2008.08.14: August 14, 2008: Headlines: Directors - Shriver: Figures: Special Olympics: Disabilities: Movies: Speaking Out: Cape Cod Times: Tim Shriver leads protests over "Tropical Thunder"

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Tim Shriver leads protests over "Tropical Thunder"

Tim Shriver leads protests over Tropical Thunder

"This is the movement, created five days ago," said Special Olympics International chairman Timothy Shriver, fresh from a protest at the film's Los Angeles premiere on Monday that drew 300 protesters and made national headlines. For the first time, the Special Olympics has banded together with 22 other advocacy groups such as the Arc and the National Down Syndrome Congress to achieve a common goal. "We're trying to start a conversation" about disabilities, he said. "We all have great senses of humor. But it's not funny." Shriver, who is the son of Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who helped to found the Special Olympics in the late 1960s, was joined on the picket line by family, Cape Cod Special Olympians, members of local law enforcement, high ranking organizers from the state's Special Olympics, and concerned citizens young and old. The protests are planned nationwide. There are about 1,000 Special Olympians who live on the Cape. "We just wanted to bring attention to this cause," Bourne police Lt. Richard Tavares, an ardent supporter and fundraiser for the Special Olympics, said as he stood on the grass with the group. "For 40 years, (the Special Olympians) have been showing people that they can do more than they can't do," Massachusetts Special Olympics President and CEO Robert Johnson added. "This sets us back."

Tim Shriver leads protests over "Tropical Thunder"

Movie panned as crass, insensitive

By MATTHEW M. BURKE
mburke@capecodonline.com

August 14, 2008

Caption: About 50 demonstrators hand out leaflets outside Regal Cinemas at the Cape Cod Mall last night to protest “Tropic Thunder.” Critics of the movie say it mocks people with mental disabilities.Cape Cod Times/Ron Schloerb

HYANNIS — Hannah Steenhuysen turned to her parents and smiled, clearly enjoying herself as she clutched the wooden fence in front of her.

Nearby, several signs were planted in the grass, reading, "Ban the movie, ban the word," and, "Acceptance and inclusion for everyone."

"The 'R' word is hate speech," Hannah chanted, flanked on both sides by other like-minded individuals who all shouted in unison. " 'Tropic Thunder,' ban the blunder."

A group of young adults walking by explained that they were going to see "Batman: The Dark Knight" as if seeking the protesters' acceptance.

Needless to say, it was not an average day at the mall for Hannah, a bubbly 12-year-old from Rehoboth, who joined about 50 other protesters last night outside the entrance to the Regal Cinemas at the Cape Cod Mall to protest the new Dreamworks/Paramount film, "Tropic Thunder," co-written and directed by comedic actor Ben Stiller.

The film, which is a spoof of the film industry and of Hollywood itself, opened to audiences nationwide yesterday. It has created a firestorm in recent days for its depiction of the mentally disabled as bumbling, incompetent fools and for its use of the word "retard," which critics have said to be excessive and uncalled for.

"We feel that it is really bad that these people are making fun of people who can't help (being disabled)," Hannah said, in between handing out pamphlets to moviegoers.

She is too young to have seen the film, which is rated R, but she said that she was offended after reading media reports.

At issue is the film inside the film, in which Stiller's character Tugg Speedman, an actor, portrays "Simple Jack," a stuttering mentally disabled man who has over-the-top fake teeth and talks to animals, in a vain attempt to win awards for his acting prowess. The film also uses the word "retard" or "retarded" 17 times, according to protest organizers.

"This is the movement, created five days ago," said Special Olympics International chairman Timothy Shriver, fresh from a protest at the film's Los Angeles premiere on Monday that drew 300 protesters and made national headlines.

For the first time, the Special Olympics has banded together with 22 other advocacy groups such as the Arc and the National Down Syndrome Congress to achieve a common goal.

"We're trying to start a conversation" about disabilities, he said. "We all have great senses of humor. But it's not funny."

Shriver, who is the son of Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who helped to found the Special Olympics in the late 1960s, was joined on the picket line by family, Cape Cod Special Olympians, members of local law enforcement, high ranking organizers from the state's Special Olympics, and concerned citizens young and old. The protests are planned nationwide.

There are about 1,000 Special Olympians who live on the Cape.

"We just wanted to bring attention to this cause," Bourne police Lt. Richard Tavares, an ardent supporter and fundraiser for the Special Olympics, said as he stood on the grass with the group. "For 40 years, (the Special Olympians) have been showing people that they can do more than they can't do," Massachusetts Special Olympics President and CEO Robert Johnson added. "This sets us back."

The film is playing at the Regal Cinemas in two theaters. Last night, the 7:45 showing drew approximately 25 people despite the protests outdoors. During the scenes in question, sporadic laughter could be heard throughout the theater.

"I don't see what the big deal is," a man, who declined to give his name, said on the way into the theater before the show. "It's just the word retarded."

"People say retarded to feel better than you," Mike Walker, a Hyannis resident and Special Olympics global messenger, told the protesters outside. "Well, you're better than them."




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Headlines: August, 2008; Sargent Shriver (Director 1961 - 1966); Figures; Special Olympics; Disabilities; Movies; Speaking Out





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Story Source: Cape Cod Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Directors - Shriver; Figures; Special Olympics; Disabilities; Movies; Speaking Out

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