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The Descendants Movie PosterMy wife and I don’t get out to see many movies. With a two and a half year-old, and a second baby due this week, a 100 year-old house that is an on-going fixer upper and two full-time jobs between us, our free time as a couple is limited. Even with a little free time, it is rare that we choose to use it to go see a movie. Yet, while hearing so many wonderful reviews and comments about “The Descendants” it has been in my head that I want to make an effort to get to the theater and see this movie. I love George Clooney. I love Alexander Payne’s previous films like “Sideways” and “About Schmidt.” And I love intelligent stories about real human beings and real emotion.

I imagine there are many people whose situation mirrors mine in both limited free time and adulation of the artists I mentioned. This is why I feel compelled to share the following disclaimer to the families of Special Olympics athletes – if hearing the word “retarded” used several times in a gratuitous joke within a movie is something that is going to ruin a night out for you, save your time and heartache and do not see “The Descendants.” Your precious free time is too valuable to be surprised with disappointment and hurt in the two hours you looked so forward to and coordinated so hard to make happen. See or do something else.

I’m happy to put forth the disclaimer that I am amongst the lucky ones who did not see the movie with great anticipation only to be crushed at the multiple uses of the R-word. But our blogger friend and special needs mom Jenny Dawn did see it, and she shared her firsthand experience on her blog. She also shared a snippet of manuscript text from the novel of the same name from which the screenplay was adapted. I simply want to pay it forward to save other families the hurt Jenny, and no doubt many others, experienced.

Below is Jenny’s brief paraphrase of the movie’s dialogue:

Clooney’s character Matt says, “You are so retarded.”
Nick Krause’s character Sid replies, “That’s not nice.  I have a retarded brother.”
Matt looks shocked.
Sid goes on to say, “I’m just kidding. I don’t have a retarded brother. Sometimes when old people and retarded people are slow I just want to make them hurry up.”

And here is the dialogue she pulled from the novel of the same name with the first person voice belonging to Clooney’s character, Matt King:

I face my daughter, “You know you’re dating a complete retard. You know that, don’t you?”
“My brother’s retarded, man.” Sid says. “Don’t use it in a derogatory way.”
“Oh.” I don’t say anything more hoping he’ll interpret my silence as an apology.
“Psych,” he says and now kicks the back of my seat. “I don’t have a retarded brother!” His little trick is giving him a great amount of amusement. “Speaking of the retarded,” he says, “do you ever feel bad for wishing a retarded person or an old person or a disabled person would hurry up? Sometimes I wait for them to cross the street and I’m like, ‘Come on already!’ but then I feel bad.

So consider yourself fairly warned about the movie. If you’d like to read on about what sort of action you can take in our continued battle against the R-word, please read on!

Once I became aware of this latest instance of the R-word being used in our mainstream culture, my job calls for me to look into the occurrence and help figure out a course of action in how the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign can help empower people to take action. Once I started looking under the hood at the film and the people involved, I’m not sure if I became more or less discouraged about what our chances are of being heard by anyone who will have the guts to stand up and make a difference.  Maybe you can help me decide.

Let’s start with the big fish, The Clooney Machine. This film is another Oscar vehicle for him, he is beloved my millions and by all accounts a pretty good dude who is very socially conscious.

The other actor who uses the R-word in the film is 19 year-old Nick Krause who seems to be nothing more than a talented young actor trying to make a name for himself.

The primary driver of this movie is Alexander Payne. He wrote it, directed it and produced it under his LLC, Ad Hominem Enterprises. When I read about Payne, he sounds like a pretty good dude too. I love how big of an advocate he is for what he calls “literate movies.” Take this quote, “There is an audience out there for literate films – slower, more observant, more human films, and they deserve to be made.” Amen! And this nugget, “It’s my hope that we’re getting into an era where the value of a film is based on its proximity to real life rather than its distance from it.” Preach on!

There are even a couple of six degrees of separation connections between Special Olympics and Payne. For example, he was born in and went to high school in Omaha, Nebraska and will often set his films in and around the area. Well, our 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games were in Lincoln, Nebraska and coincided with a huge youth activation summit and education conference in Omaha. Also, Payne (birth name Alexander Constantine Papadopoulos) is Greek. We just held an incredibly successful World Games in Athens this year.

Payne even stands up for the little guy. He is, according to IMDB.com, known to often cast real people in minor roles – an actual policeman playing a policeman, an actual restaurant server playing a server and an actual teacher playing a teacher. Cool, right?

One thing that actually has me a little encouraged is a quote from Payne which I believe shows that if we can actually make him aware of the hurtful nature of the R-word and why it isolates and hurts people with intellectual disabilities and those that love them, that he’d get it right away. In an acceptance speech Payne once said, “I think there may be a problem with a world in which making small, human and humorous films is ‘an achievement.’ It should be the norm.” To me, a parallel is easily drawn there to the daily struggles of people with intellectual disabilities fighting to be accepted and included.

Given the chance to speak to Payne I’d like to let him know that I think there may be a problem with a world in which acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities is celebrated as an achievement. It should be the norm. The continued perpetration of the R-word as a punchline in popular culture prevents this from becoming reality because it allows negative stereotypes and perceptions of those with special needs to persist.

The final entity I’ll put into play here is an immense disappointment with Fox Searchlight, the theatrical distributor of the film in the United States. Fox, in general, has been a terrific partner in our efforts to battle the R-word. A couple of years ago Fox Filmed Entertainment was extremely compassionate and reactive when we raised objections to the repeated use of the R-word in a movie called “Miss March.” They went so far as to remove the word from the DVD release of the film. The FX Network added the R-word as one of only three words on their not fit for broadcast list, something Louis C.K. brought to light though sadly he wants to say the word. This means that if you happen to come across a replay of “Tropic Thunder” on FX, you won’t hear even one of the 17 times the movie used the R-word. Bravo! Recently, the Fox Network was even a partner in helping us get our “Not Acceptable” PSA on the air, they aired it during the season 2 finale of “Glee”! So we have great respect for the working relationship in which Fox has supported our efforts. Sadly, in this particular instance, someone erred.

The truth of the matter is, nowadays when the R-word shows up in movies like “The Descendants” there isn’t one person to blame, or to lash out against. That would be too easy. And fixable. There is always plenty of blame to go around if you like to play that game. I’ll even indulge you for a second in doing so by taking a look at this instance’s timeline from a broad distance.

The book on which the movie is based (and contained the original R-word dialogue) was published in 2008, meaning it was written a bit before then and definitely before the R-word hit the national media around the protests of “Tropic Thunder” in August of 2008. Fast forward three years and suffice to say the profile of the R-word has risen enough to make waves with a national public service announcement and compel someone as prominent as LeBron James to apologize for using it during a post game press conference of the NBA Finals. Yet in between those bookends of events a cerebral writer/director/producer who revels in telling the story of the common struggling man adapted the screenplay and vetted it multiple times with a team of writers, then one of the most philanthropic megastars of our time read the script without raising any red flags or voicing concerns, and lastly a major distribution company with a history of helping elevate the profile of this very cause saw no issue with pushing this out to the big screen.

My conclusion? We, as a community, are not yet doing our jobs well enough.

It sure feels like we’re doing a lot. It takes a lot every time you stop and interrupt someone who uses the R-word in front of you and correct them, then educate them. That’s exhausting in and of itself. It takes a lot to continue to report daily the hundreds of groups on Facebook who mock people with intellectual disabilities, the R-word being their go-to epithet while few understand why it is hate speech and discriminatory. Heck, it takes a lot to have read through this entire post!

None of it is enough, yet. Dialogue like this still being commonplace in pop culture makes this self-evident. We have to keep doing more. We have to keep sharing links. We have to keep writing to people who use the word and asking them to both stop and speak out and influence others to stop. We have to keep an understanding and open mind that most people simply don’t know about the hurt, the isolation, the struggle inherent with the R-word. We have to keep telling the story of why the R-word hurts our children, our siblings, our friends, our classmates, our colleagues, our neighbors who have special needs. People do listen. People do hear when you speak. So keep speaking. Raise the volume.

I think the important thing to understand in all of this is that our efforts shouldn’t be focused on vilifying any one person or corporate entity. Let’s not lose focus by playing a name game of Gigantic Celebrity said the R-word, let’s get him!! I think our movement has evolved well beyond this course of action and we need to focus energies on education and raising the right kind of awareness, not awareness for awareness sake. That said, Gigantic Celebrity or corporate entity should always be held accountable. My suggestion is simply that we are responsible in our call for accountability.

Our goals should be bigger than apologies. Our goals should include challenging R-word “offenders” to sit down and get to know someone with an intellectual disability. They should include legitimate seats for leaders in the intellectual disability community at influential tables alongside every other major player in entertainment, government and business.  They should include seamless inclusion in mainstream pop culture vehicles for actors and performers with intellectual disabilities.  These are the types of attitude changing goals we need to focus on in order to make an impact that will effect change over the coming years.

So what are some of actions you can take?

You can share this blog post on Facebook and Twitter.

You can visit another blogger friend Anna Theurer who is compiling contact info for Payne, Clooney and others at the bottom of her blog post and write letters or pick up the phone and express your feelings to them and use some of the goals above to challenge them to do better.

You can use the resources available on the R-word website to help you take action.

You can share any number of first hand video pleas to stop using the R-word, like this one, maybe this one, or even this one for those friends who “just don’t get it.”

You can visit our R-word resources page to find more helpful tips and materials to hold a pledge drive.

Simply put, the time for reading and passively moving on, hoping the issue will fix itself is over. You, me, WE, need to ACT.

54 thoughts on “A fair warning before you see “The Descendants”

  1. Sorry if someone already posted a comment about this, but I just saw the movie, and the only thing I want to add is that I think it should be precised that the dialogue recalled by Jenny at the beginning of your article is not the actual dialogue. For that scene, the dialogue is extracted word-for-word from the book, so it corresponds to the dialogue you cite right beneath it. That might be important to notice because the repetition of “I feel bad” in that teen’s mouth gives to his character a feeling of guilt that cannot be left out. We clearly picture the stupid teen not aware of the importance of words and the real meaning of what he is saying. Of course this does not justify his words and I think you article is great for insisting on that particular point. Also, the fight against the use of the R-word is not the point of the movie, which might explain why they did not go on about it or made a moral point about not using it. But I think you’re right, nothing should be left out, each word counts, and they could definitely have used a different joke to help define that character of Sid, who is obviously not very tactful and often says inappropriate things.

  2. Pingback: Movie Monday- Why I Won’t Be Watching The Descendants | Lay off the books

  3. I’m glad they’re starting to censor the R-Word on TV broadcasts of movies. It will help make a strong impact, that the R-Word is no less offensive than other slurs censored on TV.

    • You are not going to see a movie because they make a “retard” joke. So then let’s get this right, it’s ok to make gay jokes, fat jokes, jokes about people who are in fatal accidents and die, people in wheel chairs, or even watch movies because they have people killing, raping, and torturing others, the mistreatment of animals, the corruption of our youth with overly sexual innuendos in kids movies but it’s not ok to say a retard joke in the SCRIPTING of a movie, that’s bd but everything else is good so long it doesn’t make fun of the retarded, sorry let me get pc again the mentally challenged?! GET OVER yourselves! There is more wrong with this world BECAUSE of people like you than there is right with it you self-centered, narcissistic, soap box hypocrites! If it wasn’t for people like you, today’s children wouldn’t be so inconsiderate to say please, or thank you, or excuse me. It’s a MOVIE, no one should personally give a flying f@#k what it contains since IT IS NOT REAL! Let’s get mad at the wicked witch for sending the flying monkey’s after Dorothy, how dare she abuse animals in such a manner. Hope you all have fun with your politically ran lives, at least my children will know the true meaning of integrity and honor.

      • It’s OK to make jokes about people who can understand the joke and defend themselves. The one fear that all parents with intellectually disabled children share is the fear that somebody is going to call their child a “retard.” When the word is used in successful commercial movies or television, it legitimizes the word’s use, so children and young adults feel they can use it with impunity. Good comedians and writers don’t need to use the word to get laughs. I hope that the “true meaning of integrity and honor” you teach your children includes not saying hurtful things about people who, through no fault of their own, can’t defend themselves.

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  5. Well, I won’t be seeing this movie! What intrigues me is the difference between the book version and that of the movie. If the movie had used the dialogue used in the book, which uses the word but also displays regret over the negative feelings the character feels when encountering a person with disabilities, I would not find it offensive. The first character uses it very offensively (once) and the next points out that it is an archaic descriptor for an intellectually disabled person. If anything, this “lesson” could have been improved in the movie version and Hollywood could be lauded. Instead, it was taken the other direction and was made more offensive and seems to condone use of the word in the movie version. Sad.

    • But what Jenny recalls is not what is actually said in the movie! The film does use the book’s dialogue, which as you say, makes it much less offensive!

  6. I appreciate the warning and it seems that language was inappropriate and added no artistic value to the film. That being said I would be hesitant to call out the book. Mainstream movies should be more accountable but authors are free to use the words they want and if you don’t like it don’t read it. There was a country in the 1940s that was a strong supporter of censoring books and we should be careful we don’t accidently follow in their footsteps under the guise of doing a good thing.

  7. Well, I certainly hit a cord with you…please look internally before you spit at others your hatred. The reality is, all people are asking is that people be treated like people…if I met you tomorrow I would not address you as ‘ignorant’ so why would you address someone with a disablity as ‘r’. Humankindness should be practiced to all by all…enough said.

  8. I am ambivalent about this campaign because of cases like this where it seems the outrage is misplaced. You certainly have the right to call attention to this kind of thing, and I do respect the fact that you’re warning people who may be offended by this word. And in general I think it’s a worthwhile campaign – it’s very problematic the way that the ‘r-word’ gets used so casually on lowbrow television and in film, and it’s sad how this leads to children rattling it off constantly as an all-purpose term of opprobrium.

    But really, isn’t calling for some kind of organized complaint campaign against this movie a bit extreme? This is a fictional story. Characters in fictional stories are not always depicted as idealized paragons of virtue. They don’t always set a good example. Sometimes by putting offensive words in the mouth of a character, a writer or director is deliberately trying to bring out a darker aspect of their personality. This can be so even when a character is otherwise likeable, funny, or endearing – it’s known as narrative complexity, something so sadly lacking in most Hollywood films. And the usage of the word here seems to be adapted from the novel. The director and actors are just trying to interpret a text in an interesting and somewhat faithful way, and I’m positive that none of them have any intention of endorsing this word’s continued usage.

    I’m trying to word this carefully, because I do agree with the substance of your campaign, and I understand that people could be offended by this segment of the film. But I’m also very frustrated with this post, and I want to emphasize the importance of artistic freedom and freedom of thought. Not everyone is similarly offended by the very occurrence of certain words, and most adults are perfectly fine with watching films containing offensive language directed towards various social groups. It’s not that the film’s creators or audiences accept or would use this language themselves, it’s a matter of distinguishing between the statements of fictional characters, and the real beliefs of the actors and directors who give voice to them.

    It’s great that you are warning people who may be offended about this, so that they can choose whether or not to see the film, voting with their wallets so to speak. But I think trying to roll this in to a broader campaign of activism is misguided. You’re throwing your lot in with those who want to eliminate the ‘N-word’ from Huck Finn, and ultimately you seem to be implying that all narratives must be held to some extremely rigid standard of political correctness. That said, I do find that some films make use of the word in such an egregious, repetitive, and demaning way that they indicate a callous ignorance on the part of their creators – like, of course, Tropic Thunder. In the end I think your activism and outrage is best directed toward cases like those, and I suggest taking into consideration the narrative complexity and artistic merit of a work before calling for action against the creators.

    • Ali,

      I can understand what you’re saying about the value of artistic freedom. There are certainly times when artistic freedom is essential to communicate the essence of a character. However, that is not the case here. The use of the r word here did not, in my opinion, help us understand the characters any better. The use of the word only served to portray two characters making a joke, and that definitely could have been done without using that word. What we want, is for people to stop using that type of language and to stop thinking it’s funny. If the word was used to showcase a character’s ignorance, then I could see your point, but it wasn’t, and the dialogue added nothing to the film.

      • Kim,
        I have agreed with almost everything I have read on this blog, and about the movie, until one of the statements you made. “What we want, is for people to stop using that type of language and to stop thinking it’s funny.” Human nature is a cruel thing, and going against one movie like this is going to do nothing about a generation where the “R-word” is used so freely. You could take the word out of every publicly viewed form of media and the people who use it and find it funny are still going to continue to use it, wether others want them to or not. By forcing your (and many, including my own) way of thinking down someone else’s throat, you are going to do nothing but make them use, and abuse, it even more.
        Don’t take me wrong, I would love to see the use of the R-word removed from our daily lives but by forcing it upon the society as a whole, you are going to make people turn to the word even more, as a “forbidden fruit.”
        That’s my thought on it, and if I’m wrong, I would love for someone to correct me

    • Hi Ali,
      Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful reply. You are correct that the crux of this post was to simply forward along information about the use of the R-word in this film so people who would be upset by its’ use can choose to avoid the film, or not.
      It was not my intent by any means to put this film on the level of Tropic Thunder. I think most would agree that there is no need to protest this film on the basis of the use of the R-word here the way many of us protested Tropic Thunder.
      But I do think it is important to provide people who are compelled to act ways in which to act. The individual can decide what course of action to take from that information. That is what I was hoping to accomplish through the second half of the post – providing actionable options for those inclined to act so that energy and momentum doesn’t dissipate into a cloud of silent complacency. Hope that helps to clarify.
      Best,
      Ryan

  9. Pingback: More on the “r-word” « Thought Snax

  10. It’s nice that so many people are not going to call one another “retards” any more. This was never acceptable because it made an epithet out of a mere description or diagnosis of someone else. Do you understand? Many retarded people can read. They can read your blog. They have been taught to tell people that they are not stupid, they are retarded–and they say it with pride. Now you are making an “unprintable” epithet out of the word that is used to define and describe an entire set of people–and feeling righteous doing it.

    • I’ve never once in my 25 years within the world of working and living with people with disabilities ever once heard someone say…call me ‘r’. Give me a break.

  11. What word do you suggest that we use for people that have an IQ below 70? Think of a new PC word and that will be the next teenage insult. DD (developmentally disabled) has been an immature joke for years. I haven’t seen the movie but these discussions make me want to crawl out of my skin!
    I have a lot of friends that are mentally retarded and they are not ashamed of it. There is nothing wrong with it. They are not afraid of the “R” word until someone tells them that they should be. Maybe parents and family members of retarded children are ashamed of them and do not like it being brought up when they are trying to forget their troubles at the movies. You should really avoid movies all together and probably not leave the house because you will probably get offended.
    Does anyone remember freedom of speech? I’m offended by most of these posts and yet I don’t feel I have the right to sensor any of you.

    • We recommend people-first language: a person with an intellectual disability. We’re not trying to censor; we’re trying to change the frame in which people view people with disabilities. Hearing the r-word as a punchline/insult/joke perpetuates stereotypes.

    • As a parent of someone with a disabilities, I’m offended that you think because I want my daughter to be called a person and not ‘r’ I’m ashamed of her…how about treating her just like everyone else?

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  14. Ryan– thank you for sharing my post about The Descendants(http://jendawnscowgirlup.blogspot.com/2011/11/not-again-george-clooney-and-r-word.html). We are in the same boat. Two little ones– time is precious. We love Clooney (usually) and enjoyed Sideways so we were excited to see this as movies are our means of escape. The Change Up was such a brutal movie to see (http://jendawnscowgirlup.blogspot.com/2011/08/dear-hollywood-get-grip.html) and then I was really enjoying this movie when the exchange using the R-word popped up right in the middle. I was heartbroken, disappointed and annoyed. We need a unified voice like GLAAD– we need a watchdog group that provides immediate responses and asks for public apologies from stars who use the R word.

    We see a lot of movies and I will continue to blog and spread the word of every movie I see that uses the R word. It is a word used only in a hateful manner now and individuals who have special needs should be used as a punch line.

    Your post and Anna’s information are awesome! Take care– Jen

    • Thanks to you for a great recap and sharing your firsthand experience. Sadly often times its tough to spread the word on stuff like this because someone actually has to see the material and be able to recap it accurately, so yours and Anna’s posts were terrific.

  15. Ryan, Thank you so much for your post. When the movie the Change Up came out I spoke out on multiple sites about the use of the R-Word and encouraged others to think about whether they wanted to see a movie which supported the use of the word. I work for an Adapted Recreation department that offers a variety of programs for persons with different abilities. I also have a daughter with Autism and ID. I can tell you first hand about the pain and damage to self esteem the program participants have expressed to me when they are made fun of or called names. These participants are some of the most courageous and classy people I know. Imagine a life where you are always considered less than or the butt of a joke, that they move ahead through this and lead productive lives as part of the community says so much about these individuals. I believe that we need to continue to address individual movies but I also think the time has come to step up the game.

    I would like to issue a challenge: Can Special Olympics consider hosting a one or two day event that could be the start of a positive dialogue with the heads or high level people at CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Disney, perhaps HBO and several large movie studios. We could ask key celebrities that currently support the R-Word campaign to be there as well as experienced advocates for persons with disabilties. The point here is to start a dialog about appropriate respectful speech at the highest level where money making decisions get made. Review People First Language, hammer out goals and perhaps standards of respect that make sense in movies and TV shows. I believe this would be in the best interest of the above parties. .

    It is not in the best interest of film and movie studios, Disney, writers or actors etc… to spend lots of money on a film/TV series that will then be blogged about as offensive possibly impacting the films bottom line. It is not rocket science to have people with different abilities or advocates be part of movie/TV script review or screenings. I feel there must be some very common sense ways to review things at a beginning level of writing/production to make sure persons are spoken about in a respectful way. I strongly believe that within the movie/TV community there are some very good hearted people that are ripe for education about the R-Word and people with different abilities. This event/conference could be win/win for everbody. We all learn something and the studio’s can feel more confident about the product they put out making money. What do you think Ryan? Need a volunteer ? I just finished a collaboration in which the Loudoun County Library System in conjunction with the Disability Services Board of Loudoun teamed together to put on an entire month of Disability Related programs and entertainment to celebrate October being Disability Awareness Month. The library offered films(Blindsight), readings, plays, educational events and a personal appearance by Jessie Billauer from the LIfe Rolls On Foundation.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on starting a positive dialog where the buck stops. Respectfully, Rowena Beatty

  16. Ryan,
    Great post! (plus many thanks for linking my blog in there:) We have a long ways to go, but I know that there are so many of us who feel the same way and who will speak out. Hopefully, soon, we will be heard and changes in Hollywood (and in books, etc) will be made. As you said “our goals should be bigger than apologies”. Thanks for the wonderful, informative post.

    • Thanks Anna. Appreciate you and Jenny bringing this to light as we had not seen the movie yet. The more of us working on and talking about this the better!

  17. i will not go see this movie or any movie that uses the “R” word nor will i promote any movie or support any actress/actor that is willing to take on a role that uses this word in the script. when will people learn that the use of this word is not being tolerated and we will protest and boycott any person.thing or whatever that finds the use of this word ok.seriously people how ignorant can you be.idont care if your a million dollar actor or just an average joe its wrong to use this word its not cute,i will always advocate for the end the use of the r word campaign.boo to hollywood

  18. Ryan,

    How do we reach Mr. Clooney and get his feelings and thoughts on this? Only when we meet these issues head on with the stars themselves will we get real results and not just forced apologies. Just my opinion. I would love for Mr. Clooney to watch the movie with my daughter and then look her in the eyes as her condition is used as a cheap punchline. I look forward to your input.

    Respectfully,

    Jason Strickland

    • same here or be sitting next to my oldest daughter who has taken the role of amie’s protector since day one(amie is my 15 with ds) ashley my oldest is very blunt and outspoken when it comes to the use of the r word she will tell anyone anyplace what she thinks about this word.just saying

    • Hi Jason and Missy, thanks for reading and your desire to act. The best way we know how to reach him now is found via Anna’s blog where she has some contact info posted for Clooney and Payne. You can scroll to the bottom of this link:
      http://ellietheurer.blogspot.com/2011/11/r-word-descendants-and-george-clooney.html
      and I pasted it below:

      Director & Writer:
      Alexander Payne
      William Morris Agency
      1 William Morris Place
      Beverly Hills, CA 90212

      George Clooney:
      George Clooney Management
      Smoke House
      4000 Warner Boulevard
      Building 15
      Burbank, CA 91522
      (818) 954-4840

      If we get anything better we’ll be sure to update!

  19. Thank you so much for this! I have so many people around me that will use that word in a joking meaning and I am so bothered by it. I have now shared this story and hope that they read it!

  20. Why is it that Hollywood glorifies stupidity as an attractive characteristic for women (i.e., the dumb, totally hot blonde), and at the same time, degrades developmentally delayed people as the butt of jokes and entire plots (i.e., “Dumb and Dumber,” “Jackass,” etc.). It’s not just use of the “r” word; it’s a whole culture that thinks being stupid is funny and that it’s therefore acceptable to make fun of people who appear to embody it.

  21. Thanks for letting us know. The only power we have as Americans is our pocketbook. Maybe they will realize that we are not superficial as the film industry wants us to be.

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  23. Thank you!!! It truly would have ruined my week, to see that. I am called the R word often because of my physical disabilities, but also worked w/people w/disabilities. I have a great respect for them, & when a diagnosis is used like it is, it feels like a knife through my heart.

  24. Um. He’s the Senior Manager of Social Media for the Special Olympics. This IS his job.

    Well done Ryan. Thank you. I was unsure about this movie to begin with, but now I won’t see it at all.

  25. If Hollywood can create a campaign to stop the use of “that’s gay” then why can’t they get on board with stopping the use of the “R-word”? Sad but true, it might make a difference because when they talk, it gets more attention from young people.

    • Absolutely Jen. Progress has been slow but steady. Getting the “Not Acceptable” PSA on the air was great, and we need to press more networks to follow FX and integrate the R-word along the same lines as other epithets in their broadcast standards. Writers are going to write what they are allowed. We’ll keep working if you will!

    • @advocate – I’m not known for brevity. I gave you the ‘fair warning’ in three paragraphs and said you could read on if you wanted to take action! :)

      Also, it’s a very personal issue to many people and deserves thought. As for what I do all day? That’d be the part where I said part of my job is to do exactly this.

      Too many people have experienced the heart-sinking feeling of being blindsided by the R-word in a movie, TV show, stand-up comedy act, or other places in which they are expecting to relax and escape from the world for a little bit. If our work can help spread awareness and save some folks the experience of that blindsided heartbreak, I don’t mind being a little wordy.

      Many thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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