Advocates for disabled to protest "Tropic Thunder"

Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:25pm EDT
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Groups that advocate for the disabled called on Sunday for a national boycott of the Ben Stiller comedy "Tropic Thunder," citing what they say is its negative portrayal of people with intellectual disabilities.

"We are asking people not to go to the movie and hope to bring a consciousness to people about using derogatory words about this population," said Peter Wheeler, spokesman for Special Olympics, one of 22 disability groups nationwide protesting the satire.

The film, directed by Stiller, will be released on Wednesday by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures and its DreamWorks unit.

The groups plan to picket the movie's premiere on Monday evening in Los Angeles's Westwood community.

"That will be the start of a nationwide protest," said Wheeler. "We will continue to be vocal about the destructive effect of this film."

He said the groups are particularly offended by the film's repeated use of the word "retard" regarding a character, Simple Jack, played by Stiller in a subplot about an actor.

Representatives of the Special Olympics, the Arc of the United States, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the American Association of People with Disabilities and other groups met with studio executives last week to discuss the film, but DreamWorks did not make any changes.

Peter Berns, executive director the Arc, said in a memo the groups presented various ideas to the studio, from requesting an apology to fixing the film before its release, to producing a national educational campaign.   Continued...

<p>Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. pose at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles June 1, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>