Special Education Tips

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When will Hollywood understand that it's not acceptable to bash individuals with disabilities?

August 18, 2011

Re: Bigotry for laughs

Dear Hollywood,

     When will you understand that it’s not acceptable to bash individuals with intellectual disabilities? Negative attitudes and inaccurate public perceptions are the real barriers to individuals with cognitive challenges, not the disabilities themselves.

     In the movie “Change Up,” Mitch (played by Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (played by Jason Bateman) are best friends. One night they wish for each other’s life; then in the morning they find themselves in the other’s body. Mitch looks at “his” twins and says, “Why aren’t they talking – what are they retarded?” Then later he comments that one baby looks “Downsy.”

     “Some in Hollywood just don’t seem to get it. This kind of language is hurtful to so many who sit in the theaters thinking they are in store for entertainment, not insult,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc of the United States.

     The National Down Syndrome Society writes that, “There are more than 400,000 people living in the United States with Down syndrome. They attend school, make friends, find work, get involved in community activities, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society. People with Down syndrome have the same emotions and needs as everyone else, and they deserve the same respect and opportunities that we all expect.”

     David Tolleson, Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress writes that "Universal has engaged in bigotry for laughs.”

     Listen, Hollywood, you need to stop having fun at the expense of the individuals in our communities who happen to have different abilities than you. The movie is already on the big screen, larger than life, taunting individuals with disabilities. I ask that you stop showing this movie. I ask that you take the offensive words out of any upcoming DVDs. I ask that  you to please commit to the end of mocking the good people who are living with Down syndrome and other cognitive disabilities.

Very truly yours,

Anne Treimanis
Attorney at Law
Practice limited to fighting discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head