How Thunder's Joke Hurts the Disabled

'Retard' a painful word for mother of daughter with Downs
By Kate Rockwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2008 7:09 PM CDT
Within days of coming under scrutiny by disability-rights groups, DreamWorks pulled its Simple Jack marketing campaign.   (DreamWorks)
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(Newser) – Patricia E. Bauer suffers every time her Downs syndrome daughter hears the word "retard." When Bauer saw ads for Tropic Thunder, which jokes about retardation, they echoed every insult that her blond, blue-eyed daughter had endured for 24 years. After weeks of debate, Bauer remains stunned by ads that feature "the word ‘retard’ without a thought to the consequences," she writes in the Washington Post

DreamWorks did pull a marketing campaign with the tagline, “Once upon a time…There was a retard.” But the movie unkindly portrays a "Simple Jack" and filmmakers never consulted families who care for the intellectually disabled, writes Bauer. Some 38,000 are housed in US institutions, and deserve our empathy, writes Bauer—even if comics insist, "I didn't mean it like that, and lighten up. It doesn't mean anything." (Read more Tropic Thunder stories.)