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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Monday, September 07, 2009

THE ‘RETARDED’ POLICEMAN – GOOD OR BAD GUY?

A few days ago, I was surfing the net for some comic relief and I stumbled into short films produced by Mediocre Films forming a series called The Retarded Policeman. This series of short films appear to have made a big hit amongst youtube users. Forgetting for a minute the negative term ‘retarded’ used in the title, I was left rather unsure of what to make of the series.

The series is really simple in that there is this police officer with an intellectual impairment who pulls over drivers and exposes them to a range of unexpected behaviour. You must be warned that the officer's behaviour ranges from the utterly banal to the gross. I admit this is not my kind of humour... Anyway, the 'retarded' policeman's actions tend to enforce many stereotypes people have about people with an intellectual impairment. I have identified some of them which might help you get the picture, including the idea that people with intellectual impairments are no more mature than young children, that they cannot control their sexual urges and that they can be unpredictable or violent.

In another situation, I would have clearly stated that such a series promoted negative ideas about disabled people - in this case people having an intellectual impairment. However, here matters are complicated because the star of the series, Josh Perry, is himself a person with Down syndrome. Some may think that he is being 'exploited' and all that by Mediocre Films but I don't think it's the case. Indeed, the films he appears in seem to challenge the notions we might have about people with an intellectual impairment in some ways. After all, there have been comedies in which black people, for example, make fun of themselves. What's the difference here?

On the other hand, should we run the risk of having humour that might help in further excluding part of the disabled community that has suffered a lot from the breach of their human rights (such as forced sterilisation and abortion) - not to mention negative attitudes leading to institutionalisation and denial of their human status? Yet, a lingering thought remains bothering me - would it preferable if people never saw Josh Perry in his youtube role, yes even as a 'retarded' policeman?

Would it not mean that, once again, we are undermining the ability of people with an intellectual impairment to decide for themselves and to follow their wishes? Finally, isn't the fact that non-disabled people can relate to, in a particular way, with an intellectually disabled people pave the way for more chances for different groups to understand each other? Not to mention the possibility of creating new working opportunities for people with an intellectual impairment in acting roles apart from drama or tragedy?

Of course the question is open and I'm still not 100 percent sure if there's a right answer. However, what I know is that it's a fact that thousands, if not more, people have enjoyed watching Josh Perry in the series that he has become an internet star. That really sets me thinking..

If you want to have your say, send me an email with "Your View" in the subject line.

1 comments:

Kristopher said...

i'm glad that you're at least considering this. when i saw this i felt terrible, and the funny thing is it was nothing but a laugh to the people around me. Watching this had no effect on my perception of people with down syndrome, but it did have an effect on my view of the people around me, who didn't think twice of the social ramifications of this and laughed liberally and long AT and not WITH
the star of the show. if only the star of the show could understand, but unfortunately he is like a kid, a four year old repeating the same lyrics of a popular and degrading song in front of cheering grandparents on christmas eve. i suppose if he was actually 4 this could be a funny home video. this is not the case, however. tell me what you think, glendonjoao@hotmail.com