Many of you know him as Dr. Cox on Scrubs. Most in the Ds community also know him as a loving father of Max, his 11 year old son who happens to have Down syndrome and who has been the Buddy Walk spokesperson for a few years. Shortly after moving to our current state, we started receiving a magazine called EP or Exceptional Parent. We didn't sign up for it and I've wondered if it's a part of EI, but we do enjoy it. In the latest volume 38 issue 12, John is on the cover. I've seen him speak about Max and Ds before and he did a great job once again. Here's an excerpt from his interview. BTW, John, I'm game to join a new militant arm of the NDSS any day!
EP: As someone with years of experience and great success in the entertainment industry, how do you feel about the portrayal of individuals with disabilities in television and film?
JCM: Well, I have a pretty strong feeling about that, mostly as it pertains to kids with Down syndrome because kids with Down syndrome have the physical markers of persons with challenges. I mean, you see some kids with autism, and you wouldn't know until you saw either their behavior--or something. Well, kids with Down syndrome have markers and so when you see cowards like the "Ben Stillers of the world" producing films like Tropic Thunder and dropping the "R" word 17 times in 5 minutes...well, I'll tell you something, when I see Ben, that just makes me want to pick on HIM now. Because there's no militant arm of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) that's going to respond to a transgression--like there is in the Jewish community with the Anti Defamation League. Or, God forbid, you go and say something against African Americans; you're going to have the NAACP in your kitchen. We don't have the militant arm at NDSS. We have kids who when THEY go to a protest, it looks funny because they ARE so nice, and you know damn well they would rather have a hug than hold a placard. So, it really cuts me to the core. And it feels like the perfect storm of cowardice when you pick on people who can't return service. So for Ben Stiller--who directed Tropic Thunder he is just a punk coward.
EP: So Ben Stiller is not a friend of yours?
JCM: He couldn't possibly be a friend of mine. Because he worked with the Farrelly brothers--doing Something About Mary--and the Farrelly brothers have championed a lot of special needs causes. So there is no way that you're not--if you're Ben Stiller--aware that you're perpetuating a negative stigma and that your doing something hurtful. And so while I don't want to be another actor who's going to tell somebody how to talk and what's politically correct and what's not, if you're aware that you're hurting either caregivers or people with Down syndrome, what's the upside?
I don't like exclusionary language. I hate it. Because all it does is perpetuate negative stigmas about different groups. And where's the upside? The upside, I assume, is when people use language like that is that someone is trying to elevate themselves by denigrating whoever the subject is. And it doesn't work that way. It just makes you a jackass. And I loathe it. I hate bullies and that to me, is like bully language. I loathe it.