Friday, August 28, 2009

Really Not So Funny

When the movie was released, I had of course heard about the protests and controversy surrounding Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder. I eagerly read reviews from individuals from my online support group and often wondered what I would think about the film. I wasn't about to spend money on the movie and couldn't bring myself to sneak in there at the time, but I wanted to see for myself what this was all about - the best scenario for me was to watch it without a crowd and not pay anything directly to the movie. Well finally the film came on HBO, which we already have. I ended up watching the end first and then catching the beginning later because of scheduling and poor planning on my part. And quite honestly, it would have been torture for me to watch that movie in one sitting. Obviously I have bias about the Simple Jack stuff, but all and all I must say in my opinion I thought the film was very poor. I get that it was a satire - I just didn't find it very funny.

Four parts bothered me - the clips/portrayal of Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) playing Simple Jack, Speedman and Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) discussing going "full r-word," and two scenes related to Speedman's agent Rick "Pecker" Peck (Matthew McConaughey). It is of these two scenes that I want to speak. Speedman wants to adopt a child. Peck says to him something to effect of "Well at least you can pick yours, I am stuck with mine." And then the camera cuts to a photo of his son who appears to have a developmental disability (not DS). The second scene is at the end of the film where you see Peck and his son on a plane. They are sitting across the aisle from one another, not interacting, and his son is wearing a bib to catch drool (or at least that is what it looks like since he doesn't appear to be eating). It is obvious he has some not so positive feelings about his son. I was very disappointed in these two parts. Granted they were a very small part of the film, but they just further perpetuate a stereotype that having a child with a disability is the worst possible thing that can happen to a parent. To this scene and that view, I do have to say that I did have a choice and I choose to have Quinn. I was never stuck with her. I am blessed having her, as she has changed me in so many ways.

Having a child with a disability is not just a burden or a horrible circumstance to endure, as portrayed in brief moments in this film. It can be a life changing, positive, self-actualizing experience. Just yesterday I saw an old student of mine that I hadn't seen since pre-Quinn days. It was so nice to catch up with her. I was talking to her about a psychopathology course that I was teaching this fall. I told her how I am having the students read The Short Bus by Jonathan Mooney because in addition to learning about diagnoses, I want them to learn about sensitivity. What good is one without the other? We need to include both in such a course. She looked at me and said something to the effect that she can see that Quinn has impacted me for the better. There was something beautiful in her eyes at that moment, like she really saw this in me and respected the blessing of that and of this little girl. I felt peace in my heart knowing that this little girl will have an impact on so many future clinicians in the field (that is, if the students listen to me). I am not stuck with her - I was made better by her.

The options in this journey is to either let the experience destroy you/turn you into someone you aren't proud of (Peck's option) OR use it to better yourself, to learn, to experience a whole new world. I choose Quinn and the latter.


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