This just in: I have an interview with our local CBS affiliate this morning...I'll post on that later.
Unfortunately, this horrible movie is hitting screens today, but not without a ton of negative publicity -- as a former publicist, I usually say, "any press is good press", but in this context, I'd like to think that although Ben Stiller's movie will pull in millions at the box office, it we will start a dialog with Paramount/Dreamworks and other studios. Studios now know that disability groups are watching and active and will take them to task for any future movies that don't consult our community before using derogatory, slanderous material poking fun at one group in the name of comedy. Johnny Knoxville's "The Ringer" about a guy who poses as a Special Olympics athlete to make quick cash, not only consulted with Special Olympics, but had the organization's endorsement -- it was done in good taste and actually depicted the athletes as witty and nothing to be "afraid" of. The bottom line is if one group laughs at the expense of another, it's not funny, it's humiliation.
Here's the thing...the critics who are calling it "the funniest movie of the summer" are probably right - and all this talk about the jokes making fun of actors who play the mentally challenged in an attempt at Oscar, NOT at the disabled themselves need to get that the millions who will see this "satire" 1) don't know what "satire" IS, and 2) won't "get" that it's not poking fun at people with disabilities.
I'm proud to say many moms and dads on my chat board, downsyn.com, have landed interviews on their local stations, written letters to the editor, and blogged about it so their friends and family are aware of this movie and help support the boycott. My dear friend, Mike, wrote a letter to the editor to the Seattle PI (thanks, Mike!).
Here is some of my favorite coverage of the topic: a clip from the protest at the movie's premiere from CNN, a byline by Tim Shriver, Executive Director of Special Olympics in the Washington Post, and an opinion piece from a disabilities professor at the University of Illinois on NPR.
Sadly, we now wait to see how long it takes for some bully to coin the phrase "full retard" at the local playground. I hope it's not done within ear shot of me or my husband...
For the latest, check out Patricia Bauer's blog.