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In Your Own Words

By Liz Wolford

We are so excited to offer this new feature of the e-Beat! On a quarterly basis we will be sharing articles written by our e-Buddies participants.

If you would like your article to appear in future issues of the e-Beat, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Tropic Thunder Dilemma
By Adam Hays

"Your name is Adam. You are a person first and have a disability second," a friend once told me during a ride home in the car. Having disabilities is not easy to deal with sometimes growing up when people are name-calling you constantly. A group of moviemakers do not think about this issue when creating the movie Tropic Thunder. The movie uses a word that is hurtful to many people with intellectual disabilities: Retard.

Ben Stiller, a comedian acting in several films such as Meet the Parents and the animated film Madagascar, directed and acted in this film for people to laugh. Alongside his fellow co-stars, Jack Black, and Robert Downey, Jr., he did not realize his film is hurting the way people with intellectual disabilities are trying to earn their respect by society today. Stiller's character, Tugg Speedman, was an actor in a fake film named "Simple Jack" and in a scene during Tropic Thunder, an actor explains to Speedman he went "full-retard". Throughout the scene the R-word is used many, many more times to describe the situation of his character in the fake movie.

People with intellectual disabilities are taunted by their peers today because of "being different" and while it is trying to be funny, using the R-word in the movie will only give it more power to those in the public who don't understand that we are no different than them. What we want is to show the world that a person with disabilities is able to do almost anything anyone else can without being teased about our physical or mental features. I have an intellectual disability, but I have done so much in my life that people change their attitude quickly about me, once I tell them my achievements I've made already. How many people can say they have been able to obtain their Drivers License, Eagle Scout Award, or even get their Associate Degree in College? I am able to show that any word used against me will not rip apart what I feel about myself and make me sad.

To be fair, this is a movie that is supposed to be a comedy and its purpose is to make people laugh. If a person does not like the movie, it should be their choice of whether they want to see it or not. But, in their decision, they should realize that this movie could influence and change the way the public views people with intellectual disabilities after using the word "retard" in a humiliating way. Please think before you use any word to describe a person, even if it is unintentional. It could do more harm then help the person to feel better about their self. In conclusion, Tropic Thunder may be a satire to make others laugh, but it is showing that it is okay to laugh at the expense of someone with a developmental disability instead of with that person.

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