Local families taking on Hollywood

August 14, 2008 11:13:19 AM PDT
Some say they are upset with the latest Ben Stiller movie.The movie uses the r-word when referring to people with developmental disabilities.

Steve Strom says his son Andrew, 11, of Wake Forest is getting ready to start middle school. His dad feels his son disability could make him a target of bullying.

"My son has Fragile X Syndrome. It's the most inheritable form of intellectual disabilities among boys. He has trouble communicating, not being able to carry on a conversation," he said.

Strom fears movies like Tropic Thunder could make things worse.

In the DreamWorks comedy about overrated actors making a war movie, there's a scene in which Ben Stiller recalls playing a mentally challenged man in another film.

"At one point, in a two minute span, they used the 'R-word' 24 times, so it really puts people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in a very negative light," Strom said.

So negative that Strom's organization, Arc of Wake County --which helps developmentally disabled people--, is standing with the Special Olympics organization denouncing the film and asking people to pledge not use the r-word.

On the website r-word.org , nearly 3,000 people across the country have signed up. Strom feels a bigger message will be sent, if people do not go see the movie.

"When we have people like Ben Stiller who has made great movies stoop to doing something like this, I think my son would be very concerned, too. He would not want to be portrayed by the one thing that is his disability," Strom said. "Using the r-word would be something that would hurt his feelings and make him cry."

Something his father says he already feels in the real world and doesn't need Hollywood's help.


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