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April 13, 2005

{     How's Your News?     }    

_How's Your News?_ is the story of a half-dozen retarded people driving across the country in a RV conducting interviews for a fake news program. If that sounds positively tard-splotational you might be in for a bit of a shock. What sounds like the setup for a crude joke turns out to be one of the most heartwarming movies I've ever seen. The thing about a news program conducted by a person with mental disabilities is they just don't see news the same way as most of the world does. Disasters, wars, crime, products in your home that could kill you; these things don't concern the _How's Your News?_ crew. They interview everyday people about their normal lives with fascinating results. When a person with mental or physical disabilities (in some cases rather extreme ones) sticks a microphone in someone's face the conversations that come out of it are unpredictable, touching, and oftentimes humorous. Laughing at? Laughing with? It's a little bit of both, really. The _How's Your News?_ crew is savvy enough to realize that people will laugh at them. "It's okay to laugh," Ron Simonsen -- one of the most outgoing members of the crew who has an obsession with soap star Chad Everett and delivers a deadpan hilarious impression of him and other celebrities any chance he gets -- says, "We laugh at ourselves all the time." You can take a listen, right now over the Internet, to a taste of what the movie has to offer by listening to the "This American Life": story linked below.

     » How's Your News official website
     » How's Your News on This American Life

     » Buy it...


I remember seeing Lars Von Trier's "Idioterne" (The Idiots) a few years ago, and the strange feeling of conflict it creates within the viewer on the subject of tardsploitation, and how marvellously it lays bare your feelings about the handicapped.
Both "Idioterne" and "How's Your News?" offer an unflinchingly honest opportunity to enjoy and explore the dynamics of interaction between the handicapped and the supposed "normal" world, but perhaps your greatest entertainment value lies in stacking these films up against the glut of feel-good Hollywood handi-crap that truly earn the tardsploitation moniker.

I'm talking about films like "Radio" and "I Am Sam", where we're offered up stories of courage and triumph over adversity. Ostensibly, the purpose of these films is to educate the public and illuminate the plight of the handicapped, but the reality is that these films are manufactured to make "normal" people feel better about their own lives. They're tearjerkers, dropping emotional atomic bombs without ever really addressing the harsh realities of these situations. Even in those instances in which some measure of reality is injected into the script, these roles are invariably played by established Hollywood actors, not actual handicapped people. In the audience's mind, there's never a need to confront any true feelings concerning the handicapped because there's this mental safety net in place- Joe Public thinks to himself: "Thank God Sean Penn is not really retarted." or "Dustin Hoffman is doing a really good job of acting like he has autism." It's all a sham, and when no-talent fuckwads like Cuba Gooding Jr. get recognized for their "sensitive portrayal" of the sweetly handicapped I just want to throw up all over myself.

Posted by: Adam at April 13, 2005 7:21 PM
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