Slurs About Cognitive Disabilities on Screen

Normalization Bias  
Table Of Contents

Main Description

The Special Olympics considers the R-Word a slur and we do too. That word and others are common in movies & TV shows which normalize its use in every day life whether said jokingly or not. Liberals fight for disadvantaged minorities such as those with cognitive disabilities who are negatively affected by the constant use of the R-word. Conservatives these days love to falsely dismiss such concerns as "political correctness" or attacks on their "freedom of speech." Additionally, they often double down and use "political correctness" as a propaganda tactic trying to portray liberals as overreaching. The Trump administration even tried to cut funding for the Special Olympics until blowback made them reverse course.

The R-Word has been commonly used for so long, many people from all political spectrums have used it and still use it. But many more liberals are more mindful and have understood not to use it and are fighting to reduce its use in our every day culture. Unfortunately, Hollywood is everlasting and so anyone can go back and watch it used on older movies & TV shows before efforts were made to curtail its use. As part of that, we are calling out notable instances of its use on screen.

Conservative Trope Examples

  • The Hangover (2009)
    Alan mispronounces the word "retard" and when asked what he meant, mispronounces it again. Doug corrects him and says it's "RE-tard."
  • Waiting (2005)
    Monty (Ryan Reynolds) tells Dean (Justin Long) he can "get a job substitute teaching for r*tarded kids or something" after he asked what type of job he could get with an Associates Degree.
  • The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
    A woman asks Andy (Steve Carell) "are you f*cking r#tarded? What the hell is the matter with you?" after he asks her the same question twice during a round of speed dating.
    Staff Aside
    Cal (Seth Rogan) told him to "just ask questions" and apparently he took that literally.
  • Ocean's Twelve (2004)
    Topher Grace playing Topher Grace yells out, "Jesus Christ, are you people retarded? It says Do Not Disturb!" when Rusty knocks on his hotel room door. He trashed his room and talks erratically, "I'm sorry. Russ, look, I know this is your joint. I just... there's this girl. I love her, man. I love her, but she is driving me crazy! I can't sleep. I can't work. I quit the show. I totally phoned in that Dennis Quaid movie. I mean, it's like..."
    Staff Aside
    This is over the top self-deprecating satire about Hollywood actors, but not everyone will realize it. And humor and satire is a great way to subconsciously promote negative beliefs about actors, Hollywood and young people. And do not overlook the fact they picked a young actor over an older one for this role. That was purposeful as false negative stereotypes about young people are easy go-tos for laughs so it would not have been as funny as an older actor.
  • Half Baked (1998)
    Thurgood (Dave Chappelle) says "you've smoked yourself r*tarded" to Brian (Jim Breuer) after he offers to dress up as a Jamaican and meet with drug kingpin Mr. Sampson.
    Staff Aside
    Brian is white as white can be, so it would be pretty challenging for him to moonlight as a Jamaican.

How Trope is Biased


  • When slurs against cognitive abilities are depicted as normal on screen, people think it is ok to use them. Especially when actors in roles they like use them.

Conservative Biases

  • Conservatives have often marginalized minority groups in America siding with special interests over people with disabilities