teens who go to see this film will not think that much into it. As a blogger and a more mature adult, you obviously see the satire for what it is.

However, like other movies of its kind, kids are going to quote tropic thunder to friends, including the simple jack character. However, unlike Tropic Thunder, they will find humor in quoting the most offensive lines out of context. Some kids will make more frequent use of the term 'retard' in bullying their peers because they see their role models doing it on the big screen.