NYSARC, Inc., the nation’s largest family based non-profit agency representing persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities criticized the Dreamworks film “Tropic Thunder” for fostering and encouraging negative stereotypes of persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
The Organization’s President, Katharine Wilson Conroy, stated that “the film goes out of its way to encourage the use of demeaning characterizations of persons with intellectual disabilities. ARC Chapters and its families across New York State have worked for years to help the people they serve realize their rightful place as fully participating members of their community.”
Ms. Conroy further stated “to do this they have had to overcome centuries of culturally ingrained abuse, mistreatment and oppression. Dreamworks ignores this reality. It shows utter contempt for the fact that negative language leads to negative action, not only in the form of rejecting persons with intellectual disabilities but providing an excuse to use them as objects of physical and emotional abuse and ridicule.”
NYSARC’s executive director, Marc N. Brandt, stated that the film “uses the word `retard,’ as if it were harmless amusement and good fun. For the people, parents and families we serve, it is anything but that. We should all remember that similar terms have been used to describe other oppressed persons, devaluing them, making them less than human in the eyes of their fellow citizens and making it all too easy to segregate, exclude, ridicule and, yes, beat and lynch them.”
Dehumanizing people not only devalues them but also cheapens, denigrates and devalues the entire society we live in.”
Ms. Conroy noted that “we are not against free speech rather we are for responsible speech. The images and characterizations employed in Tropic Thunder are oblivious to hundreds of years of the lessons we should have learned about the consequences of demeaning and belittling treatment of specific groups of people.”
NYSARC, Inc. is calling on the motion picture industry, the executives of Dreamworks and everyone associated with this film to put compassion rather than profit first by delaying the release of this film and removing its offensive and harmful material.