Ben Stiller and More Merde

Has everyone already heard about the giant inflatable turd by “artist” Paul McCarthy that was blown away from its moorings at a Swiss museum and knocked down a power line before breaking some windows at a children’s home? The turd, entitled Complex Shit, is the size of a house.   Here is a description of the show, at the Paul Klee centre:

“interweaving, diverse, not to say conflictive emphases and a broad spectrum of items to form a dynamic exchange of parallel and self-eclipsing spatial and temporal zones”.

Whatever you say, pal.

While we’re talking shit (double entendre!) Rachel Zoe is featured in Bazaar magazine, with a photo-shopped image of her as a size 8, next to her real self, a size zero.   Ms. Zoe says “Are you kidding me?” several times in the short interview, which will help you understand why she’s so well hated, if this is still news to you.

Finally, Ben Stiller’s new movie, Tropic Thunder.   Disability Rights groups are up in arms about the movie’s use of the word “retard,” including a slogan that is already available on a t-shirt.     I admit I hate Ben Stiller, so he doesn’t have to   do anything but keep breathing to make me mad. And yet, now I’m more mad.

The word retard is a pejorative term that hurts those who are least able to defend themselves. In the same way that we now know not to say “Fatty!” when we walk by an overweight person, we can all learn not to use “retard” in connection with a person who seems slow, autistic, has Down Syndrome, etc.

Ben Stiller and Dreamworks want you to feel that those who are boycotting the movie are a bunch of fussbudgets with no sense of humor.   In fact, they are people who know the challenges already out there for people with disabilities or special needs.

My special need is for Ben Stiller to leave the planet, or at least retire.

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24 Responses to Ben Stiller and More Merde

  1. i couldn’t believe the trailer for tropic thunder when it ran before my mongol movie. I just doubletake … was I dreaming? Did … did anyone else just see that?.
    as for people’s preoccupation with shit. Isn’t Freud’s explanation re. ‘caca’ that it is the first stage of sexual development?
    I feel Rachel Zoe has diminishing worth as a person the more twisted, shallow, tannorexic, and emaciated she gets. Shortly, she will be nothing more than bone and flapping orange skin . oh and hamster cheeks.

  2. Sister Wolf says:

    Dont forget “raisin-face.”

  3. emma says:

    aaah but sister wolf – the use of the word in the movie is not to attack those with disabilities but to poke fun of actors that use the lives of those with disability as fodder for an oscar “if you play a retard you’re garunteed a statue!” so I have to disagree there. I neither like nor dislike Stiller but I get annoyed when things are taken out of context – particularly when no one has actually seen the movie yet.

  4. Skye says:

    Giant inflatable escaping poo? You’ve just made my day.

    Rachel Zoe is kind of on the opposite end of the shit spectrum though – Teeny weeny, ever enwizening and sadly doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

  5. Sister Wolf says:

    Emma, I’m aware of the context in which the word is used. The observation that ‘you’ll win an Oscar if you play a mentally retarded person’ was made in an episode of “Extras” and then they moved on with the storyline.

    In Mr. Stillers’ movie, I believe the word ‘retarded” is milked for all the sophomoric humor that can be wrung by the repeated use of a ‘bad word’, like ‘nigger.’ It will get laughs but it isn’t socially responsible (not that any film needs to be.)

    Since the reaction of the disabled rights community could be easily predicted, I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Stiller & co. thought that the adverse publicity would be a plus.

    The movie “Ringer” used several actors with disabilities and worked with the disabled community to produce a genuinely funny film about a guy who fakes his way into the Special Olympics.

    I am hardly a PC type (duh) but I have seen first hand how teasing and bullying can hurt and traumatize people with special needs.

  6. Su says:

    Timothy Shriver, the guy who seems to be the spokesperson for pushing the Tropic Thunder boycott was interviewed on NPR earlier today. It was going relatively well, until this fell out of his mouth:

    “If you want to make fun of people, there are other people you can make fun of.”

    Mr. Shriver failed to elaborate as to who should be mocked instead of the retards. Maybe Spics? I was really disappointed the interviewer didn’t peg him on it. She did point out that Robert Downey Junior is essentially in blackface, which he weakly deflected with more or less, “Well, that’s not my issue.”
    (I’m not taking any side here. Just thought the quoted bit was an interesting slip on his part.)

  7. Sister Wolf says:

    Hahaha, oh dear, that’s quite a blunder.

    I was ASTOUNDED by the blackface issue when I saw a clip of RD Jr. Maybe the filmmakers are glad the Retards have won the media attention, instead of those angry Negroes?

  8. hammie says:

    Emma, it is not about creating completely unlikeable characters that everyone will understand are meant to be shallow and mean; it is about creating a movie catchphrase that will be quoted to kids with special needs in all settings for the next 20 years. And the Youtube clips (since withdrawn) and mock posters (also withdrawn) for the movie within a movie “Simple Jack” were enough for most people with any compassion to realise this movie had gone beyond the line for lowest common denominator humor.

    As for Tim Shriver’s “blunder” How about making fun of Male Models TICK, or intense people who play Dodge Ball? TICK, or the sports/commentators on ESPN? TICK
    Because these people can be percieved in a context that goes beyond a stereotype.
    Whereas for many people, the term special needs defines and limits their potential and inclusion for life.

    As for blackface, yes; but there was an african american actor on set and according to the post production interviews he was consulted and listened to when it was felt the portrayal was going TOO FAR.

    Movies like The Ringer, There’s Something About Mary, and TV shows like Summer Heights High and EXTRAS all work in consultation and from a position of respect. And it is obvious that the real joke is on the antagonist.

    There are still many cultures in the world who view special needs as being somehow the fault of either the child or their parents; specifically the mother. And this includes western countries. There is also still, in 2008 a belief that we parents should “give up, that their children are worthless” (I quote Timothy shriver) and ” Schools turn them away…… Employers won’t hire them. None of this is funny.”
    In Ireland national schools practice “academic apartheid” by refusing to take children with special needs. This is a documented fact.
    Both my kids have autism. My son, after 7 years of special education has the opportunity to do a little bit of mainstream inclusion this year in a local boy’s national school. My son is academically brilliant but quite socially challenged. Imagine how I will feel the first time I hear that some pre-teen boy has observed my son biting his hand, or flapping a bit in excitement
    And said “Never go Full Retard”. How will that reflect on any 11 year old kid who tries to include him socially? “Hey you, do the retard face, MORE RETARDED!!”
    These kids are Ben Stiller’s target market and he knows it.
    Sorry to get personal but this is personal.
    Sorry Sis for hijacking your thread. And BTW. I hear Tom Cruise is in this movie too, now there is someone that we can all make fun of!!

    K-line recently reminded me of this post. I think it explains where I am coming from here.


  9. David Duff says:

    Poor Paul Klee, one of the truly great artists of the 20th c. (unlike, say, that poodle-faker Picasso) must be spinning in his grave.

  10. Imelda Matt says:

    ‘dynamic exchange of parallel and self-eclipsing spatial and temporal zones’ – thats even funnier than the ‘turd’ knocking down a children’s homes.

  11. tobilynne says:

    I took care of MR/DD adults for several years. WE can look at the context and say it’s fine, however, context is often lost to people with MR/DD. Instead, it’s merely a hurtful word coming out of the mouth of a celebrity.

    I think there’s been a sudden explosion of “We can be mega-offensive, as long as we’re careful to make fun of EVERYONE”, a la South Park. At this point, I think it’s all become rather boring …

    If you have to resort to jokes based on race, gender, sexuality, stereotypes, etc. then you’re probably not that funny. Sitcoms — the bitchy, hormonal wife, the stupid, lazy husband, and their bratty kids. Whatever. Outside of the history channel, national geographic, and the news I rarely watch TV anymore … I need more than “Are you retarded, or are you just on your period?” to be entertained.

  12. Echidnagirl says:

    Sister Wolf “My special need is for Ben Stiller to leave the planet” Can I use this in my next conversation? ’cause I totally love it.

    Hammie – “As for blackface, yes; but there was an african american actor on set and according to the post production interviews he was consulted and listened to when it was felt the portrayal was going TOO FAR.” With all due respect and totally agreeing with all the rest of your post I don’t see how consulting with a SINGLE african american actor employed on set and thus already implicated in the process makes him a really good judge as to whether going black face was a bit too far.

    This whole movie should be shit canned.

  13. Sloth says:

    I really shouldn’t read the comments on posts like this. Uptight people make me uptight.

  14. Robin says:

    Giant turd: best thing ever.

    Tropic Thunder: they’re just trying to stir the pot. I’m disappointed in Robert Downey Jr though… I really like him. Hammie’s comment (“As for blackface, yes; but there was an african american actor on set and according to the post production interviews he was consulted and listened to when it was felt the portrayal was going TOO FAR.”) made me laugh though – I think she was being sarcastic?

  15. annemarie says:

    the other day i was scolded for using the word “dwarf” to describe someone who had, well, dwarfism. i was told that the correct term for a such a person is “little person.” this was the first i heard that the word “dwarf” had been blacklisted, and it struck me as totally bizarre not least because “dwarfism” appears to be permissable yet “dwarf” is not, but also because (like Hammie) i’m from Ireland and over there the phrase “little people” is a euphemism for fairies.

    why “dwarf” is considered a “bad word” a mystery to me, but i do understand the problem with “retard.” that people use “retard” as an insult and that’s why there’s a problem with this film.


    i just find it difficult to chime in with everyone else and say that any word is “bad.” how can a WORD be bad? i think if a word has the ability to inflict grievous emotional damage to a person then there is obviously something much bigger (ie. grievous ignorance) going on. why don’t people, calmly, use this as an opportunity to talk about that and take the discussion to a more meaningful, intelligent level?

    or is it that as long as people use nice, clean language they can be as prejudiced as they like? focusing on a WORD and how BAD it is is such a bullshit white-wash and this whole discussion just seems really myopic.

    (i might be wrong about this but someone told me that the term “politically correct” was coined by a Republican think-tank in the eighties who were trying to find ways in which they could market themselves by paying lip-service to everyone and alienate no-one. the whole idea of black-listing words is rooted in hypocrisy.)

  16. hammie says:

    ah, yuh huh.

  17. enc says:

    Wow, look at all this discussion!

    I caught about 20 minutes of Rachel Zoe’s tv show the other day, and couldn’t believe the cavalcade of clowns. It was pretty pathetic.

  18. Juri says:

    I missed the turd and my electricity is still quite all right, thank you very much, but I do support retirement benefits and want to join you in getting a retirement/disappearance package to Ben Stiller.

    One humble question, though:

    Would it be totally inappropriate to ask that Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler fly on the same ticket to oblivion, and take along with them all the tapes/discs/evidence that they ever existed?

  19. I don’t believe you should try to ban anything unless you want to make it fierce popular. It didn’t work with the Sex Pistols, it didn’t work with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, it didn’t work with A Clockwork Orange or Last Tango in Paris (the original runaway giant turd). It won’t work with Tropic Thunder or retard either. But when people get insulted (the least of it) or murdered because of their difference (
    I just can’t not speak. Because I’m their Dad, and they can’t fucking well defend themselves. This is the first time I am actually close to fucking cracking since this row broke out and I AM TIRED of this giant runaway shit. Whatsyourproblemman itsajokeman chillthefuckoutman NO NO NO! Ben Stiller (Giant runaway little BS) can get as clever as he fucking well likes versus ‘Hollywood execs and the system’ as if he dropped in from planet fucking Karma but he is the system, he is the money, and I am not and the idiots whose vocabulary he is contracting are not and our worlds will collide more ofeten now thanks to his ‘hilarious sending up of actors’ Hardy har fucking fuck. It is probably an entire coincidence that his sidekick writer Etan Coen (no typo there) has just about one other credit to his name, the what-are-the-chances titled ‘My Wife is a Retard’. Think I made it up? feh. Ban it? No way. Slay them for unnecessary cruelty? Yes.But dontcha know we’re just wiring the fucking explosives for Dreamworks here.

    I’ll go. I don’t get to talk like this often enough. Sister Wolf I do so love your writing.

  20. Sister Wolf says:

    Nick, I’m here for you. Feel free to rant or just speak your mind any time here. xo

    Juri, we are such soulmates. Of course, Adam Sandler must be gone and his little friend Tom as well. I can’t even tell the difference between Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, to tell you the truth.

    annemarie, well. words are political, aren’t they, whether we like it or not. When I was a kid, a person with Down’s Syndrome was still called a mongolid idiot.

  21. emma says:

    thanks for your response sister wolf – i think i’ll reserve my judgement until I watch the movie. perhaps i’m naive in not even thinking they would hope for this sort of publicity – what a shame!

    i wait with anticipation for your next post 🙂

  22. The cure for ignorance and prejudice is information. People can educate themselves about autism by listening to the free Midnight In Chicago audio podcasts at By understanding what autism is and how it works, they will be less likely to call people with autism “retards” and be more likely to respect them.

  23. serpentine says:

    Am I the only person who had to look hard to see the difference between those Rachel Zoe photos? It looks like one or two sizes difference, plus a bit of boobage, not four. And what conclusion are we supposed to draw. That size doesn’t matter? Then that was a really shit illustration of the point. The interview is the most muddled collection of nothing ever. Can we get Laura Brown (the author) canned too please.

  24. Sister Wolf says:

    serpentine, I believe that lots of people felt like you do…they couldn’t find much difference between the pix. My conclusion was that Rachel Zoe should eat more, in order to look like a woman instead of a gaunt would-be pre-teen.

    Yes, Laura Brown may start looking for other work, since she’s useless as a journalist.

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