DreamWorks "Retard" Scandal Grows: "R Word" Is Declared "Hate Speech"

Days before DreamWorks’ Tropic Thunder rolls into theatres, there’s an uneasy calm in Hollywood as the eight disability organisations that met with the studio on Wednesday are preparing to see the film and, if necessary, launch a protest.

DreamWorks has arranged screenings of the film for disability-rights advocates around the country this morning at 10 a.m. After that, the groups will reconvene with DreamWorks execs by phone. Executive Director of the Arc of the United States, Peter Berns, said that the advocates were waiting until they saw the full movie to make a judgment on how they should proceed. But, he said, “We told [DreamWorks CEO] Stacey Snider that based on what we’ve seen, we’re very concerned. [It seems like] the ‘r-word’ is used throughout the film, and that’s viewed as hate speech.”

He also reiterated that the Arc’s chapters throughout the country are preparing to take action.

Still Berns echoed DreamWorks’ statement that Wednesday’s meeting was productive. Sources familiar with the talks added that the studio is trying to develop a good working relationship with the disability-rights community going forward.

This might involve the studio taking one of several steps the organisations have proposed to undo the damage from the Simple Jack parody. Berns said the suggested actions included fixing the film, or at least the DVD version, “adding an educational trailer to film to educate people about intellectual disability and how hateful the language in their film is or leading a national campaign to eliminate the ‘r-word’ from the national lexicon or a similar initiative within the entertainment industry.”

On Friday, DreamWorks spokesman Chip Sullivan declined to comment on whether it would be possible to alter the film prior to its Wednesday release. Over the weekend, however, he told the New York Times that “No changes or cuts to the film will be made.” How will this statement will affect disability groups’ stance on the film? But the movie will most likely remain intact at Monday night’s Los Angeles premiere, where Berns said he “fully expected there to be some presence from advocates in California.”

Furthermore, Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver, who reportedly participated in the meeting by phone, told the Times that the push for a national boycott “will happen” and added that he and members of the Special Olympics planned to protest the film’s premiere.

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