My son was four years old the first time I took him to see a movie in the theater. We saw Racing Stripes. I remember this in detail because early on in the movie, Wendie Malick’s character makes fun of a racing horse, saying it looked like it was having a seizure. My son has epilepsy. It felt like a punch in the gut. I don’t even think he caught it, but I did. And it made me MAD.
Last week I went to the movies by myself and soon completely lost my appetite for the bucket of popcorn in my lap when the preview for the new movie Tower Heist came on the screen. A star-studded film, sure to be a hit, with an awful too-long joke about a “seizure boy” in daycare. Right there in the trailer. Not cool, Hollywood.
I’m mad because it feels like he’s talking about my son, and I don’t want him to hear things like that someday. I’m mad because I have to hear it, and it hurts really way down deep. Ironically, just before the preview came on the screen, the theater showed an advertisement about special weekly movie showings for families of children with autism, offering “lights on” and “lowered sound.” Do they realize that many children with autism also have seizures? Could they or their parents be offended or hurt by the preview coming up next… YA THINK?!
I wrote an email to the movie theater and have yet to hear back. I won’t stop there, obviously. Crazy enough, I used to be a manager at the same theater and know how easy it is to snip and splice certain things right out OR! just not put a trailer on the beginning of a film. And yeah, that’s a lot to ask, but oh my gosh I would hate myself if I didn’t at least ask.
It sickens me that I feel like I’m the one that needs to take a chill pill. I get it that in a PG and up movie, an adult should be able to take the humor. But you know what? I still think it’s not okay. Epilepsy is serious no matter what age. It isn’t funny and should not be made fun of.
I’m only sharing the Tower Heist trailer below because you’re going to go look for it anyway, and honestly with that scene taken out, it looks like a fun movie. (The bit I am furious about starts at 1:18.) It’s not like I am calling for a boycott, but I would be really happy if this distasteful use of words brings awareness to be more careful about what you say- in real life and in movies. For more information, please visit The American Epilepsy Outreach Foundation and EpilepsyFoundation.org.
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