Kids Grow Up

Amy Baskin's blog on parenting young adults with special needs

Something to Cheer About: BRING IT ON banishes the “R word”

Photo Credit: Jerry Bunkers via Filckr

When you hear the “R word” in a tv show or live theatre don’t you wish you could do something about it? Read on for my GREAT news story!

I’m sitting with hubby Jack and my daughters at the musical BRING IT ON at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. Since it’s about high school students, cheerleading and the importance of being yourself, it’s perfect for my high school girl, Talia. In fact, we’re all thrilled by the high energy music, cheerleading flips and the funky dance moves.

And then it happens. We hear two appalling lines of dialogue that make us wince:

  • A math-averse student says he’s a “trigtard.”
  • A main character says to a girl struggling with self-esteem:”There’s a fine line between special and Special Ed.”

Oh no. Talia, who has autism, is in Special Ed. She also happens to be an avid theatre goer and a computer whiz.  And we think she’s pretty special. As we leave the theatre my eldest sums up what we’re all feeling: “The show was fantastic–except for those two lines. It made me sad.”

For once, instead of just fuming, I emailed the show with my concerns. Specifically, I asked them to change those two derogatory and hurtful lines.

Soon after, I received a warm email from Mike Isaacson, Co-executive Producer of the show. He explained that much of the characters’ insensitive language drives the plot of the story. But he agreed that these words don’t really fit with a show that promotes acceptance and inclusion. It seems they’ve been wrestling with this language for some time.

And here’s the amazing part. When BRING IT ON heads to Broadway, the authors will alter those two lines of script. Plus those lines will be changed in any future scripts. (They can’t be changed for the Toronto performances since a full rehearsal would be needed, Isaacson explains.)

Kudos to Isaacson and the BRING IT ON team for listening, for sensitivity and for quick action. With a tweak in the script, this show will make everyone in the audience cheer. If you’re in the Big Apple in the summer or fall, check it out!

Your turn. Have you spotted the R word in live theatre or tv lately?


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4 thoughts on “Something to Cheer About: BRING IT ON banishes the “R word”

  1. That’s great news, Amy! I came across a blog, The R-word Reporter, and their mission is to end the use of that word too…

  2. Anchel Krishna on said:

    Hey Amy – Great post! Such a small change can make a very big difference.

    I’m blogging over at now. You’ve left big shoes to fill and I wanted to let you know that so many of your posts were absolutely touching. I remember the letter to a young special needs mom was particularly timely for me. Just wanted to take a moment to say thanks!

  3. i think its fine to use it respectfully..i have a son who is deaf and mentally retarded, and i am not ashamed of that fact. what makes me sad is that people think its funny to make fun of children in that neighbors son taunted my older child for having a “stupid retard” for a brother. ugh.

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