Hey there, boys and girls! I've been hearing a lot of bellyaching around the campgrounds lately about how hard it is to get ahead in the world today. Talk of how you need to have a good college education, good looks, charm and charisma if people are ever going to stop and take notice of you. I have a simple solution that won't cost you valuable time, costly tuition fees or even any spiritual reflection.
Hey Algernon, you wanna help me get famous?
That's right! If you really want people to stop and take notice of you, just act retarded!
Want proof? Well, that's easy enough to provide. Over the years, if I've learned anything, it's been lessons that were taught to me through the magic of the cinema. I've learned how to fly jet fighter planes by watching Tom Cruise in a modified motorcycle helmet, how to dance by simply carrying a watermelon and waiting for the hottest guy in town to walk up and teach me. I've even learned that the fastest way to get home is to click my heels together and simply wish for it to be so!
Well, the movies have taught me that if there's anything that the world loves more than a blockbuster and a tub of butter-soaked popcorn, it's a retard!!
Sure, they have all kinds of fancy names for them now, "developmentally disabled," "mentally challenged," "handicapable," and the like, but let's face it. At the end of the day, the easiest way to label those who don't operate on a full tank is to go for that whispered word that people aren't supposed to be saying anymore. No, not the "N" word, silly! RETARDED!
Here's some of the things that I've learned about acting retarded and the benefits that it will flow in a steady and lucrative stream to your front door.
10) Start Early
The early bird catches the Oscar gold, as Cliff Robertson would tell you. He won a Best Actor Oscar back in 1968, long before Hollywood was comfortable with putting the mentally feeble up on the silver screen. And as we all know, Hollywood is far more progressive than the rest of the world, so Cliff was right on his game when he abandoned playing the heartthrob roles like The Big Kahuna from 1959's GIDGET. Cliff was so far ahead of his time that very few knew to follow in his footsteps until years later.
9) When In Doubt
If you can't get people to pay attention to you for acting retarded, you can always go the second cousin route and try acting stupid. Everyone just loves a dummy. From air-headed Jean Harlow to the ditzy Marilyn Monroe, all the way to timeless shit-for-brains Goldie Hawn, women weren't excluded from this club. However, it's been proven to still be far more advantageous for the men to jump on the idiot train. Simple tramp-like characters created early on by the likes of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, carrying over to empty-headed lunks like Michael J. Pollard in BONNIE & CLYDE (another Oscar nominated performance!) on into the Frat Pack of recent years, with Adam Sandler, Jim Carey and Will Ferrell, it's been proven over and over that the less intelligent you can appear to be, the fatter your wallet will be for it.
8) If At First You Don't Succeed...
OK, so you tried getting in early and being retarded, but the world at large just wasn't ready for it yet. Then you tried acting stupid and managed to get nothing more than some skinned knees and a kick on the ass from one of your friends who was embarrassed to be seen in public with you. There's always route three: Go
Tee Hee! I'm ALMOST retarded!
If you can add a limp and pound on passing cars like Dustin Hoffman did in MIDNIGHT COWBOY, people will be quoting you for years. Dye your hair a nasty bottle blonde, pretend you're going to stick a hypodermic needle in your neck, marry a redneck and kiss your brother and you might just be able to pull off an Angelina. And if creating memorable crazy characters on your own is a little out of your reach, you can always use a famous person's life story, like Ed Harris in the movie POLLOCK or Russell Crowe in A BEAUTIFUL MIND. They both scored Oscar nominations, bigger paychecks and hot wives. Now who could ask for more?
7) When the World is Ready For You...
The time has come where the world has finally embraced what you and Hollywood knew all along. Acting retarded is the way to showcase just how stunningly brilliant you really are. A full twenty years after Cliff took on the cinematic adaptation of the sweet and forewarning story of Flowers for Algernon, audiences were once again ready to bring a retard into their hearts. Dustin Hoffman was the man to do it, having honed his chops with going the crazy route years before, this time bringing us the instantly quotable and infinitely more approachable autistic man Charlie Babbitt in RAIN MAN. Dustin figured out something very simple that most actors tended to overlook. It was important that he looked just out of it enough for people to realize that he wasn't normal but that he also managed to do something superhumanly cool, like count toothpicks that had fallen out of their box. Bravo, Dustin!
6) Sometimes Looking the Part is More Important
What the majority of the world is unaware of is that retarded people don't always come in physically deformed packages. It's that little slip-up that Daniel Day Lewis learned to use to his advantage, and if you watch MY LEFT FOOT, you can figure it out too! Simply get yourself adopted by a poor Irish family with more kids than their collectively remaining teeth, and flop about on the floor as if you have no muscle control whatsoever other than in one leg of your body. Yet you can't forget to use Dustin's tried and true method of having a superhumanly cool trick and use that foot to scrawl "Mother" across the floor all while bringing tears to the world's eyes and Oscar gold into your mangled hands.
5) Say it With Me.... "Penis!"
Sadly, there are very little roles out there for women allowing them to exploit the retarded angle on the route to fame and fortune. Acting retarded as a women will simply garner you strange looks from men and crappy roles like poor Elizabeth Shue got saddled with in MOLLY. Men have managed to corner the retarded market as the world prefers to see its actresses looking lovely and pained by the demands that their afflicted husbands put on them. Sorry ladies, if you were looking for notoriety, you're going to have to start out by being pretty and then get yourself really ugly for the camera in order to get people to notice that you can act. Don't believe me? Just ask Susan Sarandon about her win for the dowdy nun in DEAD MAN WALKING (1995), Frances McDormand for her turn as the pregnant police chief in FARGO (1996), Hilary Swank as the gender identity victim in BOYS DON'T CRY (1999), Halle Berry for her hideous looking widow and mother in MONSTER'S BALL (2001), Nicole Kidman and her prosthetic nose in THE HOURS (2002), Charlize Theron for
her serial killer in MONSTER (2003) or even Hilary again for her mannish boxer in MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004).
"Mama always used to say I'd win an Oscar if I talked this way."
These days we like our men stupid and our women (temporarily) ugly. Learn it, live it.
There's no better companion to a retarded person than a cute or precocious little kid. Just ask Sean Penn. By the time that I AM SAM was released in 2001, the public's affection for retards was beginning to dwindle. No one would have noticed his carefully crafted simpleton performance if it wasn't for the adorable little Dakota Fanning at his side. Long before she'd driven everyone crazy with her wide blue eyed stare or incessant whining, she was considered to be brilliant at enduring a life lived under the guidance of a retarded father.
The kid doesn't even have to be your own or even all that cute. As Billy Bob Thorton found out in SLING BLADE, the kid just needs to provide the catalyst for the redeeming action the retard needs to accomplish. In this case, the kid was simply there to take the beatings issued to him by a drunken Dwight Yoakam (who should have known better with a name like that) so that good ol' tater-lovin', "NnnnHnnn" mumbling Sling Blade could come in and save the day with his brutal retarded violence.
3) Heartthrobs NEED Apply!
Think just because you're a good looking young man that you have no chance of getting the retarded shtick to work for you? Think again! There are a variety of angles that you can play up to as a heartthrob, from transfixing the audience with a crazy turn like Brad Pitt pulled off in 12 MONKEYS (Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1995) to playing a nondescript retard like Leo DiCaprio, bubbling at the mouth and sporting some pity inducing caked on boogers in WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? (Another Best Supporting Actor nomination! Who would have guessed!?!) to playing on the down-low and just concentrating on a good performance as a high functioning autistic like Josh Hartnett in MOZART & THE WHALE.
So bat those pretty eyes and gurgle some unintelligible words, fellas! You never know... Martin Scorsese might just come knocking on your door!
2) The Last Ditch Attempt
So you don't think that you can lower yourself enough to be stupid. You know you're not creative enough to pull off crazy. And pretending to be retarded is just a little out of your reach. All hope is not lost. Go for the long forgotten and underrated approach. Lose your senses!
No, I'm not referring to playing crazy again. I'm talking about literally losing your senses. It worked for Al Pacino in SCENT OF A WOMAN when he donned a pair of dark sunglasses and shouted to compensate for his lack of a working set of peepers. John Malkovich pulled it off as well in PLACES IN THE HEART. Alan Arkin might have managed to win a statue for overdosing on heroin, but he first wowed his critics in THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER for playing a deaf mute.
And ladies, you can get in on this one too, but only if you happen to actually BE blind or deaf, like Marlee Matlin in CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD.
And finally, we come to the number one way that being retarded will get you noticed, loved, adored, quoted, remembered and thought of more fondly than if you were legitimately retarded.
1) Get yourself a great soundtrack.
FORREST GUMP. Enough said.
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