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Terri Mauro

The Change-Up Gets Thumbs-Down for Disability Slurs

By August 8, 2011

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Ryan ReynoldsDid you see the movie The Change-up this weekend? If not, you're certainly not alone -- the movie didn't have a great first weekend at the box office and was not warmly received by critics. Nor was it warmly received by people who flinch when they hear casual insults toward children with disabilities in the movies. Gretchen Mather wrote in her blog Julian's Journey yesterday about the opening scene of the film, in which a character played by Ryan Reynolds jokingly asks if his friend's twins are retarded and refers to a child as looking "Downsy." She's urging those offended by such slurs (including the recent GQ joke) to like her Facebook page titled Stop Disability Slurs | Do You Have the Courage?, Tweet in protest, and write to the movie studio. I've added her campaign to my forum category on ways to demand respect for children with special needs. Feel free to add any advocacy efforts you're involved with as well, and this might also be a good time to add your name to my "We Expect Respect" manifesto if you haven't already.

For more on The Change-up, read blog posts from:

If you've blogged about it or seen a good post, mention it in the comments and I'll add it here.

I'm also interested in hearing in the comments from anyone who's seen the movie and can provide some context for the lines mentioned. Specifically, how did the children's parents react to the slurs? Was Reynolds' character presented as being a jerk saying rude things? I'd just as soon not hear those words used at all as a cheap comic dig, but I've also seen instances where other characters' obvious disgust with the person using them put a somewhat more positive spin on the scene. Wondering if we might hope that's the case here. [Update: Read my follow-up post about the director's ... well, not exactly defense of those lines.]

Are you seeing any other movies or TV shows this summer of special-needs interest? I'm enjoying the character with autism on Syfy's Alphas. My daughter has been watching Switched at Birth on ABC Family, which features a deaf teenager, but I haven't watched it with her. I still have the last few episodes of Parenthood on my DVR, so I guess that's going to count for summer viewing too. Remember that there's a form for your reviews of special-needs related TV shows, so if you've found something good (or want to warn about something bad), add it to the list.

Photo of Ryan Reynolds by Theo Wargo

August 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm
(1) Kelli Forrester says:
August 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm
(2) specialchildren says:

Thanks for sharing your blog, Kelli. I’ve added it to the list above. Please consider filling out the form at http://specialchildren.about.com/u/sty/youradviceneeded/yourblog/form.htm to add a page about your blog to this website.

August 10, 2011 at 1:16 am
(3) Jennifer says:

I have also blogged about this! I’m the mother of an almost 6 months old with Down syndrome and find this incredibly offensive. You can view my blog at the link below.

August 10, 2011 at 10:15 am
(4) Terri Mauro says:

Jennifer, thanks for sharing your post — I’ve added it to the list. And also, thanks for filling out a form about your blog — the page is up now at http://specialchildren.about.com/u/sty/youradviceneeded/yourblog/Life-As-We-Know-It.htm.

August 10, 2011 at 10:41 am
(5) Hope says:

Short, personal and to the point.


Thank you for bringing attention to this matter.

August 10, 2011 at 11:05 am
(6) specialchildren says:

Thanks, Hope! I’ve added your post to the list. Please consider filling out the form at http://specialchildren.about.com/u/sty/youradviceneeded/yourblog/form.htm to create a page about your blog on this site.

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