Last night I went to see one of the most popular movies in the country. It was “The Hangover”, and I am afraid I have a bit of a bone to pick with it. I am sure some will see it as an over reaction, but I feel very strongly about what I am about to write and hope that it atleast gets some people thinking.
My whole life I have gone through what anyone with a disorder or handicap goes through. That is to say an endless stream of stupidity and ignorance shown towards us that is generally due to a lack of understanding on the part of the person saying or doing whatever demeaning act they may be doing. It is also not helped by our forms of entertainment that help perpetuate these horribly inaccurate stereotypes.
That brings me to my complaint. I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum.
I was enjoying the movie until they get to a scene in which they are discussing card counting and how they could win alot of money doing it if they didn’t get caught. It is at this point that one of the characters brings up Rainman and says, in so many words, that he was able to do it and he was a retard. That line right there made me lose all interest in the movie. I will say that the movie tried to redeem itself by re-enacting the casino scene from Rainman pretty much to the T. It wasn’t much but it did atleast imply that Savant Autistics are very intelligent. However this was not enough for me.
For one thing, I do not believe in the use of the word “retard” when it is being used to describe people with Autism. It is incredibly inaccurate when you take into consideration that most autistic people are incredibly intelligent, they simply lack a way to communicate it. I find this word to be very outdated and incredibly cruel when said to anyone, whether in a “joking” manner or not.
What makes me even more angry is the fact that I have a nephew who is Autistic and love very dearly, and the thought of people thinking of Autistics as “retards” makes me worry even more about him. I went through my life dealing with people who would rather believe untrue things about my own disorder, I certaintly do not want him to suffer from someone elses stupidity.
It really disturbs me because there are alot of people who are happy in their ignorance and will accept what is said in the movie as fact. This is not acceptable in any way shape or form. Hollywood should be shaking it’s head in shame at even allowing such a thing to be said and shown, especially when you consider how many actors and actresses either support or have a child with Autism or advocate on its behalf. If ever there was a place were some real advocacy could be done for ALL people with disorders, it is Hollywood. Instead they would rather make movies like this one that ridicule and perpetuate negative stereotypes.
Now, I am not going to tell you not to see the movie, really I won’t. I am simply asking that when or if you do, that you realize that Rainman, both the fictional and the real one, as well as, other Autistics, are not “retarded”. In fact, many of them know more about what is going on around them than most would give them credit for. If you do not believe me, I challenge you to do some research on the real Rainman, Kim Peek, and just listen to what he has to say and hear about some of the things he has done. Anyone who can read one page of a book with one eye and the other page with the other eye and commit to memory EVERYTHING he just read, after ONE reading, is clearly NOT “retarded”.
I am curious, do you believe that Hollywood perpetuates these negative stereotypes, and if so do you think that they should stop? If you don’t believe this, I would like to know why as well.
EDIT: I just want to edit this a bit and clear up a few things, as it seems that some people are missing the point of the post. I understand completely what the context of the scene was; to make the character look foolish. I am merely saying that while it might have been used in such a way, it is a double edged sword in that there are people who would assume, comedy or not, that Autism and Mental retardation are linked. Trust me, I have seen and dealt with people who believe this. I have noticed that the people who sympathize with this post are the ones who have or have delt with or raised a person with a handicap. Many people who do not have “issues” or handicaps of any kind, do not understand how hurtful a word such as “retard” is because they have never had it said to them in a cruel and hurtful manner. I wrote this post not because I am bitter or because I am angry at the movie industry, I grew up and learned to shrug off such comment. I wrote it because I have had fears, since the day he was diagnosed, that my nephew would one day have to deal with such horrible things being said to him. This may seem so trivial to some but to me it is not. This is why I write these posts and this is why I advocate for Autism Awareness and Tourette’s Syndrome Awareness, so that, hopefully, one day I won’t have to.