'Wolf of Wall Street' Slammed by Disability Advocates

Martin Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street is under fire once again -- this time, for comparing drug-induced behavior to having cerebral palsy.

"The Wolf of Wall Street is getting a lot of attention for how it offends audiences on many levels, but one aspect that hasn't been discussed is its use of the R-word and its unacceptable mockery of people with cerebral palsy. Hollywood just doesn't seem to get it," said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, a group that serves people with disabilities, in a joint statement on Monday with Stephen Bennett, president and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy.

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"Among moviegoers who have paid to see The Wolf of Wall Street in recent weeks are people with disabilities, their parents, siblings and friends," Berns continued. "It's time for Hollywood to wake up and see that their customers deserve better."

While also collecting critical acclaim -- including Leonardo DiCaprio's Golden Globe win for lead actor in a musical or comedy on Sunday -- Wolf has triggered a negative response for its excessive foul language and depictions of sex and drug use, for which it narrowly avoided an NC-17 rating. The daughter of an associate of the actual Jordan Belfort penned an open letter that condemned the film.

"While we understand that the film's content is deliberately distasteful and excessive, it does not excuse it," added Bennett. "It is astonishing that the film's producers, director and actors deemed this kind of language and portrayal to be acceptable -- they can do better, and we urge them to."

DiCaprio considers the film a "cautionary tale" rather than a piece of praise, he recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "It is an indictment of this world," he explained. "We don't like these people, you know what I mean? But we very consciously said, 'Let's insulate the audience in the mindset of what these people's lives were like so we better understand something about the very culture that we live in.' We very purposely didn't do the traditional approach of cutting away to the people affected by this."

Scorsese also defended his controversial work to THR. "In many cases -- not all -- the pursuit of reinventing yourself in America is just something that a 'confidence man' [like Wolf's Belfort] embraces. A confidence man takes your trust, takes your confidence and betrays you. And this is on all levels, whether it's low-level street crime, a white-collar crime and even a crime in religious organizations. This is something that's not going to go away if you don't talk about it. Your children are not going to stay clear of it. And God forbid that your kids do! Look, it's out there. It's about human nature. Certain social structures facilitate it and some don't. Now looking at this unrestrained let me make this picture, you know?"

Twitter: @cashleelee

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