"I am playing with myself,
I am playing with the world's soul,
I am the dialogue between myself and el espiritu del mundo.
I change myself, I change the world."

Gloria AnzaldĂșa

13 August, 2008

Another Humorless Feminist Rant


Tropic Thunder opened in theaters today.

It is a satire of adventure/war movies and self important actors starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. What's not to like?

Plenty.

This morning, when I was watching Good Morning America and drinking my coffee, Ben Stiller assured me that the frequent repetition of words like "retarded" and "retard" are meant to make fun of actors, not intellectually challenged people. I suppose I'm just too tight assed to "get it," Ben. When you use the word retarded to make fun of people, you are not making fun of actors. Retarded means "slow development." It is comparable to nigger, kike, or faggot when used as an insult. It's not funny.

This is very much like the discussion we all had when Don Imus opened his big mouth one too many times. There are many people who are arguing that "political correctness" has robbed us of our sense of humor and made us a nation of uptight maiden aunts. After all, it is only satire. Don't you have a sense of humor?

As a matter of fact, I do have a sense of humor and it is often bawdy and silly. Have you ever read Chaucer? Nothing but scatological, sexual, and fart jokes. But making fun of intellectually challenged people is not funny, Ben. Making fun of college girls (calling them whores) is not funny Don.

Here's what I understand about satire. Satire is used to illuminate the faults of people in power and institutions of power. It is amusing when satirists make fun of the president or the congress or the church. That's why Jon Stewart is my secret boyfriend.

It is not satire when you make fun of people who aren't in power--people who need our protection--it is just mean.

I know that this movie will make a ton of money and will probably become a cult favorite, but I am going to follow the advice of my local news anchor who said, "If you don't line the 'R' word, stay home."

I think words are powerful. Use them carefully.

13 comments:

The Other Laura said...

Amen, sister.

Sunshine said...

Thank you.
And well said.

I remember being a kid and saying "retard" was supposed to be some kind of funny way to put another person down.

Then, people realized that, wow, it's just not that funny.

Now, seemingly, I see it written and hear it all over again.

I hate it. I have an autistic brother and so usage of it makes me cringe, knowing he's suffered the brunt of the word "retard" hurled in a condescending manner.

Bottom line: people that use that word, no matter how many other winning qualities they have, lose several notches in my book. Suddenly, they are less clever and less intelligent than before.

So, call me judgmental, I'm OK with it. But I'm not OK with "retard" as some sort of throwaway joke.

MamaBird said...

Yup. Hate it when people use that word. And I just *heard* it literally while I typed this comment on Generation Kill, which I am ignoring while I poke around blogland. Argh.

Mike Golch said...

that is the last thing I want to hear some one say about someone else. retard shoud be banned for the human language.

JCK said...

I agree. I adore your feminist rants by the way.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'm with you 100%.

Laura/CenterDownHome said...

My daughter, 21, and I just had a long, intersting discussion, prompted by your post, Professor J.

Topics touched upom: Pioneer Woman's Retarded Brother, Mike (http://thepioneerwoman.com/2006/06/i_have_a_retard.html); the NPR commentary about this movie, which we both heard the other day; the Confederate Flag; stereotypes of homeschoolers from the Mean Girls movie; actors playing a part and using offensive language which their character would use; how I hate Ben Stiller movies and how she thought Dodgeball was funny; hurtful vs politically correct ... and other stuff.

My brain hurts. But thanks for prompting a great discussion with my daughter.

Sojourner said...

Another AMEN! to you, Sister! I, too, love your feminist rants.

Laura I am with you on Ben Stiller movies- with the exception of Meet the Parents and Meet the Fokkers.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Word.

I'm totally BOYCOTTING that damn movie. And I think I have a randy sense of humor. I crack myself up all the time.

Poking fun at someone's immutable characteristics or sacred traditions? NOT funny. Ever. (Unless Jon Stewart is doing it, preferably naked.)

Peggy Sez.. said...

Feminist Rant? It should be everyones rant.Maybe Ben should have used the words "Conceited Egomaniacs" to describe his fellow so called thespians.It's always about the money anyways..:(

I'll just hush now.

thailandchani said...

Couldn't agree more with all you say here. It seems as one word is taken off the list, another one pops up. The need to be mean seems inbred into certain types of social systems.


~*

mental mosaic said...

I'll make ya a deal, you can have Jon Stewart, as long as I can have Stephen Colbert! ;P

Kizz said...

I went to see it because I was in my home town and i wanted to go to the old movie theater and that's the only thing that was playing. I didn't think I'd like it and I suspected I might be offended. I couldn't manage to be offended in the specific because the whole thing was such a steaming load of crap I could hardly pay attention.