LANGUAGE & REFERENCES

The R-Word

The R-Word became associated with intellectual disabilities in 1895 in order to replace idiot, moron, and imbecile. At first, all of these words were neutral, medical diagnostic labels, but became insults as society adopted them into casual speech. The R-Word was not derogatory until the 1960s.

In 2009, the Special Olympics started a campaign called Spread the Word to End the Word. Created by youths with and without intellectual disabilities, the campaign aims to “promote the positive contributions people with intellectual disabilities make to communities around the world.” In March 2009, they held the first Spread the Word to End the Word National Awareness Day, now an annual event. They ask people to sign a pledge to eliminate “retard” from their vocabulary.

John Franklin Stephens, a Special Olympics representative with Down syndrome said, “So, what’s wrong with ‘retard?’ I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that none of you would ever want to be.”

October 2010, Obama signed Rosa’s Law, requiring the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” in all federal records to be replaced with “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability.”

The use of the R-Word in Gruesome Playground Injuries enables us to understand Kayleen’s environment and attitude. It is likely that the word was normalized in her home or that she chooses to use it for impact. However, considering the wide amount of insults she uses, she most likely does not understand how offensive the word is. It also reflects Doug’s understanding, as he combats her usage of the word and eventually gives up.

 
References
  • Claims Adjuster: someone who investigates insurance claims to determine the extent of the insuring company’s liability and handles property claims involving damage to structures

  • Dracula: a character introduced in the 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker. The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. In an act of revenge, Dracula bites and curses Mina Harker, which audiences have romanticized as a love story.

  • Evel Knievel: an American stunt performer and entertainer who specialized in ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps. At the age of eight, he attended a Joie Chitwood Auto Daredevil Show, which inspired him to become a motorcycle daredevil.

    • “Every stitch on every scar just brought me closer to my dream afar. To be a man and do my best, to stand alone is my only quest.

  • Frankenstein: a novel written by English author Mary Shelley that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who attempts to learn how to create life. As in the script, the monster, whom Shelley called Adam, is commonly incorrectly referred to as Frankenstein. The creature is hated for his appearance, which includes several surgical scars.

  • Girl Scout Cookies: cookies sold temporarily by the Girl Scouts in an effort to teach young girls business skills.

    • Samoas: caramel and toasted coconut-covered cookies

    • Thin Mints: round, mint-flavored cookies with a chocolaty coating

  • The Limbo: a traditional popular dance contest that originated on the island of Trinidad. Doug claims that it is Mexican, but it is not. Trinidad was a Spanish island until 1797. It was colonized by France and then England. It gained independence in 1962. The dance, in which contestants see how low they can bend backwards under a pole, was popularized by Chubby Checker’s song “Limbo Rock.”

  • Ring Around the Rosie: a nursery rhyme that originated in the 1790s in Europe said to be associated with the Black Plague.

  • Stigmata: body marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet.

 
Insults
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