Tropic Thunder and line between humor and cruelty

August 15, 2008 at 1:52 PM 2 comments

This morning at work people were buzzing about a new movie released today from DreamWorks called “Tropic Thunder.”  There is a mounting outrage about it among many groups within the disability community. According to comments made after a private screening of the film with a number of advocacy groups, attendees did not find important elements of this film, “funny.”  The reason being it liberally uses disparaging terms to describe people with intellectual disabilities.

This topic is not entirely new in movies of course, but some who have viewed it feel it crosses a line.  According to David Tolleson, the Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress who attended the screening, “It provides real ammunition for cruelty,” especially for the film’s target audience of adolescent males.

The film brings up some pretty powerful questions.  What do we as a society find funny and why?   Is there a line between humor and cruelty?  Is there an aspect of superiority that plays into making us laugh at certain situations?

There is sure a lot of publicity being generated around this film and most of it stems from the language they choose to use about a character played with an intellectual disability.  Words are pretty powerful, that’s for sure, but so is our pocketbook.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Deidre  |  August 21, 2008 at 4:17 PM

    That is so true-words are POWERFUL. I get into many arguements about the importance of person first language. People need to realize that when you say the disability first such as “the Down’s kid”, you visualize Down Syndrome not a child. So it is important to say a child who has Down Syndrome. Or better yet, why do we even need to say Down Syndrome?

  • 2. movie buff  |  August 26, 2008 at 9:32 PM

    Ben Stiller would interpret the offenses of any special interest group as a compliment


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August 2008


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