Tropic Thunder: not so funny
Letter to the Editor | Monday, November 10, 2008
The summer before my freshman year here at Notre Dame, I volunteered at the Special Olympics Games. I helped in the skills division of tennis. One particular athlete, Ben, was very excited to go first. He came out on the court, and I asked him if he needed any practice rounds. Ben confidently replied, “No, I’m ready!” Ben completed his challenges and was pretty good at all of them. I complimented him on his skill and he proudly responded, ” I know I’m good, I’m PERFECT!” Truer words have never been spoken. Ben had Down syndrome.
This past week SUB movies hosted the film, Tropic Thunder. This film repeatedly degrades those with disabilities. Men and women with disabilities are the greatest gift God has given to our world. They are full of pure, unconditional, perfect love. My sister, Marita, has physical and mental handicaps. While some students here at Notre Dame struggle with trying to make the division one sports team, Marita struggles with walking. While students here struggle with Aristotle’s philosophy, Marita struggles with learning how to read. While students here struggle with relationships and learning how to love one another-well Marita’s got that one covered. Marita never gives up-not only can she walk, but she can run and play sports too. Not only can she read, but she writes her own stories and spells a whole lot better than I do. Not only does she love, but she loves unconditionally, unselfishly, and unreservedly. She sees people for who they are, not for what they look like or what they wear or how smart or athletic they are. She simply loves the person. Marita never makes fun of anyone – but each day when I walk around campus, I hear people using the word “retarded” with a negative connotation.
I see our beloved Notre Dame sponsoring a film, Tropic Thunder, that openly degrades those with disabilities. If a movie openly made fun of Jewish people or black people or women we wouldn’t show it–it would be deemed as offensive. So why, when a movie openly makes fun of those with disabilities, is it deemed as funny? It’s not funny-it’s hurtful. It’s degrading a group of people who should be praised and commended by society-not made fun of. This is a Catholic university named after our Blessed Mother-and right now, I’m pretty sure she is ashamed of us.