Sunday

Avenge This

While visiting with my son this afternoon the movie The Avengers came up. I mentioned the big deal the "he's adopted line" from the movie has caused online, with some people being offended, others offended at those that are offended.

Surprise to me my son said he knew. What? How'd you know, I asked him. I know he doesn't intentionally read adoption related blogs and articles. Does this mean the issues people have with the line are so far reaching that average people can't help but notice the cries of discrimination against adoptees?

Well, yup. That's what him knowing about the controversy means.

It's no surprise I want to know what he thinks of the line, how he took it when they watched the movie. For starters, he made it clear how the whole theatre, including him, burst out laughing. Must have been some delivery.

My son went on to say he doesn't at all understand the big deal being made out of the line. That he didn't feel that it was meant to be derogatory against adoptees, that it in any way said people who are adopted will become murdering machines solely because they are adopted.

Having not seen the movie I could only speculate on what my reaction would be based on everything I've read online. What I thought of immediately is how I couldn't begin to count the number of times I've said, "I'm adopted" with my hands in the air as a response to some family member doing something stupid, bad, embarrassing, whatever.

I thought, well, why is it ok if I do it but it isn't if an imaginary superhero does. Things is, it is ok that it was said. It wasn't meant to insult or discriminate against adopted people. It's something that's jokingly said to distance one's self from a family member who's effed something up and much of the time it's said by the adoptee them self.

Why do we have to make a big deal out of nothing when there are real issues to make a big deal out of? Like denial of access to our own records of birth and adoption.

Now that's something anyone can get their head around. Really. Anyone I've ever asked agrees that every human being has the right to know the circumstances of their birth and who their biological parents are.

Problem is is that they won't hear us if they have their fingers in their ears and are saying stfu you bunch of whiners.

23 comments:

  1. I have wondered why adoptees are sensitive to jokes like that because I normally laugh at them too but it's not my place to judge who should or shouldn't get offended by the jokes. I know as a birthmom that sometimes the jokes hurt me too though. A few days ago, my oldest son said to me... I lived the first 14 years of my life thinking I was the oldest and how they wouldn't give me away cause I was the first born. haha... he is being funny but I was leaving as the joke came up said I said real f*cking funny Alex.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no birthmothertalks, oh dear, the adoptee in me sees the humor in what your son said. I'm sorry! I can see how that could smart for a mom. Great example though of the adoption related kind if thing that gets said (in my life anyway) in an attempt at humor.

      Delete
  2. Cambell, looking back on it now I see how I probably shouldn't have yelled at him as I left. I don't think he was making a joke how I gave my daughter away but more so just talking about the realization that he had always thought he was the first born child when it wasn't true at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder birthmothertalks, did you tell Alex that? I think that's likely what he meant to joke about as well : )

      Delete
  3. My feeling on it (as a non-adoptee) is that if it is offensive to some adoptees, then it is offensive. Same way the word "retard" is offensive to me as a mom of a special needs child. People say "retard" all the time, even adults, and laugh when they say it. Part of me dies when that happens. This is another debate that has raged online and many many people think it is oversensitive to be offended by that word. My thought is why is it OK to make jokes about adoptees (or being adopted) or use the word "retard" when racial slurs are completely unacceptable. I don't like jokes or words that effectively put down a group of people.

    I do understand your point, which I think is that adoptees (and those who support adoptee rights) should not get bogged down with this movie and should focus on the the bigger picture. I agree to a certain extent. But the line in the movie just highlights the public perception of adoptees the same way calling someone a retard when they do something stupid highlights the public perception of those with an intellectual disability. Perhaps if the public perception were to change, real change in policy for adoptees would follow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kris. I look at the word retard, used the way you describe, as being a derogatory term. The term bastard is actually the derogatory term for a person born out of wedlock, which many adoptees are. Saying someone is adopted isn't a derogatory slur.

      I wonder, had the character said, "we're not biologically related" would it have been ok then? You do understand my point in part. The other part is that the character wasn't so much distancing himself from the adoptee as a brother or saying all adoptees are bad by virtue of being adopted but rather he was distancing himself from the adoptee's actions. The adoptee is a pretty bad dude from what I understand. Just because we're adopted doesn't mean we cant be held responsible for our behavior and how it affects those around us, including family.

      Delete
    2. I want to see the movie, one of my sons (not the adopted one) loved it. And I like black humor so would laugh at that joke. Some people see offense and political incorrectness everywhere they look and enjoy the sense of perpetual outrage this engenders. In the larger scheme of things it really is not worth getting upset about, where things like adoptees not being able to get their own OBC are. Pick your battles, pick your outrage, and lighten up a little on dark humor on any subject.

      Delete
  4. Good perspective - I like that you're staying focused on bigger issues.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh looky, a Lego Loki.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sorry. Here he is:
    http://lego.wikia.com/wiki/Loki

    ReplyDelete
  7. "I thought, well, why is it ok if I do it but it isn't if an imaginary superhero does."

    Perhaps it is not ok. I said something similar once to adoptive relatives. It was in regard to my adoptive family's strong penchant toward alcohol. I mentioned I was relieved to not share their DNA and was told I was out of line.
    Personally, I didn't think I was out of line. People will find anything to get offended about. Still it did seem disrespectful to rub salt in the wound so I mostly refrain from my DNA comments around them now.

    Personally, I wasn't offended by the line in the movie. After all, one of Loki's bio parents IS a demon. It explains a lot.
    Should Thor have pretended Loki wasn't adopted? Should Thor pretend Loki ISN'T half demon? That would kind of defeat the point of the entire movie.
    My understanding is that adoptive parents are equally upset by the line as it shows that their adoptees have a past. Silliness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect we all have DNA we're not proud of. As you say, it doesn't serve much purpose to call these things out to people.

      Delete
  8. Me making a joke about being adopted, as an adopted person, and laughing at myself is very different from non-adopted people laughing at a stereotype that harms my population.

    As someone whose birth state makes adoptees sign restraining orders in order to access their birth certificates, with a specific threat written in the law to the adoptee "do not cause harm," I do not feel like I am "whining" when I say I disliked the joke.

    The OBC issue and the stereotype issues are related. We cannot expect appropriate reform if the powerbrokers, legislators and society, only understand our needs, rights, and community based on stereotypes. The deranged adoptee "banging down" their mothers door to "disrupt her life" stereotype is one I encounter regularly in OBC reform work.

    I respect your opinion that you did not find it offensive. But having a different opinion does not mean I'm whining nor distracting from the larger issues either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly agree that the OBC issue and the stereotype issues are related. Unfortunately, labeling by a few pyschologists and psychotherapists has inadvertently encouraged this kind of stereotyping. Many people look no further than a book title or webpage headline for confirmation of their latent prejudices. There are also irresponsible people associated with adoption reform who like to attract attention to themselves by making lurid and unsubstantiated claims. They connect the wrong dots and present a distorted picture.

      If a similar comment had been made in a different framework, such as on Family Guy, I wonder whether it would have got the same reaction from the people who found The Avengers comment offensive. Context is über important.

      Delete
  9. Earthstaims.blogspot.ca has another adoptee point of view post written on The Avengers and Thor's "he's adopted line". Check it out. I'd link directtly to the post but the iPad is evil for blogging.

    Maybe it's adopted ; )

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sigh make that earthstains.blogspot.com sorry!

    ReplyDelete
  11. The South Park episode "Ike's Wee Wee" also explores whether family can only mean those who are biologically related.
    Ike is Kyle Broflovski's little brother. He was actually adopted and is really Canadian, which is why his head is all floppy. Kyle enjoys kicking Ike, but deep down inside loves him and defends him.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ike's_Wee_Wee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate when people say my head is floppy because I'm adopted! Grrrrrrrrr South Park

      Delete
    2. In most situations, when people use the term 'family', they mean the nuclear family.

      Delete
    3. That's the question "Ike's Wee Wee" was posing.
      Is that narrow definition of the term the only viable one?

      Delete
  12. Are you sure they don't say your head is floppy because you are Canadian?

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to flag your comment PRIVATE. I realize commenting can be intimidating so if you have something to say to me you'd rather not have published you're welcome to do so, just make sure you let me know it's private. If you want a reply, leave your email address.

I'm also completely fine with good anonymous comments. I've seen some great ones!