Movie Review: Radio

Kunk Fu Zoby Kung Fu Zu   4/6/14
Radio is a 2003 film about how the loving kindness of one individual can create a wonderful new world for another. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays the title character, Radio, a mentally handicapped young black man who wanders the streets of a late 1960’s or early 1970’s South Carolina town with an old grocery cart containing his various belongings. Among these are different radios, for which he has a fascination.

The film begins with Radio pushing his cart along the fence line of T.L. Hanna high school during football practice. A football flies over the fence and Radio picks it up, putting it in his shopping cart. A football player, the star running back Clay, tells Radio to throw it back over the fence, but Radio, in his own world, does not notice and moves down the sidewalk with his cart.

Shortly thereafter, the coach, played by Ed Harris, finds Clay and eight other football players fooling around banging on the walls of the equipment room. He enters the hut and finds Radio cowering in a corner bound by athletic tape. The coach cuts the tape, trying to soothe Radio while doing so. He takes Radio home to his widowed mother, who does her best to take care of Radio, but is clearly overworked and could use help.[pullquote]…coach’s daughter, who feels somewhat neglected, says he’s got the whole town feeling sorry for Radio, and coach responds that Radio doesn’t need people feeling sorry for him, he needs people to try and understand him.[/pullquote]

Coach decides to take Radio under his wing and starts by letting Radio stay around the football field during practice. During this time, Radio watches the students as they play and interact with each other. He also gets to do such things as pick up balls and bring them back to the field.  Coach later allows Radio to sit in on classes, and generally follows the coach around the school. The viewer sees Radio blossom from a shy solitary man, who could barely speak at the beginning of the film, to a happy outgoing chatterbox who has found a place in the world.

Of course, this does not happen without difficulties. The school’s black female principal is, understandably, concerned about having a “severely, mentally retarding black man” in her high school, but she trusts coach and gives him room to maneuver. The local school board sends in a stereotypical bureaucrat who is in favor of getting Radio into an institute of some kind.

Finally, and most seriously, there is the underlying resentment Clay feels for Radio.  This surfaces when Clay and a couple of other athletes approach Radio, while he is folding towels in the boys locker room after school.  Clay tells Radio that the female athletics teacher has asked for him to come over to the girls’ locker room to pick up something. Radio is hesitant to do this as it is not in his routine. But Clay assures him, there is no problem as the girls have already left. Radio walks over and enters the female locker room and, of course, it is full of girls who react as one would expect. Poor Radio, mortified and confused, runs out in a panic.

This incident gets back to the principal who tells coach that she realizes Radio was hoodwinked and while there was no ill intent in his actions, she is concerned that he might do something worse simply because someone tells him to do it. Coach assures her that he will keep a closer eye on Radio and a crisis is avoided. The film proceeds with different scenes showing some of the ups and downs which are part of a mentally handicapped person’s existence.

The film’s climax comes when Clay’s banker father calls various townspeople, including the principal, to a meeting kept secret from coach.  The banker intends to convince everyone of the need to have Radio removed from the school, because he is a distraction and hurting Hanna’s athletics’ department. (Not to mention the fact that coach has come down hard on Clay for the way he has treated Radio.) The meeting is held in the local barbershop, which is the spot where people gather after each home game of the season.

Coach gets wind of the meeting and drops in with his wife and daughter.  He makes clear that he knows what the meeting is about and understands there might be concern for next year’s football team. He tells them how football is a game which he has loved all his life and is something he looks forward to every year. But, he says, years back his daddy told him to focus on what is important and put the rest to the side. Then he says “Radio is more important than football.” Therefore, he will retire from coaching. This stuns the crowd to silence and the coach and his family leave the barbershop. Once they have left, everyone there starts giving Clay’s father the hell which he so richly deserves.

The final scene starts with band music blaring and a full screen displaying a Hanna High School Yellow Jackets banner, about the size of a billboard, stretched across an end zone.  Suddenly a middle aged black man bursts through the banner, followed by young football players in full padding. This is the real Radio who, almost thirty years later, is still connected with the school. He and Coach are still close and the viewer can be sure they will remain so, until one or the other shuffles off this mortal coil.

I found Radio to be a wonderful movie. It is especially touching as it is based on a true story.  The chemistry between Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ed Harris was excellent. Gooding’s portrayal was believable and touching. Harris as the stern, laconic, yet deeply moral Coach was even better.  I read somewhere that Gooding Radiowon a Golden Raspberry Award for his role.  This makes me wonder whether or not those who voted him this award have had any contact with the mentally handicapped; probably not.  I suspect they are generally great advocates for the mentally handicapped as long as the unfortunates don’t appear to be afflicted. Reality can be uncomfortable.

There as many small moments and mannerisms in the movie which ring true as regards the handicapped. For example, the first time Radio walks by the high school field after being tied up, he is hesitant to accept coach’s invitation to come into the gym until coach mentions that they have some good hamburgers inside. Upon hearing this, Radio decides to follow. Another instance is when coach and Radio are sitting on the bleachers talking, and Radio reaches up to straighten out coach’s coat collar which is askew.

Perhaps most importantly, when loading their pickup with Christmas presents for Radio, coach’s daughter, who feels somewhat neglected, says he’s got the whole town feeling sorry for Radio, and coach responds that Radio doesn’t need people feeling sorry for him, he needs people to try and understand him.  How true.  Coach knows, although others may not understand it, that Radio has feelings and desires like normal people.  Finally, I liked the subtle way the movie shows how a handicapped person learns little by little, but still learns, especially if treated with patience and love.

Radio is a good representation of a part of life that most people neither understand nor wish to be confronted with. It shows, in a powerful way, how individuals can make a positive difference in others’ lives. To my mind, coach showed true love by his actions. He took it upon himself to get involved and, through his involvement, got others to help.

And coach’s involvement did not come for free. He did not simply mouth platitudes about love and the like. It was his active participation, which cost him time and emotion and hurt him professionally, that made the difference. But he still decided it was worth the effort.  During his talk in the barbershop, coach mentions how much Radio has learned during the short time he has been part of their lives,  but he then points out how much more Radio had taught him and many others who were lucky enough to be around him.

There have been a number of posts about love recently and while I don’t know enough to definitely say much about God and theology, I think I can say coach shows us what true love is. It is not an abstract catch-all with which we can define existence. Love in the abstract is pretty useless. If good is to come out of love, action must follow it.  Coach is patient and kind. He is not boastful or selfish. For love of Radio, he faces every problem which arises. For the love of Radio, he endures and stands for truth. Talking about love is always easy and sometimes cheap. Acting upon it can be difficult.

So my suggestion, to those truly concerned with the nature of God, is to get out and shower your unselfish love upon those who need it, which means virtually everyone. Airy speculations about that which is not knowable are fine and good, but if you wish to bring Love into the world then you must go out and spread it. Watching the movie, Radio, might be a good place to start. After seeing it, you may gain some ideas as to how you might “made a difference.” Not by theoretically trying to change “the world.” Rather, by going out and helping someone in a concrete, material way. Individual active kindness is a powerful thing. And I suspect that practicing it will help anyone get closer to God’s nature than by merely writing about it. • (4019 views)

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32 Responses to Movie Review: Radio

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Cuba Gooding Jr. is fan-[expletive deleted]-tastic in this movie. I loved your review. Damned if it didn’t almost bring a tear to my eye. I say “almost” because real men don’t cry.

    I saw this once probably five years ago. It’s available for streaming on Netflix. I may give it another go.

  2. Pokey Possum says:

    “So my suggestion, to those truly concerned with the nature of God, is to get out and shower your unselfish love upon those who need it, which means virtually everyone.”

    Upon reading this I cannot decide whether to send you a “virtual” high-five, belly-bump, or hug… here’s all three! Yep, Love. It is the force by which, I believe,the universe was formed, and through which we are transformed.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      “through which we are transformed.”

      Which is more transformational, loving or being loved? I believe the former. One is passive, one should be active. One gives and the other receives.

      I don’t know who said it, but my personal motto has become, “no act of kindness, however small, goes wasted”. Trying to live up to this is both easy and difficult.

      • Pokey Possum says:

        Hi KFZ! I like your motto. Because it is not wasted, there is a fantastic synergy in acts of kindness. Can you imagine a culture where everyone adheres to being kind? I was born in 1961, perhaps a decade too late to witness the tail-end of such a culture. I’m not sure how it happened that those moral principals that where so prevelant in our country and lifted us, even propelled us, to lofty heights morphed within the social conciousness into a heavy yoke to be thrown down and despised by so many. (Or perhaps it’s not so many, but only seems that way from what we see in all forms of media). So, the pendulum swings. We can only wonder what new frontier awaits the coming generations when the pendulum reaches its climax of degradation and begins to swing in the ‘right’ direction. For the sake of our great country, we must hope it is a pendulum and not a train.

        It, this swing back to the ‘right’, will gain momentum when the masses learn what you know: the giving of love can be very transforming and beneficial to the giver. Yet, there is one love, that when it is received has the greatest transforming power of all – God’s love for us. “We love because He first loved us.”-1 John 4:19 (ESV)

        • Pokey Possum says:

          Look Brad, look! I did italics!

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Excellent. Now we can all be just that bit more communicative…or at least geeky.

            Not that I need to tell you, but note that the best writers, such a Glenn, make very spare use of italics, bold type, all caps, etc.

            But go ahead and have fun with it too. They’re your words.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The funny thing is, I don’t think the language police have been successful in stoking the kind of respect and understanding for the handicapped that they suppose. Call them “mentally challenged” instead of “retarded” and that might make a person feel better himself. And certainly names do change over time. And there’s no good in actually insulting the handicapped.

    But I think the best line from this review is when you mentioned that it wasn’t pity that Radio needed but understanding. Pity is a natural and potentially good reaction — a good first reaction, maybe. But after that it too easily slides into condescension. It too easily is an emotion that simply protects us, that puts space between us and the other.

    We might also do the opposite and romanticize the handicapped. We might look at a Down syndrome child, so smiling and seemingly carefree when we see them in the park, and think, “What a special person.” And, indeed, I believe there are attributes of the handicapped that are superior to our own, or at least inform us of our own stupid obsessions and conceits.

    But understanding means getting beyond either the pity or dripping romanticism and just taking the person as they are. They are different, for sure. But they are.

    And who wouldn’t want their tax money to help (in ways that don’t hurt) people such as Radio? But how sad that all that money is syphoned off for causes that have little to do with helping anyone and everything to do with cementing dependency constituencies. Coach did what he did and he didn’t have to wait for a Federal grant. This movie is refreshing and shows what American life is supposed to be like.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The problem with getting rid of “bad” language (such as “cripple”) is that there will always be some word, and in time it will acquire the “bad” qualities of the old word. This is why they have to keep banning more and more words — which in any case comes naturally to adherents of IngSoc.

      Incidentally, I will mention here Elizabeth Moon’s novel The Speed of Dark, about autistic children. (The title comes from one wondering what the “speed of dark” is since we already know the speed of light.)

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      “I believe there are attributes of the handicapped that are superior to our own, or at least inform us of our own stupid obsessions and conceits.”

      Their concerns are certainly more down-to-earth and simple. They live for the moment and are not terribly concerned with a lot of material things. In most cases that I have seen, if one treats them with respect and a little understanding, they are quite content. They don’t require much more.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Most of them maybe, but certainly not all. One former member of our local fan community was blind, but her biggest handicap was that she believed that the universe had shat on her (which arguably was true, since that wasn’t her only physical handicap) and thus that everyone OWED HER. This led to a graceless attitude toward those who helped her, and eventually to being angry at them if anything went wrong, which eventually led to them ceasing to help out. (I was one of them.) Even other blind fans didn’t like her.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Since the string was attached to the review of Radio, I was referring to the mentally handicapped. I should have been more specific.

          “and thus that everyone OWED HER. This led to a graceless attitude toward those who helped”

          Sounds like a lot of people who one encounters today, particularly if they don’t get what the want, when they want it. And the only handicap these people have is lack of education and character.

          As to the physically handicapped, those I have met were pretty much similar to the general population. Which is a pretty good record as far as I am concerned, given the burdens under which they often have to labor. Of course, there are ass-holes in all walks of life.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I watched “Radio” today at the end of the day at work with my younger brother. I had seen it about five years ago, but it was good to watch it again. The overall I remembered but not all the details.

    Something that didn’t come through in Mr. Kung’s excellent review is just how damn funny this movie is. Cuba Gooding Jr. is hilarious in his little mannerisms and such. And it really is a case where you’re laughing with him, not at him. I was howling all throughout this movie. The subtlety of Gooding’s performance is what did it.

    I thought the highlight was when the new cop — who had previously arrested Radio under suspicion of theft — had the tables turned on him and had to assist Radio in handing out the Christmas presents. Perfect.

    Mr. Kung can also be forgiven for not pointing out something about this movie that impressed me very much: The football sequences were all very exciting and well done. Maybe “Rudy” is another stand-out in this regard. But most sports films are filmed with little imagination or sense of pacing. For a supposed tear-jerker film, there was skill all around being shown, including the soundtrack by James Horner.

    And who couldn’t break down and cry like a little girly-man when bad-boy, ace-quarterback, and all-around stud, Johnny — who had tortured Radio throughout this movie — at the end gives Radio a letterman jacket for the letter he had won?

    And for a minute there, near the end of the film when Coach and Radio where catching flack from everyone, I thought I had suddenly been transported into a sci-fi movie. Debra Winger was playing a vigorously supportive wife. What universe had I suddenly materialized into? How often do you see that (either in movies or in real life)? Love lifts us up where we belong. Still, I hear that such a thing is possible.

    This movies stabs you in the heart…if you have one. I noticed that this movie is rated pretty low at There’s even a thread there going on about how bad Gooding’s acting was. I think it still disturbs many yutes today to see reality, to see a little piece of humanity that is beyond the facile. I think had Gooding done maybe a crude characterization of a retarded man, maybe that would have been applauded by these types.

    I’m certainly no fan of movies or commercials that push sentiment for sentiment’s sake. But if you can’t open yourself up to a movie such as “Radio,” then there’s something severely wrong with you.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I am glad you watched the movie again, as it was my hope that people would have a look at the film.

      I agree Gooding is very humorous and has the mannerisms down pat. The humor and joy which he displays spreads happiness to others’ lives. This is something which is quite common with the mentally handicapped.

      It is good you liked the film and I hope others will watch it as well. Thanks for covering some of the points I missed.

      In the short span of about 90 minutes, it gives a good representation of a slice of life that many are not familiar with. In a way, it is educational.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The humor and joy which he displays spreads happiness to others’ lives. This is something which is quite common with the mentally handicapped.

        Coach has a great line from the film: Radio’s the one who has been teaching us. The way he treats us all the time is the way we wish we treated each other even part of the time.

        I think someone such as Radio, because he is so child-like, changes (or can change) the rules. We can relate to them somewhat like children. It’s “okay” to be nice.

        But in the world of adults, there’s a damn good reason we don’t treat each other that way: Not only are we in competition, but there’s a one-in-four chance that the other guy is going to try to pick your pocket. It’s not by chance that they say that you can love and trust your family, and a few close friends, but that’s generally about it.

        In the perfect world, all dogs go to heaven, all tears are wiped dry, and — in the words of Wilford Brimley in the movie “Cocoon” — “We’ll never be sick, we won’t get any older, and we won’t ever die.” In the real world we are right to be suspicious of people and not treat them as if we were living inside a Jonathan Livingston Seagull novel.

        And if one wishes to break these rules, one has to be somewhat like Ed Harris and not give a flying fig what other people think. And that’s because people are going to be made very uncomfortable by altruistic behavior, as we see in this film. (True altruism, not the faux altruism so many “activists” on the left are involved in where it’s actually all about them.)

        Instances of good remind us of our own shortcomings. And we wonder, “What’s that fellow really up to?” And it’s not pure cynicism. It’s experience. And they realistically play up this angle in the film where even those sympathetic to Coach are wondering why he is doing what he is doing.

        To be good means being courageous. You can’t have the one without the other, at least in this world. And, generally speaking, you can’t run with the pack and be good. The pack itself is an amoral animal, at best.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          “(True altruism, not the faux altruism so many “activists” on the left are involved in where it’s actually all about them.)”

          One sees instances of this faux altruism all the time.

          I know of a case of this involving an organization called “Best Buddies”. This is a charity set up by some of the Kennedy clan which has the stated goal of pairing normal kids with handicapped kids for a long term relationship.

          They went into an area with a lot of hoopla. T-shirts were sold, banners were made and a pizza lunch party was thrown. People’s expectations were raised and then there was silence. From what I can tell, nobody knows why.

          As a somewhat skeptical type, I can’t help but wonder if it is simply all about padding another Kennedy resume’ for the time he/she runs for Congress.

  5. Rosalys says:

    “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22
    You got it right, Mr. Zu.

    Sometimes it’s difficult for people to know how to act around the mentally ill because they just don’t know how to act around the mentally ill. Lack of exposure. My mother has Alzheimers and is now in a memory care facility. Because I love my mother I go to visit her. Because I visit her I am exposed to a segment of the population I normally would not be. I have come to know some people I normally wouldn’t have any reason to know. Trapped though they may be in a deteriorating mind and body they each still have their own individual personality. When you come to know them you begin to love them.

    This sounds like a wonderful movie. We don’t have Netflix so I’ll have to wait until it comes up on TCM or one of the other old movie channels, but at least now I’ll be watching out for it. I love how this site reviews old movies!

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Sometimes it’s difficult for people to know how to act around the mentally ill because they just don’t know how to act around the mentally ill.

      True. And I think they don’t know how to react about movies about the mentally ill.

      I like keeping an eye on how modern movie-goers rate movies, which is one reason I keep an eye on

      I take it for granted that we have deteriorating tastes. I like to think I have great taste in movies, developed over a long time and much stretching of my own inclinations by viewing a variety of films and styles. Surely there are people who are wine connoisseurs, music connoisseurs, and others of refined tastes. There’s nothing wrong with drinking two-buck-chuck. But there really is such thing as an appreciation for quality — an appreciation that goes quite beyond mere conceit (although one can easily blend into the other). is known for “grade inflation.” That is, even the most mediocre movies show up with an 8 or higher rating with various “Batman” or “Ironman” blockbusters being rated higher than “Casablanca.” “Radio” has a mere 6.9 rating on this grade-inflation scale which means, for all practical purposes, that the reviewers didn’t like it very much.

      I like reading the reviews there to get ideas for my own, or just to see what people are thinking. Often there are some great reviews. But you have to work hard to find them. They tend to get pushed to the back. A typical and obvious mediocre movie will tend to get scads of obsequious and glowing reviews. It is then that you understand that either people have no taste or they cannot contradict whatever the culture at large says is good.

      I read a great article not long ago by Dan Flynn (or someone) who noted the phenomenon of predominantly liberal audiences laughing at things that aren’t intrinsically funny. The idea was that they have, like Pavlov’s dog, been trained through political correctness and other artificial influences about what should be funny — and thus to not laugh at the right things is to show you’re not cool, hip, and in-the-know.

      I’m pretty sure this phenomenon applied to “Radio.” We might easily forget just how banal, senseless, and indoctrinated many people have become. I was laughing-out-loud nearly constantly at all the funny little innocent things that Cuba Gooding Jr. was doing as an actor as he portrayed (realistically, in my opinion) a mentally retarded person. The things he was doing were cute and innocent.

      But it occurred to me (finally) that your modern, stilted, indoctrinated, programmed, hemmed-in movie-going audience — dowsed with political correctness like dumping fetid fish brine on the pier — could not laugh at the antics of a black retarded man.

      It’s just a theory. But I wouldn’t be surprised if “Radio” crossed up people in a way that they didn’t know how to handle. You’re just not supposed to laugh at a black guy, let alone a retarded one.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        “all the funny little innocent things that Cuba Gooding Jr. was doing as an actor as he portrayed (realistically, in my opinion) a mentally retarded person.”

        Note his lack of eye contact, which is very common among the mentally handicapped. Very realistic.

        And I think you may be on to something with your remarks about not laughing at a retarded person. Yet, they can be so happy if you laugh with them.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Mr. Kung, did you ever see “Children of a Lesser God“? It’s been probably twenty years since I first viewed that, so I don’t remember much about it. But the title somewhat says it all. It’s streamable on Netflix. I watched about the first 20 minutes of it just now.

          I’m pretty sure this was Marlee Matlin’s debut — a beautiful and talented girl. William Hurt is good in his role as a teacher for the deaf. It’s pretty much a romance, bordering on a chick-flick, if I remember correctly.

          But that title is something. It’s surely a shot at God. And God deserves more than a few shots, and not just because he’s standing in the way of an earthly Utopia by the impatient, spoiled, caterwauling minions of the narcissistic Red Diaper Doper Babies and new-age freaks who have no tolerance for not getting things their way exactly when they want it.

          No, God has a lot to answer for in regards to — well — why are some people born deaf? What purpose does that serve? . . . which reminds me of a mildly interesting movie, “The Man Who Sued God.”

          There are those who say the existence of the Children of a Lesser God are purposefully there to evoke sympathy in us. And who cannot say that such people often do just that? They put us in our place. People obsess over the stupidest crap you can imagine. People generally do not appreciate what they have. These “lesser” people show us a side of life we have often distanced ourselves from in our pursuit of various vanities.

          On the other hand, God can just be glad that he isn’t trying to become CEO of Mozilla, for his crimes against political correctness are long and varied. I mean, first off, women weren’t given a penis. That alone would get him jailed with threats of an IRS anal exam.

          I do like William Hurt, generally speaking. He’s sort of a girly-man with balls, if that makes any sense. By that I mean that he’s the sort of “sensitive” man that is all the rage these days. But he’s not a complete wuss. He hit his height in the 80’s with “Body Heat, “The Big Chill,” “Gorky Park,” “Children of a Lesser God,” “Broadcast News,” and “The Accidental Tourist.” His resume’s been a little thin since then, but that was a good run. He’s also good in 2007’s under-rated “Mr. Brooks.” And as my brother pointed out, be sure to see him in 2010’s “Robin Hood” with Russell Crowe: truly one of the worst movies made in the last 25 years. It makes Costner’s Robin Hood seem good by comparison.

          It was definitely a Lesser God who made that Crowe version. I still want those two hours of my life back.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I know Hurt best as Caligula in the PBS version of I, Claudius, but he also appeared in the 1980s version of 1984 as Winston Smith, and in a TV production of King Lear as the Fool. (In that version, Laurence Olivier was Lear and Diana Rigg was Regan, and thus got to deliver my favorite line from the play, after the blinding of Gloucester: “Turn him loose, and let him smell his way to Dover.”)

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              You may be thinking of John Hurt, Timothy. But I would have loved to seen William in that role…or maybe not. Remember “Kiss of the Spider Woman”? I’m still trying to forget that.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Well, I’m Hurt to find that I confused two different actors. Well, I never claimed to be an expert.

          • Rosalys says:

            I guess there is no accounting for taste. I liked the Crowe version of Robin Hood.

      • Rosalys says:

        I love to watch the old movies and some of them were great! [Yesterday I watched Anatomy of a Murder with Jimmy Stewart. 1954 I think. Great Movie!] But, let’s face it, they made a lot of garbage back in the old days, too! Even the old garbage can be fun (funny) to watch. A lot of this crap that the left fawns over won’t stand the test of time.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          What I watch on TV tends to be a combination of Fox News, baseball games (and I learned yesterday that we do get Fox Sports 1), and old movies, especially on TCM. I do watch some short series, such as several History Channel series (and I watched AMC’s Turn Sunday).

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Mr. Kung, I watched about the first half of “Children of a Lesser God” yesterday. It’s another film about the handicapped and sort of goes together with this one.

    William Hurt plays the newfangled, progressive-methoded, over-educated upstart who is hired at a new school and plays the role of a hip, touchy-feely kind of teacher. He has new methods, and some of them seem sensible to me, although what do I know?

    The kids in this movie would seem to be a real portrayal of deaf kids. They may even has chosen deaf actors, for all I know. This movie is refreshing in that the kids (and Sarah Norman, played by Marlee Matlin) are not over-sentimentalized. They are real people, and not perfect angels by any means.

    I’ll report back more on this film when I’m finished. But what occurred to me is the cultural phenomenon that has occurred ever since “awareness” films such as these made being handicapped not quite the stigma it used to be. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that. These kids (or adults) deserve our sympathy not our condemnations.

    But perhaps it was inevitable that as soon as the handicapped became not just accepted by the object of sentimentality and benefits that the ranks of the “handicapped” have swelled. Instead of people working through whatever limitations they have (and we all have them), they are nowadays too quick to self-identify themselves as wounded little birds with a broken wing. And it’s gotten to the point (and I’ll name no names) where people who simply stuff too many donuts in their mouth get “handicapped” license plates because they are obese.

    I also know a woman (and her numbers are now legion) who is a little wounded sparrow on Social Security Disability because of a ginned-up disease. I’m not for bringing back stigma to the handicapped, but we perhaps ought to stigmatize those who too quickly use the status of handicapped to become moochers.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


      I have never seen the movie, but do recall it was pretty popular. I liked the early William Hurt, but agree that his later work doesn’t come near that which he did in the eighties.

      I do recall Marlee Matlin was in a TV series for some years, but I can’t recall the name.

      “But perhaps it was inevitable that as soon as the handicapped became not just accepted by the object of sentimentality and benefits that the ranks of the “handicapped” have swelled”

      I suspect a big reason for the “swelling” of the ranks of the handicapped has to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This was a law that had good intentions, but as with all laws imposed from on high, has been abused. While it is good to try to accommodate the handicapped, it is impossible to make everything “right” and extremely expensive to right certain problems which are not at all serious. And of course, such laws are meat and drink to such leftists as we have in the White House. Their object is to get as many people on the public purse as possible, even though it will likely hurt those who really need the aid, as the money will run out.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        If you haven’t seen it then you might like this one. It’s a good movie. Remember the chick-flick aspect. It is a romance. I don’t mind that if it’s well done. And this one is (so far) fairly well done.

        No doubt the American Disabilities Act opened the floodgates. But I do not lie when I say that even many of my conservative friends are too quick to package themselves up as victims if they can get something for doing so. This is just human nature. This is what happens when you have “free stuff” available. It will reduce the character of the general population.

        It’s a fine thing to accommodate the handicap. But there must be a male aspect to this. We must stand up and say, “Compassion cannot be defined by how many people you put on a government program.” Perhaps I’m being unfair to the women voters. But I don’t think so. I think our society is headed for bankruptcy for the very reason that “compassion” has been allowed to be defined as politicians taking from one set of people to hand out to another. Many can’t think beyond the superficial warm-fuzzes of this kind of “compassion.” There is little regard for the need for each and every human to make their own way, as best they can. There is little regard for the lives that are wrecked.

        Most people — including the handicapped — can work. And should work. The other expectation, that we are all just poor little sparrows with a broken wing, produces little but excuse-makers and moochers. Oh, it’s all packaged as “help” but it is simply a means to undermining the character and abilities of people and empower the Lords of and Ladies who run the racket. What were are calling “handicapped” or just “in need of government assistance” has ballooned to the point where there are few, if any, normal people left. We’re all victims. And being a victim entitles you to other people’s money. It entitles you to think of yourself as a victim.

        I’m tired of it. The only people who should receive assistance are the truly handicapped. And even then, we should be careful not to undermine their ability to do what they can with their lives. The expectations should always be that people do something, no matter how humble. There are obviously cases where this is impossible. But it’s the growing expectation that we are all poor little sparrows with broken wings who just need someone to take care of them that is breaking this country, financially and morally.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          “This is what happens when you have “free stuff” available. It will reduce the character of the general population.”

          Yes morals and character take a hit. How many times have you heard, “well he is doing it, so I might as well get mine too.”? This refrain is now writ large in this country. It used to be most people were above this. I recall almost fifty years ago that a friend’s father was the no. 1 pilot for an airline and the pilots went on strike for a few weeks, like a month or so. My friend’s father went down and applied for unemployment. I was shocked as he was very well paid and most people I knew would not go to the government for anything, if they could avoid it. Things are much worse now.

          “The only people who should receive assistance are the truly handicapped. And even then, we should be careful not to undermine their ability to do what they can with their lives.”

          From what I have seen, the handicapped want to work. They want to feel they have been useful. Around here, it is pretty common to see people with Down Syndrome working at grocery stores. I think this is great.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’ve now got about 30 minutes left in “Children of a Liberal God.” Oops. Sorry. I mean “Lesser God.”

    Remember I said that William Hurt was the “sensitive” man but not too much of a girly man? Well, forget I said that. There are a couple of scenes in this movie where he’s hilariously feminine. He and Marlee are right in the middle of doing the horizontal mamba and Hurt stops and says to the deaf girl, who refuses to learn to try to speak, “I need you to say my name.” And things blow up from there.

    Earlier in the movie they were lying in bed post-coitus and Williams kept pestering her to share her feelings. Once again, a very nice moment between the two is blown apart by William doing a sort of sex role swap and nagging her about sharing feelings. It was hilarious, the kind of thing you might miss unless you were watching the movie with yours truly.

    Otherwise the movie is okay. It’s sort of petered out in the last half, after the initial boy-meets-deaf-girl-with-an-attitude confrontation. It’s fallen into treacle when it had something edgier going for a while. But we’ll see how this concludes. I haven’t seen this is probably 20 years so I don’t remember. But it’s not going to make anyone forget “Radio.”

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