21 Jump Street movie thinks making fun of autism is comedy

I’ve talked about my son Cody on more than one occasion. More specifically, I’ve talked about his autism and how challenging it can be, but also how much of an amazing gift he is to our family and everyone he comes in contact with. Last week I wrote a post about something I feel strongly about, Spread the word to end the word – the R word. I’d love a world where that word didn’t exist and I’d love a world where those who are different weren’t made fun of or called names. I also don’t think it’s too much to expect that those in Hollywood who make films and the actors who star in them to not sell that kind of behavior as humor. I must be over sensitive.

I hadn’t seen Jonah Hill in a film before I watched the movie Moneyball. I like baseball, but I’m not a huge fan. I found Jonah Hill’s acting in that movie to be impressive. I thought he would probably do really well in a comedy, so when I saw that he was in the upcoming film, 21 Jump Street, I was eager to see the preview and eventually the movie. I never watched the television show, but Paul assured me that probably wouldn’t matter and I agreed since it was so long ago and I’m sure I’m not alone. We were about to watch another movie when the trailer played for 21 Jump Street. Initially I thought it looked funny and not just Jonah Hill, but the rest of the cast as well. At one point I thought my ears were playing tricks on me because I heard a joke that made my jaw drop and my mama bear instincts begin to rise. There’s a scene where one of the characters questions another’s intelligence by asking him if he’s autistic. He’s not a medical professional giving a diagnosis. It’s clearly meant as an insult and not at all a joke as I’m sure they intended. Actually, I’m not sure what they intended. I’m not sure what they were thinking when they thought it would be funny to use autistic in such a derogatory way. I can assure you that autism has nothing to do with intelligence as some kids with autism are highly intelligent, they just learn very differently than the rest of us. I’m utterly disappointed and disgusted that this has happened in Hollywood. In 2012. The only thing that I am grateful for is the fact that this scene was in the trailer so that I don’t waste any of my money on the film.

Here’s the trailer: the scene is at about the 3:30 mark and I have to warn you that this particular trailer is NSFW, so be careful where you view it and who is nearby.



  1. Well… I think they are actually trying to reference the savant-like tendencies that come with autism. I don’t think it was used as a stand-in for the R-word. I don’t think the movie looked all that funny anyway, and I think “angry black guy” thing was way over the top, so that particular line was more unfunny than others as a result. But I don’t think it’s quite as bad as you are making it seem.
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    • Cade DeBois (@lifepostepic) says

      ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!! NOT helping, Gina.

      Savant tendencies only occurs in 1 out of 10 people with autism and 50% of people with savantism are non-autistics. It is NOT a trait of autism, but a separate condition. It is a STEREOTYPE of autism that autistics are also savants. I know. I am dx’d with Asperger’s, Many people with autism who do not have any degree of savantism feel demeaned and misunderstood when they are assumed to be savants. Autism and savantism = NOT the same thing. Assuming they are the same thing is insulting as well as being uninformed

      So if this joke is what you think it is, it’s an untrue stereotype and an insult. Someone pursuing a Masters in Childhood Development really should know better!

      • Thank you for the excellent explanation. There is an absolute difference between autism and someone who is a savant. I appreciate your comment!

    • I know autism, I understand humor and I recognize ignorance. The “joke” in question is unmistakably ignorant and insensitive.

    • I appreciate your comment, but I strongly disagree. If that was the intention he could have used the word “savant” rather than “autistic”, but I’m not even sure that would be any more funny to me. I really don’t think it was necessary or needed.

  2. Just disgusting & disrespectful! Let everyone involved in the movie come spend a week with me!

  3. Maybe this won’t seem as comparable to others as it is to me, but I think that the tolerance level for someone to state,”You’re eating so much chicken. What are you, black?” when one is clearly not of African-American ethnicity is a considerable amount higher than the statement made in 21 Jump Street. I’m not saying I agree with the writers decided to put in the script for that particular scene, but I understand their reasoning as to why this would be acceptable.

  4. Sorry, I meant “I am not saying I agree with the writers’ decision to put this ‘joke’ in the script, but ___

  5. Emilia Anabelle Archilla says

    I have a autistic son and I agree with you 100% it is an insulted to our kids. The world the we living people have no compassion, saddly. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Thank you so much for the comment. It’s unfortuante that making fun of those less abled is somehow “okay” with some people. Good thoughts to you and your family as well.

  6. janis Cuthbert says

    Took my eldest son to see 21 jump street – couldn’t believe my ears when i heard the “joke” about autism- still could’t believe them when i heard the 2 references about rainman. 1st time was meant as an insult, 2nd time was to apologise for calling him rainman as he wasn’t stupid ???????? Shame on them. Sat listening to people laugh at this garbage – 7 year old son is autistic – shame on them for making these cheap shots

  7. Jennifer says

    I HAVE 2 AUTISTIC CHILDREN. It is very hard for me as a mother. I decided to watch 21 jump street to pass time. I also thought my ears were playing tricks on me. I WAS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED!!!!

    • It’s truly sad that someone in Hollywood thought this would be funny and okay to put in a film. I’m sorry you had to sit through it, but I appreciate your comment and wish you well with the challenge of two kiddos on the spectrum.

  8. I saw 21 Jump street with a friend lastnight. At first I thought I thought maybe I did not hear correctly because the other copy say something about artist so I continued to watch it. I must I was thinking about it the whole movie. Then when may friend left I played it again and sure enough that is indeed what they said. Noe I’m am wishing I played it back the first time. I would never have continued watching it!!! I am very disappointed and feel guilty for watching that stupid movie. It may not have been said to hurt anyone but, it sure did make my stomach turn and wanted to cry!!! I have a 4 year old son with autism and he is my world and so very smart. I took huge offense to the movie and will be sure to let people who have not yet seen, not to see. i let them know it was stupid and most importantly offensive to those with any kind of special needs.

  9. Are you high? You are obviously on some kind of drug. It’s called a joke. I’m against people that pick on other kids with mental problems but it’s people like you that make it a big deal that create these problems. You make it seem like your child is different and inferior to man kind. Even if your child has autism doesn’t make him or her different and not able to accomplish the tasks of a a “normal” person. Your child is going to hear jokes like this and they have 2 options, feel upset for themselves for what they think is being different, or stand up for themselves accept they are not much different that you and I and make better lives for themselves. The world is a cruel place even for non autistic people like you and I. Stop being sensitive and just deal with it!

  10. GreatKawaii says

    People obviously do not understand a joke. Nothing can be funny without making fun of something. Are you telling me the shit laffy taffy jokes are what should be in movies? For fucks sake you had a choice to watch it. Nobody says you must and don’t be swaying other people to not watch it just because of your opinions.

  11. I’m autistic and I showed this to my other autistic friends and we thought it was hilarious. By the way all you moms out there that think their autistic children would take offends to this. They probley wouldn’t. Now stop putting words in our mouths and shut up and say that you don’t think its funny. By the way I use regard all the time and non my friends think its wrong. Its all you neurotypical people who have the problem.

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