It is never-ending. Beyond the day-to-day issues that parents of kids with intellectual disabilities face, we have to put up with Hollywood’s disrespectful portrayal of those with disabilities. We also have to put up with our family members being the target of these comedian and media bullies. I did say bullies because if a student at my daughter’s middle school singled her or any other student out and called them the r-word or said, “You look a little downsy,” they would go visit the principal and would be written up for bullying. The r-word is the equivalent of a racial slur and there is a no tolerance policy in our school system. Those are the exact words used in this weekend’s blockbuster “The Change Up.” My husband and I saw “Larry Crowne” this weekend. I love Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. I thought the movie was pretty good but for their need to use the r-word.” I understand the r-word is also used in “Friends with Benefits.” The USA Network has a show that Jonathan and I have watched called “In Plain Sight.” We really like the show but we stopped watching for a while because they have used the r-word on more than one occasion. We wrote. We protested. We received no response. Then, we started watching again. We thought that maybe there had been change. No r-word slurs but in an episode a few weeks ago, they referred to the “short bus.” These are but a handful of examples of the degradationn and devaluation of individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities and serve to further perpetrate negative stereotypes.
Here’s what I just don’t get: What is the fun in this? What is fun about mocking and degrading people with intellectual disabilities? Making fun of people who really can’t defend themselves? Why is there joy and laughter in looking at my daughter who had nothing to do with her extra chromosome and making fun of her? Why is it still okay to make fun of those with intellectual disabilities? Someone, please explain this to me?
One of my favorite blogs is Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords. Today, he addresses this subject. Please take a look.
Also, the National Down Syndrome Society has addresses and sample letters to the screenwriters, directors and producers of “The Change Up.” If you are so inclined, please see this link NDSS Responds to “The Change Up” and send your thoughts to these same people.