Don’t want Akshay Kumar to kick your ass? Then don’t use the ‘R word’! The actor, who is the face of Special Olympics — held for intellectually challenged people — is spearheading a campaign, Ban the R word, against the use of the insensitive word, ‘retard’.
And, Akki is not even sparing celebrities who use the word frivolously.
Speaking out against Hollywood actor Jennifer Aniston, who called herself a retard on television recently, Akshay says, “The recent incident involving Jennifer Aniston using the R word on live TV was, of course, blown out of proportion, but it just shows how unaware we are and how frivolously we use this word. One could never understand how much it hurts — it demeans people who strive harder in life than we could ever imagine.”
While Akshay plans to make this the new cool campaign for youngsters to support, it is already a hit internationally. And, the actor is not shy to use his star status to get celebrities to support him. “I cannot tell you how supportive our industry has been. Within minutes of asking, Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan, Salman (Khan), Katrina (Kaif), and Farah (Khan) — all pledged to show respect to those who have special needs,” he says.
“Barack Obama even talked about it on Jay Leno’s show. The campaign is picking up in a big way,” says Abhishek Bhardwaj of Special Olympics Bharat, to be launched in October in Bangalore. The aim is to get five million pledges by October 2010 and double of that by March 2011. “We are looking at this movement transforming into a law,” says Air Marshal Keelor, Chairman, Special Olympics Bharat.
Having the action hero as the champion of the cause also seems to influenced a fair share of youngsters. “I use it often, but in different contexts. I never really thought of it as something offensive, but I pledge not to use it again,” says Monila Thakur, a student. “It’s just a part of our lingo. But, I now realise that it is insensitive, so I’ll avoid using it and discourage others, too,” says Aditya Sharma, a student.