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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cultural Scorecard: Retard Jokes = Bad, Black Face = O-tay!

Goddamn people are stupid sometimes. The Special Olympics, as you know, is protesting Tropic Thunder's release because of Ben Stiller portraying a Tom Cruise-like character who's performance as a mentally retarded farmhand in the fictional film "Simple Jack" is nothing more than a grab for awards. (Which is total bullshit...Sean Penn didn't do that in I Am Sam. He took the role for its dramatic purposes, he doesn't want any special attention. When have you ever seen Sean Penn begging for the attention of the world?) As usual, Robert Downey, Jr. is a class act, and is completely correct in his belief that while people can protest until the cows come home, artists should be free to say what they want.

Which helps bring me to another point that everyone has made during this kerfluffle: no one's complained about Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as an Austrailian actor who surgically alters his skin pigment to be black. Let me rephrase that: Robert Downey Jr. is appearing in this picture in blackface for a laugh. Shh, do you hear that? Nothing. Al Sharpton isn't coming to decry my words, Jesse Jackson isn't bitching about the "unethical" nature of the film's storyline. Why wouldn't African American interest groups get riled up about this movie? Oh, I see...they think it's a joke. They realize that the running gag throughout the movie is that Robert Downey Jr.'s character looks black in an effort to...dare I say it, chase a major Hollywood award nomination. (Plus, one would assume that they also picked up on the moment in the trailer where a truly African American cast member calls him out on pretending he's black.)

Now, one would assume that his character's motivation is the same as Ben Stiller's, that being "Hey, if I can fool someone I'm something I'm not, then I have a shot at an Oscar." If that were true, Andy Dick and Dane Cook would be up for Oscars in any performance that didn't show them as the true douche drippings they are. Jessica Simpson would win anytime she actually managed to form a coheirant sentence, no matter what she said. And THIS would be considered an Oscar winning performance...

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

The truth is, all actors have some sort of personal impetus to make certain projects. If you're just starting out, it's getting your name out there so you can get bumped to the A-List. If you're established, it's to win awards or do something you truly think it's fun. If you're a has-been, it's to get Quentin Tarentino to cast you in his latest movie and get yourself back into the limelight. Actors are always taking parts because of a myriad of motivations, but do you truly think that they want to offend anyone with them? Do you think Ben Stiller wanted to make fun of mentally disabled people with his role as a...Hollywood action star trying to be taken seriously? I know Tom Cruise is nutty and all, but he's not mentally disabled; so frankly, trying to take this performance as a knock at the mentally challenged is a bit of a stretch.

I think that this boycott is a load of shit. It's as stupid as gay people getting angry at the fact that Amanda Seyfried didn't do red carpet gladhanding at the OutFest's screening of Mamma Mia. (It happened! http://www.nypost.com/seven/07142008/gossip/pagesix/mamma_no_show_irks_gays_119760.htm)
This was seen as a "diss" to the gay community, because, "This is our movie!" Yet another stupid statement. I'm not a Gay basher, but Mamma Mia isn't "your" movie. Just because one character turns out to be a homosexual, and the film is filled with singing and dancing, doesn't make it a "gay movie". Isn't it playing into the stereotypes you are so adamantly against to think so? I hated the film personally, but even I could realize it was a film about a young woman's journey to find her personal identity, via the identity of her father. When failing to find out who her father is, she realizes her mother was the parent she takes after, and is confident enough with herself to cancel the wedding and just travel with her now once and future fiancee. She doesn't dump him for a girl, she doesn't come out, she doesn't even think about kissing one of her other friends. Get over it. And just like Mamma Mia isn't a "gay movie", Tropic Thunder isn't a "retard movie". The Ringer was one thing, but this...this just doesn't cut it.

How would the Special Olympics like it if people decided to boycott them because not only are they overly sensitive about this film, but also because from the looks of that clip at the top of today's column they want to boycott the letter R? Frankly, I like the letter R. My last name depends on it, otherwise I'd be Michael Eyes instead of Reyes. And as you know, I am part Puerto Rican (or Pueto Ican, in your eyes) and if you change my last name, you change my personal and cultural identity. So how about I gather all of the people whose names have R in them, and picket your Special Olympics because someone had a sign with an R in a crossed out circle? What? You say you aren't against the letter R? But your sign looks like it. What? Looks aren't always what they seem? But you have that type of stance with the Simple Jack plotline of Tropic Thunder, is that not the same?

The word "retard" means slow or stunted development, for something to basically inhibit something. If a person is "mentally disabled", they are unable to function on as high of a cognitive level as an average person. They are two different terms that happened to be linked together by misusage in popular culture. Yes, some people use the word "retarded" to indicate stupidity, but it's not a knock at the mentally disabled. If it was, they would be saying, "What are you, mentally disabled?" No, they're using "retard" as a form of slang, derived from the true purpose of the word, which is not to make fun of mentally disabled people. People of the Special Olympics, I ask you: could you not derive this for yourselves, or are you just retarded?

The Special Olympics can kiss my (and Dreamworks') ass, I'm going to see Tropic "Motherfucking" Thunder, and Dreamworks isn't cutting a thing. Make like Howie Mandel, and deal.


Seresecros said...

I never watch the Special Olympics, because it's shite. They're all so SLOW! What's up with that? I think they should call it "The Spastic Olympics" (remember, here, that Wilftonville changed the meaning of that word so it isn't offensive anymore), because there's nothing "special" about those Olympics. If anything, they competitors are routinely worser than those in the "normal" Olympics.

Andy Dick and Dane Cook would win an Oscar for achieving the feats you detail; it just hasn't happened yet. Jon Lovitz FTW!

Mr. Controversy said...

Agreed, Jon Lovitz FTW indeed.

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