Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Please, Let Me Explain!

I have a huge mea culpa to issue here. It's regarding my review of the movie Tropic Thunder. I enjoyed the movie - thought it had a lot to recommend it. That part is fine and I, of course, stand by my right to express that opinion. However, (and this is a BIG however) I was insensitive in the extreme to a certain aspect of our society. When I said "if you're easily offended, skip it", I carelessly trivialized the feelings of people who either are or know someone who is mentally handicapped or disabled. God help me, I don't even know the proper term or if there is one. Please, if I've said the wrong thing, correct me. I'm willing and able to learn from my mistakes. Like now. With that "easily offended" statement. I received this comment from my good blogging friend, Michelle @ Big Blueberry Eyes. It was an eye opener for me, to say the least.

I guess you can count me among those easily offended :) I admit I haven't seen the movie, but that scene between Stiller and Downey Jr talking about why Stiller didn't win an Oscar playing Simple Jack? That scene offends me. In particular Downey Jr's character saying "you went full r*tard. You never go full r*tard" offends me. That phrase is already on shirts being sold online, kids will probably be wearing it in school, and I dread the day Kayla will have to see something like that. I've heard Stiller's response that it wasn't meant to offend, it was a satire poking fun of Hollywood and other actors etc, and taken in the context of the movie it's supposed to be funny. Regardless of what the context is, and that it was supposed to be funny, it just isn't - at least not for me. Ditto with the scene between Stiller and his agent talking about Stiller's plan to adopt. His agent saying "at least you get to chose your son" and then showing a picture of him with his son who appears to have a disability.
Anyway, just my opinion coming from a different point of view of why it offends me :) Hope you don't mind my long comment in response!

I truly did not mean to minimize or dismiss anyone's feelings over this movie. But I did. The truth is, the movie contains offensive language and references to mentally disabled people. That is a fact that I cannot deny. As Stiller said, I don't believe the makers of the movie specifically set out to make fun of mentally disabled people, rather I think the purpose was to show the ridiculous lengths Hollywood and, more pointedly, actors go to for their "art". This is something I agree with so whole heartedly, that I lost sight of the hurt those particular scenes could cause the innocents in our society who least deserve to be subjected to that sort of pain. I mean heck, I was laughing my butt off during most of the movie and, while I found the parts referring to the mentally handicapped to be in poor taste, I took them as a poke at Hollywood, not a poke at the disabled so I skipped right over them in my review of the movie. And honestly, I didn't understand the reference about the agent's kid when he told Stiller "at least you get to pick yours". They just showed a picture of a kid, a kid who looked like a million other kids out there. (Which may show that not only am I insensitive, I'm dense as well.) But the point is, it was real easy for me to laugh at certain things and dismiss others because I haven't had to endure the agony of knowing a loved one who is living with the realities of a handicap. Michelle, Joe and Kayla, if I live to be a hundred years old and apologize to you all every hour on the hour, I will never come close to expressing exactly how bad I feel for my total and complete lack of empathy for your feelings. I still think the movie, apart from the horribly unnecessary language regarding the handicapped, was funny, but (A), it would have been immeasurably funnier without those parts and (B) I never, ever should have even thought, much less said, "easily offended" in reference to anyone's feelings. It belittled what is obviously a very real and true emotion and one that, as a person who hasn't lived with this reality, I could never have any true grasp of understanding. If I had to do it all over again, and knowing what I know now, I believe I'd skip that movie. Sure, parts of it were hysterically funny. But 2 hours of laughter just doesn't measure up to the thought of hurting your feelings and I ache with every fiber of my being just thinking of little Kayla having her feelings hurt by this. I promise you now that I will work towards improving my empathy and sympathy and will be much more mindful of these things in the future. Thank you for your very kind and gentle reminder to me that there's a difference between being "politically incorrect" and being just plain wrong. I hope you'll forgive me my ignorance.

One other thing, today is my oldest son's 28th birthday. Happy Birthday, Nick! Sure wish I could talk to you and I hope you can at least read your birthday greetings. I miss you like crazy and think of you every moment of the day. You're my baby, my "Elvis", my pride and my joy. I love you, son.

P.S. Look one post down for the Weigh Out of Fat Recipes


  1. Oh Kari! I certainly didn't mean for you to feel like you needed to post any explanation, or apology, or anything like that on your blog! I knew what you meant when you said "easily offended" because I've heard/read there are a lot of "f-bombs" etc in the movie and I figured you were referring more to the bad language :) I know you are a good person and I know you weren't saying anything specific to offend me. That movie has caused quite the controversy within the disability community. Anyway, I'll email you so I don't take up you whole blog comment LOL

  2. Anyone who reads your blog knows your heart is as big as Texas and you would never intentionally offend... I have read the reviews particularly one by Parkers mom Tammy. I usually love Ben Stiller movies...

    Happy Birthday to Nick!

  3. Girl you are fine! Happy birthday Nick. Thanks so much for what you do!
    Love and hugs,Brenda

  4. I've gotta tell you, in this day and age, when one has NO idea what might be offensive and what might not be, I tend to get dreadfully tired of all the politically correct business. I really don't see where you have anything to apologize for. Did you refer to anyone with one of the not so nice terms used in the movie? In your blog post, did you, in any way, put down anyone of any race, shape, form, or intelligence? No, you didn't. You are entitled to your opinions, just as others are of theirs, if the opinions aren't in agreement, Oh well, That's life sugah, so please don't feel like you should have to apologize for who you are and how you think. I dearly love your writing style, how you say exactly what's on your mind. You've got true grit kiddo, and I like it!

    Happy Birthday Nick!!

  5. Hi sweet friend

    Happy Birthday to handsome Nick!

    I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard all the "hoopla" over it. Today it is almost impossible to do anything because someone may be offended, especially with comedies. That doesn't make it right though. I KNOW you'd never say anything to insult or be-little anyone.


  6. Happy Birthday Nick! 28, huh? God you're young!
    Aunt Sandi and Uncle Wallace

  7. I agree that you are being too hard on yourself. You have such a kind and caring heart, I know you would never be hurtful or blase about such matters.

    Happy Birthday to your son! He's a handsome fellow.

  8. What a good looking young man!
    Happy Mommy day too~

  9. Don't be so hard on yourself kari. Maybe I am old enough that not much offends me anymore. people say and do things (and that includes IN movies) and really don't mean a thing by them. I know plenty of folks who liked the movie, including my son. I understand those who get upset by the *words*, I too have a beloved disabled nephew, but did not take any of that to heart. IT happens...

    And I loved your PC post.
    It has gotten ridiculous. I remember hearing comedian Colin Quinn once saying that if the 9/11 terrorists had been Irish, blue eyes and ruddy skinned, he would EXPECT, nah, DEMAND to be checked out each time he flew. It is the way it is.
    And never knowing how to ID someone...there are, by my last count, 14 terms in which to ID a person racially. None of those 14 are in any way obscene. But, some of the terms seem to be objectionable to some people and not to others. And I am taling about Caucasions here!
    It gets sillier and sillier all the time. Even the police reports often fail to list a persons ethnicity or color because they do not wish to *offend*. Perpitrator was male with black hair, blue eyes and about 5 10. Uh oh. Now I am afraid I will offend those with blue eyes!! Egads!

    The foreclosure thing is more about those who lived life waaaay too large and now have to pay the piper so to speak. It is a fact that many bought homes they could not really afford when the payments were smaller. then they ballooned and wham. I was shocked when the bank told is what we COULD get a loan for. Whoa. But we bought a MUCH less expensive home and can sleep at night!

    I love your you and wish your son a belated, very happy birthday!!



Thank you for your comment. I love to hear what you have to say!