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Awful Hype

May 29, 1988

The advertisements for the movie "Mortuary Academy" ("Where the dearly departed meet the nearly retarded") are awful, and awfully wrong.

Using the word retarded in its most derogatory sense further spreads the stereotype that mentally disabled people are inept, foolish and spastic. That notion is not only cruel but wrong.

All over the world, efforts to train and employ the mentally disabled for productive jobs and independent living have been uniformly successful.

Those responsible for this ad--including the studio execs who OK'd it--should visit places such as Oakland's Clausen House, where mentally disabled adults run a successful catering company. They should contact the Westside Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled in Los Angeles to see for themselves how little the facts of the "retarded" jibe with the stereotypes.

The ad is beneficial only in that it answers a troubling question: Why do some children laugh and point at the retarded? Because some parents still do.

Surely the parents responsible for this ad can find another slogan to hype their movie. The movie may be funny. The ad isn't.

ROBERT ESHMAN

Venice

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