ups and downs and all-arounds
May 6, 2004 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Will they call Rosie courageous? Will she be as compelling and nuanced as Benny Stulwicz? Can this sort of portrayal come anywhere close to the real thing?
posted by dfowler (5 comments total)
The real thing:
posted by dhoyt at 11:13 AM on May 6, 2004

I have incredibly mixed feelings about a lot of these projects, and stuff like The Kids Of Widney High that was a cult item back in the late 80's/early 90's. On the one hand, like a lot of people I can listen or watch and find the lack of guile and pretense refreshing and even moving. On the other hand, I see some of the photos on this page and I kinda wanna cringe. I just imagine some asshole in the audience nudging his freind and saying "Lookit the retard," and it makes me mad.

When I worked in a bakery, I used to know a Downs Syndrome-sufferer named Vinny. He was agood worker and a likable guy who was freindly to just about everyone. A freind of mine had gone to high school with him, and said that, at dances, he would sometimes spontaneously breakdance and his classmates would cheer him on. Some had probably known him since grade school and were probably enjoying seeing him have a good time, but I'm sure there were others having a cheap laugh at his expense.

I suppose that's the response mentally handicapped people bring out. Sometimes mockery, sometimes pity, sometimes protectiveness, and sometimes a weird kind of envy at being that free of guile and self-conciousness. I remember having a cigarrette outside my work one day and watching a disabled girl stop to pet a greyhound and turn to me and say "Wow. What a pretty dog!" and wishing on some level that I could just say stuff lke that without worrying what people would think.

I suppose that's a very long winded way of saying that I'm extremely ambivalent about this kind of stuff.
posted by jonmc at 11:41 AM on May 6, 2004

Sounds like she will be the proud recipient of a Cyrus Dewey Award!

"It's been a big, brave year for us... as act-ors."

posted by tittergrrl at 12:20 PM on May 6, 2004

I taught English to Japanese junior high-schoolers for a few years at the end of the last century. Each grade was divided (randomly) into several classes -- first year (US 7th grade) class 1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5..., second year class 1, 2-2, 2-3, and so on. My school was one of the few in the district with a full-time special ed faculty. Class 10 was made up of a dozen kids whose disabilities ranged from mild retardation to severe physical and mental disability.

Part of my job was to present myself and America to all the students in the school. Each class period would have time for questions at the end. The "normal" kids would invariably ask, "Do you know SMAP? Do you know Kimutaku? Do you know [insert Japanese pop or TV star here]? Have you seen [such and such kids' show or movie]?"

My Class 10 kids asked me the stumpers: "Why did you come to Japan? What makes you want to teach us? Do you ever get homesick? What is the biggest difference between school in America and school in Japan?"

I guess it's a social ineptitude in Japan to ask personal questions of a near stranger. I understand what you mean, jonmc, about not worrying what people would think.

I wonder how many actors (and writers -- particularly writers) can really portray that curiosity, or more the lack of sensitivity about their own curiosity, which makes Class 10, in a way, smarter than the rest of us.

I know what you mean about the ambivalence, too. I spent an hour or so after every 10-class, alone, quietly reflecting on the questions they asked me. Quietly happy and sad at who they were -- the people they were -- the ones who reached out and carelessly eased my loneliness.
posted by dfowler at 12:47 PM on May 6, 2004

I encourage everyone to read Rachel Simon's book before (or rather than) seeing the movie, only because once you see Rosie O'Donnell in the part I imagine it will be hard to separate the two.
posted by soyjoy at 2:30 PM on May 6, 2004

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