Hollywood Needs to Show People with I/DD Some Respect

With social media enabling us to stay connected and engaged with communities around the world, the words of individuals, celebrities, and authors can very quickly be spread and deemed acceptable without question simply because we are on the receiving end of too many messages. And when celebrities and entertainment mediums are the messengers, they often rise to the top of our overloaded brains, even when they disseminate derogatory phrases that offend and belittle members of our society.

Although we have made so much progress in removing the ‘r-word’ from our society, some in Hollywood just don’t seem to get it, as we see in the new Universal Pictures movie “The Change-Up.” The kind of language used is hurtful to so many who sit in the theaters thinking they are in store for entertainment, not insult. Words matter, and the film industry needs to learn that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families find this kind of language to be totally unacceptable.

GQ is another recent offender, with a July 15 article by author John B. Thompson reviewing fashion in the United States titled, “40 Worst-Dressed Cities in America.” The article described Boston, MA as number one saying, “Due to so much local inbreeding, Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome, where a little extra ends up ruining everything.” This language has since been removed online, but an explanation from the magazine or apology from the author has not been issued.

The only way to stop offensive language like this is to continue working together to express what these words actually mean. Stand up and be heard! Contact both GQ and Universal Pictures about their offensive comments about individuals with Down syndrome:

This isn’t a question of free speech; this is about respecting people with I/DD and understanding that words are powerful, especially when they are coming from sources that are viewed by millions of people worldwide.

3 thoughts on “Hollywood Needs to Show People with I/DD Some Respect

  1. Peter, I absolutely love this post. Especially this sentence “Words matter, and the film industry needs to learn that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families find this kind of language to be totally unacceptable.”

    I have shared your article on my group Stop Disability Slurs on Facebook. I created it on Sunday night and it is already at almost 1,000 members who are very passionate and active about Stopping Disability Slurs. It is my vision that the words Disability Slur will eventually be synonymous with Racial Slur or Religious Slur.

    Would you consider updating your blog post to include a brief link to those who might want to join our grass roots organization to Stop Disability Slurs? http://www.facebook.com/stopdisabilityslurs

    Thank you.
    Gretchen Mather
    Founder, Stop Disability Slurs
    617 877 7273

    • Hi Gretchen,

      Thanks so much for the kind words about Peter’s post. It’s truly appreciated!

      We’re glad that your Facebook page is seeing some early success, and we’re happy to have you share it here. That’s what comments are for! But generally speaking, we don’t edit blog posts after the fact.

      I’m sure some folks will see the link in your comment and check it out.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Dear Peter…. I thank you as a parent for taking a stand. I had already sent GQ an email weeks back and did get a “canned” reply and did not waste time logging onto Universal’s website…http:/www.universalstudios.com/contact_form.php to let me feelings be known. It’s sad that Hollywood can’t instead choose to lead the way with issues as these. It is possible to educate and entertain at the same time.

    Thank you again,
    Jeanne Zarrella, R.N.
    First Call Responder
    Mass. Down Syndrome Congress

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