The word “retard” has a prominent place in “Miss March,” says Chicago Tribune interviewer Robert K. Elder. The Fox Searchlight film, about a young man who wakes from a coma to find that his girlfriend has become a Playboy centerfold, opens Friday.
Here’s an excerpt of Elder’s interview with actor Craig Robinson.
Q: In the script, the word “retard” is used over and over. The comedy “Tropic Thunder” received a great deal of criticism for using the same word. Was there any concern over how this might be received?
A: I’ve heard nothing. There could very well be something, but I haven’t heard anything. We shot it probably the same time as ["Tropic Thunder"]. I wasn’t in the editing room. You’ll have to talk to the guys who made those decisions.
Q: But, as a comedian, is that just a toxic word now?
A: It does seem to be. You can see it from a parent’s point of view. But the way they use it in the movie is funny. It’s silly. It’s not going out to hurt anybody. It’s definitely not coming from an evil place; it’s just coming from the way people talk.
News about the film’s use of the word “retard” started surfacing the same day the Special Olympics announced its “Spread the Word to End the Word” effort, with activities scheduled for March 31. The youth-led campaign will be devoted to raising awareness about people with intellectual disabilities, and to calling a halt to the use of the word “retard” as a casual insult.
“Most people don’t think of this word as the language of hate, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends,” said actor John McGinley of the television show “Scrubs.” McGinley is the father of a son with Down syndrome and a spokesman for the event.
Special Olympics initially declared its opposition to what it calls “the R-word” last summer in response to the film “Tropic Thunder,” joining a coalition of 17 disability rights organizations that included The Arc of the United States, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the National Down Syndrome Society, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and Best Buddies.
Readers: Have you screened “Miss March”? If so, please let us know what you observed. And who’s got a screener they can send us?
Earlier posts here.