Ad Campaign Targets Hollywood Disability References
With a new advertising campaign, a disability advocacy group is putting Hollywood on notice that it’s not acceptable to mock people with disabilities.
A quarter-page advertisement running in The Hollywood Reporter is discouraging use of the word “retard” and other potentially hurtful references to disabilities on screen.
The first ad appears in this week’s issue of the venerable Los Angeles publication and four more will run over the course of this month.
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“We are calling on the Hollywood community of standards and practices departments, screenwriters, producers, directors, actors and comedians to consider who they hurt when their content contains material that mocks and marginalizes children and adults living with special needs and disabilities,” said Hannah Jacobs, president of Family Member, a nonprofit focused on fair representations of disability in media, which is behind the ad campaign.
The advertisement highlights recent public outrage after presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized a New York Times reporter with a disability. By contrast, the ad notes the limited public response to the 2008 film “Tropic Thunder,” which included the lines “You went full retard… Never go full retard.”
Jacobs said her group chose to focus its efforts on Hollywood because the entertainment industry is responsible for “most of the content that both mocks and marginalizes people with disabilities.”
In addition to “Tropic Thunder,” she cited comments about little people and cerebral palsy in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Larry the Cable Guy performing his “Retarded Street Gang” routine, among other examples.
“The ad sends a clear message that if you’re offended by Donald Trump’s mocking of a reporter with a disability, you shouldn’t stop there,” Jacobs told Disability Scoop. “Mocking disability is not funny and shouldn’t be tolerated.”