I went to a movie the other day, one that I had looked forward to seeing. I was enjoying myself and then something happened. One of the characters in the movie, played by an actor I really like and one that I respected as a person, used the R-word. By the time this happened, I was well and truly into the movie and enjoying myself. We had chosen this movie because we wanted an escape from real life. We wanted to just get away, take a mini holiday from everything. The movie had started well and we were packed and on board.
That hateful and entirely unnecessary word.
It’s a word whose elimination enriches vocabulary rather than restricts speech.
I was pulled out of the movie, my bags went flying around me, and I was back in the real world. The one with bigotry and intentional hurt and social violence and complete disrespect for the people who have intellectual disabilities. That world.
A screenwriter, presumably one with both a dictionary and a thesaurus, presumably one who lives in the same world that I do and is aware of the hurt caused by words, who is paid to write to entertain and, maybe occasionally inform, lazily stuck a word into a script that would toss passengers off the train. I am not a highly paid Hollywood screenwriter and I could have come up with a whole pack of words that could of been used and would have elicited laughter like the R-word was intended to, but didn’t in the theatre that I was in.
The actors must have read the script before and did any of them say, “Hey, this word here, not a great word to be using, it will hurt some people in the audience, it will take away from the pleasure of our movie.” I don’t know if they did or if they had power to change a word in the script, but I’m guessing that they did.
So, I’m sitting in the theatre no longer a part of the movie but simply watching it. Part of my mind is following the story and part is thinking about what I can do. I can leave. I can complain and get my money back. But I’ve done that before and I don’t believe there is any impact at all. I don’t believe that anyone knows and that there is any outcome from doing that.
I stayed. I worked to get back into the movie, and I did, my baggage was left in the theatre waiting for the movie to be over, but I did manage to hop back on.
I’m going to write to the actor who said the word. I’m going to ask him to think about it when reading a script. I like this guy. I like the stands he’s taken and how he represents himself, I’m going to tell him that.
I wonder if you could help me write this letter. Tell me some of the things you’d like included. What does this experience do to you when you are watching a movie. I often find in my comments here and on Facebook ideas that I wish I had incorporated into my writing, so if you could help me again now, that would be awesome.