Robert DeNiro defends, then pulls Tribeca screening of anti-Vaxx documentary

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Here’s a photo of Robert DeNiro and his wife Grace Hightower back in January. Did you know they’ve been together since the mid 1990s? It’s true. They have two children together, 18-year-old Elliott and 4-year-old Helen Grace. Apparently, Elliott is autistic. I had no idea, and apparently DeNiro revealed that for the first time last week. It would have been stand-alone news, but DeNiro offered that piece of information during one of the biggest controversies ever in the history of DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Festival.

DeNiro is one of the co-founders of the Tribeca Film Festival, which began in 2002 as a way to bring business and attention to lower Manhattan following the September 11 attacks. The Tribeca Film Festival is well-respected (mostly because of DeNiro’s association), but Tribeca really hasn’t hit its stride as a go-to film festival known for pushing new or exciting filmmakers or screening experimental or controversial films. But last week, Tribeca previewed their schedule for this year’s festival, and many were dismayed to see the inclusion of Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, a documentary co-written and directed by anti-Vaxxer Andrew Wakefield, a documentary which acts as an apologia for the anti-vaccine crowd. Do you see where I’m going with this? The documentary – like many in the Anti-Vaxx crowd – believe there’s a correlation between vaccines and autism. And at first, DeNiro defended the documentary by discussing his son, saying:

“Grace and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming.”

“However, this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening Vaxxed. I am not personally endorsing the film, nor am I anti-vaccination; I am only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the issue.”

[From People]

Except that just hours after he made that statement, all kinds of hell broke loose and DeNiro ended up pulling the screening completely. DeNiro made another statement, saying:

“My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”

[From The NY Times]

I’ve said this before about the Anti-Vaxxers, and I’ll say it again: I think if they were just making the point that the vaccine schedule is too rushed, and that vaccines need to be spread out over the course of, say, several years, that would be one thing. I think that would be an interesting conversation to have, actually. But the Anti-Vaxxers go too far and they use really questionable science – like the “science” used by Andrew Wakefield, which has been overwhelmingly debunked – to justify why their kids should not have to have ANY vaccines.

I actually feel sorry a little bit for DeNiro, because I think his intentions might have been completely above-board – he probably didn’t agree with Wakefield, but he wanted the documentary to lead to further discussion and debate (and some free publicity for Tribeca), and it all got out of hand.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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147 Responses to “Robert DeNiro defends, then pulls Tribeca screening of anti-Vaxx documentary”

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  1. Esther says:

    i understand him, if you get involved once in the movie selection you’ll have to answer for every other movie that will ever be shown. thats not a great situation to be in.

    • robynsing says:

      Anti vaxxers have always existed in the last 23 years that I have had children vaccinated. People here are pointing out that they got rid of certain additives that could have dangerous side affects 10 years ago. WHEN MY KIDS WERE BEING VACCINATED BEFORE THAT. My husband’s father was a doctor and 23 years ago told us not to worry because they took out the poisons and “now they are synthetic”. My husband and I chose to vaccinate our children at school age. I was not comfortable having my tiny babies system be inundated by vaccines under 30 lbs. When they were vaccinated, we did it in stages. We could monitor any issues or side affects this way. We continued to vaccinate over the school years without a cookie cutter mapping of injections, but with a well thought out plan of how we would have these vaccines administered in order to be prudent and at the same time responsible.

      • robynsing says:

        P.S. our children have never had any illnesses…ever. I worry about chicken pox. would it not be better to suffer from chicken pox as a child than to get it as an adult or opt for yet another vaccine for a common childhood disease.

      • Sarah says:

        The thing is Robyn, vaccinating isn’t just about YOUR kids but the entire community. It doesn’t matter that your kids didnt get sick – many do. Many die.

      • DiverD says:

        Robynsing- Oh wow, you are SO thoughtful and intelligent….haha. You are an idiot.

  2. Izzy says:

    I lost a great deal of respect for De Niro and the film festival when they announced they would screen that “documentary,” and no, he doesn’t earn any of it back just because he finally had someone explain science to him.

    Wakefield should be in prison for what he did. He performed unnecessary invasive procedures such as colonoscopies, on kids. He falsified thier records and the data to prove a theory he wanted to be true. He cherry-picked results and used only a dozen subjects, and had the gall to call it a legit study. And worst, he goes on and on about being a victim of “big pharma’s greed,” while he failed to disclose his own financial motives. He had been developing his OWN MMR vaccine and some testing kit for a new gastric syndrome he claimed existed after he did his BS study. The financial information had to be brought to light through a Freedom of Information request. He certainly never disclosed it, as he ethically should have when publishing his paper.

    • MattyLove says:

      You gave a perfect summary of “Mr” Wakefield!

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Wow, Izzy, agree with you – what a fraud.

    • Nur says:

      Unfortunately that small movement had huge consequences and reached the developing countries as well. We have anti vaxxer here too now and the debate is hot.
      I personally am vaccinating my child but I am uncomfortable. I dont believe there to be any link between autism and vaccines but I do believe they contain plenty of questionable preservatives etc. especially the vaccines in the dumping areas like the developing countries. So as a very health conscious person, I’m on the fence about it but I do it because honestly I find death from preventable diseases much more horrifying.

      • Izzy says:

        They eliminated thimerasol from vaccines more than ten years ago. If you have questions, start by asking your doctor- they should be able to tell you about any preservative, if any, or other ingredients that may concern you. You have every right to ask. And thank you for not listening to Jenny McCarthy and her ilk. People who do that make me want to pound my head in frustration. I’m an adult with a slight immune dysregulation, and that small vulnerability meant I had to start getting whooping cough vaccination again last year, because in the words of my physician, “it’s making a comeback.” When I travel on planes I wear a breathing mask, because any idiot with kids unvaccinated by choice can get on an airplane. No thought to the consequences to others.

      • Jaded says:

        @Izzy – I’m 63 and 5 years ago guess what I developed? Pertussis (adult whooping cough) and I got it from a woman at work who refused to vaccinate her kids, they caught it and she brought it in to the office. I was furious. I had to get the vaccine plus a few others again because one’s immunity to a whole variety of diseases wears off after a certain age and the nut-case anti-vaxxers are the very people that caused me to get sick.

        They are selfish and misinformed, and their kids should not be allowed to travel or attend school unless they have proof of vaccinations.

      • Locke Lamora says:

        Not vaccinating your kids is illegal in my country. Brilliant move from the government, solved a lot of unecessery problems.

      • Scal says:

        It’s interesting to note that in many countries where vaccinations are mandatory, there hasn’t been a increased rate of autism. One would think that if the two were related, we would see more cases globally-but it seems to be localized in certain areas.
        Also the ingredient in question with Wakefield and his group-thimerasol-was eliminated from childhood vaccines a decade ago. And the rate has stayed the same even as new infants are being immunized with these updated vaccines.

        The new bad ingredient du jour with the anti-vax movement is the aluminum. Never mind that aluminum is in every fruit/veg you eat naturally-for example 1 bag of spinach leaves has more aluminum that the entire childhood vaccine regime.

      • SKF says:

        Jaded – this is actually a common error many people make. You are it just supposed to get vaccinated as a child and that’s it. You are actually supposed to get boosters continually throughout your life. So whooping cough is every ten years I believe. It is often adults without their booster shots who pass on these illnesses, not just unvaccinated children. As a responsible person in the community, every adult should ensure they are always up to date with their booster shots. I think there need to be more public awareness campaigns explaining this as many people don’t seem to know this.

      • Mona says:

        We are in Canada and over Christmas both my husband and I developed whopping cough. We were stunned to learn that this stemmed from others not vaccinating their kids. We were vaccinated but didn’t know that because of this ‘new trend’ we should be getting a booster to prevent getting sick. Our daughter has been vaccinated and didn’t get sick. My husband and I suffered for three months. The doctor at the emergency told us that it’s called a 100 day cough and there is nothing that can be done for it at all. In fact my husband got so bad he passed out from coughing and had a major car accident. He is fine but it could have turned out so much worse. Not vaccinating kids is and will be a major problem for all of us.

      • KA says:

        I did a LOT of research before vaccinating my eldest because we have several autistic people in the family. There is no link. My eldest is also autistic, though very high functioning so we didn’t realise until preschool… and I still ensure that my youngest, who’s still a toddler, is up to date with her shots. Because: no link. The science is really clear.

        The Danish cohort study followed over a million children, over many years. They established that you are MORE likely to have an autistic child if you do NOT vaccinate. The correlation was clear. However, the researchers stated that this was because the period covered included the Wakefield rubbish, and so any parent with one autistic child would be very unlikely to vaccinate any subsequent children, and because of the genetics, they were at far greater risk than average of a second or third or further child having autism. Which speaks volumes about their integrity in comparison to the anti-vaxxers, quite frankly, as they did not claim any protective effect.

    • Brunswickstoval says:

      +100000000000000

    • Scal says:

      Exactly and you know who paid for the ‘study’? Lawyers. Lawyers who were suing vaccine companies. So between that and his own vaccine he was developing -his motivation to do it wrong becomes really clear.

      You know what other procedure he did that he didn’t need to? Spinal taps. Spinal taps on infants.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Really? So horrible. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have either experienced or witnessed a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) in adults. Extremely painful and cannot be done with anesthesia. They puncture a hole into your spinal cord through 2 closely spaced discs in the lower spine to draw out spinal fluid. Now imagine an infant going through this… And this procedure is not without risks and after-effects.

      • TyrantDestroyed says:

        I had this procedure when I was 25 and it was painful as hell and up to date my lower back hurts sometimes. I cannot condone this idiot for performing those unnecessary invasive studies in kids and babies for that obtuse research

      • Magnoliarose says:

        I had one and I do still ache sometimes in my lower back and my first baby had one and It’s horrible to see.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Thanks for putting the facts out there. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, so they say!

      • AG-UK says:

        I had something similar when I was 14 I had never experienced that much pain and I had some numbing injection can’t imagine a baby.

    • Alex says:

      Agreed. Dude lost his medical license what more do you need?
      Its not a conversation to be had…there IS NO FACT SUPPORTING THE ANTI-VAX POSITION!! Ugh and the fact that he threw out the fact about his son being autistic while trying to support the documentary made it even worse for me.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Thanks for saying this. There is no “controversy.” That’s just a word used by ignorant reporters and anyone trying to stir up an anti-science “debate.” There is no “debate.” There is also no controversy about evolution as the means of developing variation in biological life. There is also no controversy about the fact that the climate is changing in a way harmful to life on Earth, nor is there controversy about the role played by carbon emissions caused by human activity.

        ZERO controversy, nothing to discuss, only inadequate education, special-interest propaganda and the role played by some religious sects.

      • bunny ears says:

        THIS times a million!

        I actually read the ‘article’ published, and I’m shocked by how riddled in falsities in it. I don’t know how ANYONE with common sense can believe in the anti-vax movement (cough jenny mccarthy cough). Autism cannot be caused by vaccines when it’s a genetic issue that comes from cells produced in reproduction/gonads. Whatever happens with vaccines doesn’t affect those cells.

        UGH. I’m going to go eat something before I get even angrier.

      • Robin says:

        Well, you’re right about vaccines and evolution.

    • Crumpet says:

      Thank you for the great summary of events Izzy! You post + 10,000!

    • Belle Epoch says:

      “Documentary” is right. It is admittedly fictionalized and the goal seems to be to portray him as a heroic figure being victimized. Now he is whining about “free speech”, as if because of “free speech” every film ever made has to be featured. He directed this film HIMSELF, so it is 100% the product of his sick mind – not a documentary at all.

      This guy belongs in prison. He singlehandedly caused incalculable damage to public health. Personally I think he is some kind of sociopath. His real job is being a cult leader.

    • JenniferJustice says:

      Wakefield – Definitely a man with an agenda who can’t be trusted.

      DeNiro and the like – delusional and in denial. While it’s true that on paper some statistics do show a pattern re vaccines and autism, as in almost every child in America who has autism had the vaccine, but then what child didn’t at the point? What they fail to mention is the much stronger and more evidenced correlation between older men father children with Autism. Children conceived by men over the age of 55 have an increased risk of Autism (66%). On that same note, children conceived by men over 55 also have a much higher rate of Schizophrenia.

      I love and respect DeNiro but I have to wonder if he’s grasping at straws to cast the blame somewhere else – anywhere other than himself. Not that I’m blaming him – who knows why his son was born with Autism? But I can see him wanting to see parallels where there aren’t any.

  3. Margo S. says:

    Robert di Niro first came forward about his sons autism during press for silver linings playbook. It’s been known for years.

  4. Esmom says:

    He didn’t vet it with the scientific community until after people started (justifiably) protesting? That’s astonishingly uninformed, especially from the parent of an autistic child.

  5. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I admire him for doing his homework, admitting he was wrong and pulling the movie. I believe he had good intentions.

    • JustJen says:

      Same here. What I’m getting from this is, the synopsis of the film made him think it would open dialogue, then when people lost it, he actually watched the “documentary” and yanked it.

    • Magnoliarose says:

      I do too. I prefer a person make a mistake and fix it than someone who rolls with it for ego sake.

  6. Froggy says:

    I don’t think he should have pulled it. Sets a precedent. So now every time there’s a film with risky subject matter and certain people complain, no one can see it? Watch it and debate like adults. The ‘no one should be able to see it’ is crazy to me.

    • Dame Snarkweek says:

      This was my exact reaction. I think allowing the documentary to show would have created a platform for exploring the fallacies anti-vaccers keep putting out there.

      • Izzy says:

        By giving a megaphone to a proven liar and fraud? No thanks. Wakefield lacks integrity.

      • Goats on the Roof says:

        Calling anything based on the works of a lying bastard like Wakefield a documentary is what irks me. The man is a fraud, proven multiple times over. Screen it under fiction, if anything.

      • Josefina says:

        @Goats on the Roof
        Documentaries aren’t necessarily objective. People have this weird notion they are supposed to be and journos take advantage of it. Many documentaries leave important information out to better push the political message underneath (Making a Murderer for example). Audiences should be able to think critically and question what’s being shown, looking for answers. But people don’t like thinking, sadly.

        @Izzy
        Yes. Give him the megaphone. It’s good he speaks so people can talk back.

        When do people most pay attention to discussions about sexism? When dumb people say sexist things. The screening of this documentary would’ve brought a lot of healthy debate and information.

        MIND YOU, I hate the anti-vaxx crowd just as much as you. But censorship is something that should be handled with inmense care. Censorship is the most powerful weapon of dictators and one of the biggest enemies of democracy. You can’t go around censoring stuff just because you disagree.

      • Kitten says:

        @ Josefina-I just saw your comment but said something very similar below.

      • Goats on the Roof says:

        @Josefina

        I see what you’re saying, but I’ll respectfully disagree. With Making a Murderer, there was an agenda, absolutely. The creators framed things to support their viewpoint. They left certain things out that may have supported the prosecution’s version of events or for time. But what they DIDN’T do (someone correct me if I’m wrong here) is fabricate a shit ton of evidence and peddle it as scientific fact, which is exactly what Wakefield did. Please see comments above for a brief recapping of SOME of his fraudulent behavior. Showing this film under the banner of documentary would be disrespectful to actual documentaries and also highly irresponsible in my view.

      • Kitten says:

        @Goats on the Roof-You saw the film?

      • Bros says:

        I fully agree. Art is art. This medium should not be censored. if people want to debate the points of the movie, fine, that’s what these things are meant to do: ignite conversation, and that conversation can be the tearing down of the so called ‘facts’ of the documentary. There are plenty of documentaries that present information in a biased and false way, and there aren’t teams of scientists or area experts that come together to demand it be banned.

        this isn’t china or iran. Movies shouldn’t be pulled because of their truth value.

      • Magnoliarose says:

        Josefina I agree about censorship. Where does it end.

    • Mia4s says:

      Don’t agree at all. Including this as a “documentary” is a gross insult to documentarians who work to put actual facts in their films. Should they also have included an Alien Autopsy documentary? They’re on roughly the same level of facts.

      Plus people can see it if they want, there are lots of fringe groups who will show it. TriBeCa is a private group and simply chose to remain credible.

      • Kitten says:

        Ok but SO many documentary filmmakers take liberties with the genre in that most pick and choose facts to suit the narrative that they’re putting out there. This film is hardly the first and won’t be the last either.

        My problem with banning something because it’s controversial is that we don’t know what kind of effect this film could have, you know? It’s almost like we’re assuming that people aren’t smart enough to make up their own minds about the subject and the insinuation seems to be that people will be manipulated into believing this hack and his junk science.

        The truth is that a doc like this might be the final nail in the coffin for the Ant-Vaxx Movement. If Wakefield is as bad as people are saying, then this film might unintentionally expose that, or at the very least generate a conversation about how nutty this guy is. Hell, just the fact that the film exists has already sparked me to google Wakefield and his transgressions.

        Is that not a good thing on some level?

        Anyway, the fact remains that this is a private film festival and De Niro has a right to decide what is shown. The thing is, if this movie isn’t shown here it will be shown somewhere else so…eh.

      • Dame Snarkweek says:

        @Kitten
        Correct as usual!

      • Esmom says:

        Kitten, I hear what you’re saying, and I would hope this film might expose the craziness of the anti-vaxxers for what it is, crazy. But I am someone who thought exposing Trump for the bigot he is would knock some sense into people, not fuel the flames of support for him.

        In any case, I think calling this move censorship is a bit much. It’s DeNiro’s festival, he’s free to choose and reject whatever films he wants. And this film’s makers are free to show it elsewhere.

      • Kitten says:

        At the risk of repeating myself 8 million times (sorry everyone!), the reason why I think it’s censorship is because it doesn’t sound like De Niro made this decision on his own. It sounds like the media got word of this movie being shown at Tribeca, people became outraged, and De Niro caved to public pressure. That feels like censorship to me.

        If De Niro had viewed the film before it was submitted to the festival and independently decided that it shouldn’t be shown at Tribeca, I would view it as a private decision, not censorship.

      • JaneS says:

        He can still show it. He chooses not to. It’s not censorship if there’s a choice.

    • Josefina says:

      Absolutely. The film can be a load of bs, but that doesn’t mean it should be censored. People can criticize it afterwards all they want.

      Idiots have a right to speak, like it of not. If their opinion is to be taken seriously, thats another matter. If you disagree, then you and all dictators in history have something in common.

    • mary simon says:

      I agree the film should be shown. Free speech, free exchange of ideas, and open debate.

      • Mia4s says:

        What in the world does free speech have to do with a private festival? Do people still not understand what free speech actually means?

        Sigh…I give up.

    • Kitten says:

      It’ll surely be an unpopular opinion around here given the emotional response to the subject matter, but I actually agree with you.

    • Scal says:

      To me it’s the same as saying we should documentary about how the holocaust is fake, or how the world is flat to start a conversation. The fallacy that ‘every side needs to be heard’ is complete BS when the other side are conspiracies and looney tones.

      • Kitten says:

        …like the 9/11 Truther film “9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out”?
        Because that was shown on PBS, a highly-respected network, and was actually one of their most-watched documentaries.

      • Scal says:

        That’s a myth. It wasn’t shown on PBS nationally. It was shown as part of Colorado public television on one channel about conspiracy theories and wasn’t sanctioned by PBS as stations run independently. It wasn’t the most-watched documentary on that channel. It’s been shared a lot online as that myth has increased.

        http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/2012/09/the_disaster_that_keeps_on_giving_1.html

        And again all things are not created equal-I don’t think saying not every whack job that thinks the moon landing was faked or that aliens built the pyramids should have a platform on the level of just differences of opinions or viewpoints is censorship. No one is stopping those movies from getting made or distributed. No one is legally going after those folks (except in countries were holocaust denial is illegal) Make your alien autopsy movie or holocaust denial film-but to insist it be treated as teaching the controversy is absurd. Those movies can get made as demanding that they DON’T get made is censorship, but should stay where they belong on the lunatic fringe of the internet and youtube. At some point there needs to be some common sense about what gets shown at a major festival or given equal time.

      • Kitten says:

        Thanks for the additional info–didn’t know that and I should have done my homework :)

        IMO refusing to show a film because of public pressure is only a teensy tiny step short of censorship.

        Just because I think the Anti-Vaxx movement is complete BS doesn’t mean that I think that people who agree with it don’t have the right to see their opinion represented in a mainstream forum. I feel like in this situation De Niro caved to the mass majority and I guess that’s why it bothers me–because ultimately it sounds like he was pressured into making this decision. So even though everyone here is saying that this isn’t censorship because the government isn’t banning these films from getting made, it is a form of censorship to pull a film because people largely disagree with the subject matter. Remember that the key word in censorship is *suppression*. Censorship is NOT defined as how it is applied by the government, in fact it can be applied by any group/institution/media outlet.

        Another issue with your stance is that the view of something as being “fringe” or “lunatic” is relatively subjective. I mean, a lot of people think Michael Moore is a socialist fringe-level lunatic (I kind of hate him BTW) but his movies are still shown at film festivals across the country.
        Or is the idea that we just cater to the widespread opinion? Again, that feels like a way to suppress i.e. censor those whom we don’t agree with.

        Ok I’ve already typed too much about this subject and I’m ok with people disagreeing with me. At least we all agree that the Anti-Vaxx movement is pure bullsh*t so there’s that ;)

      • Bros says:

        A documentary about how the holocaust was fake or the earth is flat shouldn’t be banned. (and aren’t in this country, thank god). It’s not about letting the other side be heard-it’s that every side gets to be heard.

        I like to know what is the best the crazies and the loonies have to offer in the way of arguments if I’m going to disagree with them. anybody who thinks the greater the degree of liberalism\progressivism\radicalism the always greater the truth value of what is being argued hasn’t got a very interesting political imagination.

    • doofus says:

      who says “no one should be able to see it”? the gov’t isn’t pulling it and banning it…

      …the person who runs a film festival has chosen not to show it at his private event. that is not censorship, that is selection.

      let the filmmaker/studio rent a theater and show it, if it’s so important that people see it.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Thank you! As comes up So Many Times on this board … freedom of speech means the freedom to speak without government interference. And even then there are limits; for example, no shouting fire in a crowded theater (the common example), no hate speech, no incitement to riot.

        A private film festival can select its films and if its board or whatever decides a particular film is problematic or irresponsible, it has every right to pull it.

        Wakefield and his “colleagues” are lying, greedy bastards who have through their deception and greed have killed children and adults. They have done nothing to prevent autism, either. They just keep trying sneaky new ways to make money and justify his original deceptiveness retroactively. That’s why they made this film, and I’m glad DeNiro and his board were responsible enough to listen to scientists and pull the film.

      • Josefina says:

        Oh, what Robert did was legal. No denying that. It’s the underlying idea of not showing opinions that go against that of the majority that bothers me.

        For me the problem is not that an idiot made a fraudulent documentary. It’s that people are stupid enough to watch it and believe everything. Because if that’s not the case, who cares if this ends up in national TV?

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        It’s not about showing opinions that go against those of the majority. The majority actually vaccinate their kids, but the minority that hasn’t is large enough to have created public health emergencies.

        It’s about not showing misleading, fraudulent, harmful information that goes against scientifically validated knowledge.

    • gyrlbye says:

      The problem is that is…there IS NO DEBATE. It’s been proven time and again by science. Science versus anicdotes doesn’t equal a de ate. It just gives a platform to this nonsense that is costing people their lives. As others have said, it’s like debating that 9/11 happened or opening a “conversation” about he the Holocaust. We would be (rightfully) appalled if they used the same logic to show “documentaries” on those topics. This is no different.

      And let me say this too, autistic persons are not defective aND most adults on the spectrum HATE these nut jobs for the lies they are spreading and the attention and dollars they are taking away from treatment and therapy.

    • Crumpet says:

      But giving anyone a ‘reason’ to not vaccinate their children is medically dangerous to them and everyone else. There is no ‘conversation’ to be had. Vaccines are safe – it has been proven time and again.

    • INeedANap says:

      There is no “debate”. One side is objectively incorrect. We need to stop pretending like not vaccinating your children is a reasonable stance.

    • Illyra says:

      I agree.

  7. Maya says:

    I love De Niro but this is a big no no.

    Not that he agreed to show this movie because he wanted a true conversation but that he didn’t see the movie beforehand to see if it was any good.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Yeah, that’s the one thing … screen it first! But if the respected British medical journal Lancet, which printed Wakefield’s initial trash study, let itself be fooled, so could a non-scientist like DeNiro. And at least he responded far more swiftly than Lancet, which took decades to retract the piece, by which time the damage was done.

  8. Mia4s says:

    I was disgusted when I heard they were putting it in as a documentary (if you want to put it in as pure fiction go ahead). These theories have been debunked repeatedly, when it comes to autism especially. It’s now the territory of failed money-hungry “experts” and bored and/or dumb housewives who believe everything on Facebook.

    Besides that as someone with a close family member with autism I find the anti-vaxxer “better off dead than with autism” underlying message to be offensive and inexcusable. You are thoroughly awful people.

    • BearcatLawyer says:

      ME TOO. I grew up with an autistic older brother, and in the bad old days people would legitimately ask if his condition was contagious. (Um, no, it was not but there was no vaccine for it either.) So it strikes me as highly ironic that some people now forgo vaccines for preventable, deadly diseases to avoid autism. They would rather risk their children’s lives – and the lives of others – by not vaccinating.

      Living with autism is not nearly as horrible as it was just a few decades ago, when institutionalization (an option offered to my parents) was the norm. We have made great strides in treatment and acceptance. So it saddens me that some people seem intent upon going backward when it comes to vaccines.

  9. missmerry says:

    whoever writes his statements deserves a bonus, I thought that 2nd one was well-said but not push-offy or rude or ‘sorry not sorry’ like some celeb statements turn out.

  10. Ann says:

    Wonder if he’d sponsor a documentary about how the advanced age of the father increases the likelihood of many defects in his offspring, including autism?

    • Esmom says:

      What are you suggesting? That it’s DeNiro’s fault his son is autistic?

      • KWM says:

        There have been multiple studies, legitimate studies, that prove paternal age is just as important as maternal age in the health of a child. Babies born to men over the age of 55 have a higher chance of being born with autism, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder along with a higher incident of miscarriage. For the longest time science only looked at maternal factors in child’s health, so while I do not think she is saying it is his fault, his age could be a factor in his sons autism.

        And it is about time science look at all the factors of a child, by limiting the study to only the mother they are missing 50% of the picture.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        The fact that we know this about older fathers suggests that science has *not* limited its research to only mothers.

        The emerging consensus seems to center around multiple potential contributing factors, many of them genetic. It’s a bigger picture with mental illness and could potentially help to explain the wide variation within psychiatric or developmental disorders.

    • Kitten says:

      I’m sure he wouldn’t as it would be seen as *controversial* and apparently, that’s not allowed at a film festival.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        It’s more like junk science and the exploitation and manipulation of families with autism aren’t being allowed at this particular film festival. This isn’t censorship. Wakefield can continue to peddle his disease-promulgating fiction on the open market but that doesn’t mean every film festival has to buy it.

        To put it more clearly in terms of Wakefield’s impact on global health: He has done nothing to prevent, treat or cure autism. He has promoted the rapid rise of measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, diptheria, and more. He is a complete and total danger to public health.

      • Kitten says:

        By definition, censorship is one group suppressing speech. That’s all it is. The “group” in this case is the mass majority, the public who disagrees with the Anti-Vaxx movement and have pressured De Niro to pull the film. They effectively stopped the Tribeca Film Festival attendees from viewing a film that presents a stance that they disagree with.

        When the science and medical community started drawing attention to the fact that cigarettes cause cancer, it was largely dismissed as “junk science”. Now I’m not arguing that the Anti-Vaxx movement ISN’T junk science (I believe that it is) I’m simply saying that to me, that’s not a reason to ban a film from a film festival.
        *shrugs*

    • Scal says:

      @Esmom, not that it’s his ‘fault’ per say as who can really blame genetics, but there have been actual peer reviewed studies that show there is a relationship between older parents and a increased risk of autism along with other conditions. Recently there’s been more and more discovered about the fact that older men’s sperm condition also plays a big role in development.

      Deniro was 54 at the time his son was born, his wife was 42. Statistically, that played some kind of a role. (also the fact that it was a boy as opposed to a girl, as the odds are also more likely there as well)

      • Esmom says:

        Yes I’m aware of those findings. Every pregnancy comes with its own unique set of risks and it’s up to the parents to decide if they want to roll the dice, so to speak.

        I guess I was offended by the tone of the poster who seemed to be suggesting that DeNiro was irresponsible for procreating at an advanced age. Along with the larger implication that autism makes a person irretrievably broken. My son is on the spectrum and while he faces many more obstacles than most of his peers, he is in no way broken.

  11. Miss M says:

    On one hand, I do not think we should give a platform for people like Wakefield (for all the reasons Izzy already mentioned). On the other hand, I am against censorship.
    The good thing that came out of it is that De Niro demonstrated an open mind about it and educated himself on the topic. Kudos to him and the Tribeca team!

    • lucy2 says:

      Agree on both counts. I don’t know if I’d call it censorship though – it’s his festival, he has the right to decide which films are screened and which aren’t. He’s not trying to bury the film, just doesn’t want to show it at his festival.
      I think he probably had good intentions, but didn’t fully understand what the film was about and was surprised by the reaction.

      • KWM says:

        Agreed, one festival pulling it from its line up is not censorship, if anyone wants to see it there are still ways to watch it.

        Reading between the lines I gather there are just too many instances of just pure crap in the film that they feel they have a civic or moral responsibility not to show it. As much as we like to think that people will take the next step and do independent research, I think it is safe to say we have all witnessed people taking a documentary, book, celebrity as gospel and the word as gold.

        And honestly it is people like Wakefield and all the other disgraced doctors who practice under the guise as holistic and charge enormous fees to desperate people, they are counting on the fact that people will not do further research.

    • INeedANap says:

      If you submit furry Star Trek fanfiction to Epicurious, they are not going to publish it. This is not censorship. No one is obligated to give anyone else a platform. Ugh.

      • Miss M says:

        We are talking about a movie festival, which is open to a wide range of movies genres and documentaries. I am sorry, but you are comparing apples and oranges here with your example.

  12. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    The unfortunate thing about vaccines is they’re a community issue. If lack of vaccinations only effected those who choose not to vaccinate their children, then that would just be unfortunate for those children.

    But people who are informed and do value their lives are seeing them put to risk. People with leukemia and other health issues suddenly can have their whole immune system compromised by the idle ignorant. Many are suffering as a result.

    Anytime you give something a platform you are saying it has some credibility and should be considered as legitimate. I can hazard a guess at a dozen different fictional movies Robert would have refused to screen because he’d know instantly that the subject matter was offensive and uninformed “Why Rape Is Really The Fault Of Women.” but I suspect good ol Hollywood science led him to believe this topic had room for debate.

    • Kitten says:

      But the thing is, with the advent of social media and the internet, ANYBODY can have a platform. Literally, all you need is a computer and you can start an Anti-Vaxx blog if you want, buy some domain and you can have yourself a website.

      Are we just going to push to shut down every form of media that presents an opinion we don’t agree with?
      Might I suggest we start with Fox News? ;)

      But seriously, why don’t we just not watch the film or not click on the link or not read the blog if we don’t want to support something that we disagree with? I don’t think the solution is attempting to silence people, which is what we do when we cave to public pressure and refuse to show a film that showcases an opposing opinion, no matter how crazy or controversial it is.

      That being said, De Niro has every right to refuse to screen this film, especially if he thinks the Tribeca Film Festival would give it an air of legitimacy. I’m not sure I would have made the same decision, although maybe I would have just to avoid the controversy and to protect the image of Tribeca. I thought he satisfied the public’s concern when he initially made it clear that he doesn’t endorse the film but eh, I guess that wasn’t a strong enough stance for people.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        True, but someone’s personal website is a big difference in platform compared to a million dollar film festival attended by celebs and major entertainment groups. One is Kim Davis ranting that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry in her home and the other is Kim being allowed to make the same case on the steps of the White House, or Donald Trump eagerly alluding to violence and watching the number of violent acts at his campaign stops steadily climb. The bigger the platform the more consequences can arise. For instance we already have several hotspots in this country in which measles and other diseases are on a strong upswing, as a result there have been many more cases of people with compromised immune systems becoming sick. An increase in that directly correlates to an increase in preventable deaths.

        When it comes to public health lines have often had to be drawn that many would be considered censorship or infringing on someone’s rights. Doctor’s offices refusing unvaccinated patients or schools refusing admittance to children without their vaccines. When it comes to public health, it’s not so easy to say, “You do you and I’ll do me.”

        Most people don’t do well with understanding complex science so I don’t think its wrong or shocking that the film exists or that it shouldn’t have been made. I just think his reasoning is laughable. A movie with a simpler subject matter and a more common topic would have been refused. “Abuse: Why You Should Shut Up and Make That Sandwich”

      • Kitten says:

        Gah! Damn you and your fair points, ESE ;)

      • Esmom says:

        Eternal Side-Eye, very well said.

      • Algernon says:

        @ Kitten

        I wondered when this went down over the weekend if De Niro’s initial statement had been a little tougher and not quite so wishy-washy if a lot of the controversy could have been avoided. If he’d said something like, “We know this is controversial but we believe these people have a right to their opinion, and we hope that this film will be met with scrutiny and healthy debate from those who view it.” But instead he came out and kind of made it sound like he was supporting the anti-vaxx position, which isn’t just a matter of opinion, it’s a public health risk. I understand your discomfort with how this played out, but there’s more at stake than just a movie playing a private film festival, it’s literally a matter of life and death for some people. We’re only just now getting around to side-lining anti-vaxxers as a legitimate position, and screening this movie at a high profile film festival could actually end up having a very negative effect and letting the anti-vaxx come back to put people at real risk. I don’t like how it went down, but this movie shouldn’t have been selected at all.

      • Diana B says:

        Preach it ESE, you have said it all.

      • Kitten says:

        @Algernon- The thing is, there have been whispers and rumors about De Niro meeting with a particular FL Congressman who very publicly supports the Anti-Vaxx Movement and who supports this film (*coughs* Bill Posey *coughs*) so it makes me wonder if privately, De Niro is actually on-board with the Anti-Vaxx Movement but doesn’t want to risk public scrutiny.

        I understand the idea of this being a public health issue, but this is a movie, you know? It’s a film. People need to use their own discretion and do their own research when reading or viewing anything that centers around our health.
        I don’t disagree with ESE’s very well-made points, but I still don’t see it as a reason to ban a film.

        I try to stay pretty consistent in how I view censorship and how it relates to art, you know? I don’t make exceptions because I strongly disagree with the subject matter. As I said, I’m ok agreeing to disagree and I appreciate the debate from my fellow commenters.

        I think that this movie is coming up at a time when the Anti-Vaxx thing is a hot topic (see my comment below about the movie Trace Amounts) and next year it will probably be something else that I’ll be defending with WAY too many comments ;)

      • KWM says:

        Eternal, very well said. Most people also have a hard time reading research papers. Perfect example was there was one going around recently on facebook about the number of vax US kids get. If you just read it you would walk away feeling pretty shitty, however I asked my husband to look at it (he is an analytical chemist who has been published 4 times and writes papers so knows what to look for) and buried deep in the last pages, was a tiny note that showed the authors bias. They made a big deal on how the paper was published independently, no money from grants or third parties was accepted. But buried deep was the disclosure that the author sits on the board of an anti-vax group and takes funding from anti-vax organizations.

        As my husband said you have to include any bias you may have, but you can bury them as deep into the paper as you like, in this case it was after the bibliography that was 7 pages long, so who reads that and who would look for it.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        @Kitten

        For me it comes down to the same idea of the government can’t punish you for free speech but can punish you for inciting a riot or shouting fire in a crowded theater. The anti-vaccine movement is an issue that relates to public health and safety. It has no legitimate science or logic.

        Again, I’m not saying this film shouldn’t have been made. I’m saying the mistake came in putting a film full of junk science, putting it in the documentary category, giving it that million dollar platform and then uttering something about there being a discussion and then being shocked when it became the film version of yelling fire in a crowded theater. I’m not talking about theory. I’m saying everytime a movement that infringes on public health is given publicity people’s health suffers as a result. If this documentary was about mermaids or lizard people it’d be one thing. Heck, if there was even any actual debate or scientific proof involved it’d be one thing. But thousands of scientists have analyze the datat and fallen on the side of encouraging vaccines, none have been able to replicate the original findings and if someone was to actually have proof i assume they’d be before medical boards and in science magazines instead of a film festival. That’s like me getting my medical advise from the ads at the back of a magazine telling me about an all new wonderdrug that’ll fix everything.

        The minute it becomes about public safety the rules change from art to national health.

      • Kitten says:

        I’m not sure we can say that it’s not art simply because the makers of the film are labeling it a documentary, or just because of the particular subject matter. Maybe it’s because I went to art school but I’ve never viewed documentaries as somehow more “legit” or fact-based than any other movie genre. In film class, we were taught that the most successful docs often challenged the status quo and I’ve always found that aspect of docs to be the most compelling, regardless of whether I agree with the message.

        At the risk of pissing everyone off, I think the reason why people have an issue with this movie being shown is because we all strongly disagree with the anti-vaxx stance that Wakefield has. Some commenters seem to be saying that this film has the ability to change the minds of millions of thinking Americans–I just don’t agree. That reminds me of the hyperbole and scare tactics that people employ in the political sphere to silence those with a dissenting opinion.

        As I said before, the problem with using the term “junk science” is that what’s “junk science” to you and I may not be viewed as such to someone who holds a competing opinion. For instance, here is a list of “junk science” stories according to Fox News (please note that “global warming” is number 10 on the list)

        http://www.foxnews.com/story/2006/04/06/top-ten-junk-science-stories-past-decade.html

        So if we had enough people saying that “An Inconvenient Truth”, a doc about global warming (which is pretty much the definition of a public health issue) is “junk science” then it could have been pulled from Tribeca? But we would have been angry about that because most of us here view global warming as in indisputable truth.

        *shrugs*

  13. Greenieweenie says:

    I kinda feel bad for De Niro. He probably had an interest in the sense that he just wanted to watch it.

    He’s such a weird bird. Can’t place him. Bad Grandpa. Wut.

    • Kitten says:

      I feel bad for him too but he unintentionally gave this film a ton of press and media coverage simply by pulling it from Tribeca. I’m sure that wasn’t his intention but that’s what happened because controversy always piques the public’s interest.

      Anybody ever heard of the film Trace Amounts? Yeah I didn’t think so.
      It was a documentary of a similar subject matter that was shown at film festivals across the country.

  14. thebeachedwhale says:

    CB, many of us with children on the Autism Spectrum prefer the term “child with Autism” to “Autistic child” because our children are so much more than this diagnosis. It helps people see them as more than the disorder and as an individual who lives with ASD instead of being completely defined by it; particularly because as a spectrum disorder, they are all uniquely affected by it. Thank you.

  15. Algernon says:

    Doctors and nurses who frequent this board, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t pediatricians warn against slowing the vaccine schedule? I’m at the age where most my friends are having babies, and they discuss this all the time. One friend wanted a delayed schedule, and her doctor flat out refused. She said the doc said if the kid had an adverse reaction to the first set of vaccines, they’d slow it down, but if not, which the kid didn’t, they’d proceed as recommended. It seems to me that the delayed schedule thing is just an anti-vaxx pivot from “no vaccines at all ever” since many school districts are beginning to require vaccines before children come to school. They’re still trying to outsmart the science.

    • KWM says:

      Our pediatrician will not take on parents who will not vaccinate or will do a delayed schedule. As he says he has been in field long enough to remember his patients dying from the preventable disease. Meningitis is a huge one, he went from multiple cases a week and a few deaths a year to just a few cases a year and hasn’t had a patient die of meningitis since the introduction of the vaccine

    • Magnoliarose says:

      My pediatrician always does a delayed schedule and is firmly not anti vaxx. She is a mother who followed this schedule with her own children. Her practice is integrative with natural and allopathic medicine offered. But her practice is very strict about vaccines and has seminars to discuss this to debunk the anti vaxx propaganda. She won’t accept anti vaxx parents into her practice under no circumstances because she’s against it and considers the child to be a health risk at large.
      My son had a very minor reaction to a vaccine and we resolved it quickly due to the delayed schedule. It was easy to identify which one it was that way.
      She’s been practicing for over 30 years and stands by our schedule.
      My friend works for the CDC and travels the world with his job and gets very angry with anti vaxxers when he hears their dribble. He has seen the devastation preventable diseases can cause and even thinks it is a form of abuse and social irresponsibility. Strong perhaps but I get his point.

  16. Wren says:

    The problem I have with this issue is that it seems like you have to be on one side or the other. If you question the wisdom of loading newborns up with dozens of shots, you must be against Science. Even if you think vaccines are generally a good thing that most people should get.

    Vaccines as a whole have not been proven 100% safe. Each one is different and has different safety margins. Every single one has its own MSDS. My issue is that we are told that all vaccines are wonderful and not to worry about anything. That’s not okay.

    I think vaccines are good and should be administered, but I also think we have a right to know what we’re getting. I also don’t think we need to jump on every latest new shot available and don’t get me started on flu shots. I’ve had doctors flat out lie to me to try and convince me that I needed a certain shot (I refused, did the research later and no, I didn’t). That’s not a culture I want to foster any more than I want to see whole swaths of the population forgo all vaccinations.

    • Algernon says:

      No vaccine is ever going to be 100% safe. There will always be a percentage of outliers who are allergic, or can’t take it for some other medical reason. That’s why it’s crucial the rest of us get vaccinated. And just out of curiosity, which shot did a doctor lie to you about?

      • Wren says:

        The HPV shot was one. It was when it first came out. They didn’t have the data on it that they do now. If I could go back in time, I’d probably get it, but at the time the info on it was limited. The doctor couldn’t properly tell me what it did, why it was important or what strains of HPV it protected against. She basically tried to strongarm me into getting it, and that made me ridiculously uncomfortable so I refused. Plus it was expensive. New and expensive shot that you can’t even describe to me what it is? Um, no. From what I could find out about it at the time, it seemed unreliable and relatively unproven. I was also almost too old for it too. Of course it’s different now but this was 10 years ago and it really did feel like jumping on the latest new thing.

        Another doctor also barely believed that I had the chicken pox as a child and thus didn’t need that vaccine. I guess I don’t appreciate being treated like an idiot about my own body and health history and vaccination is just one more facet of that. I wish we could have discussions about health concerns and efficacy of vaccines without being labeled as being anti-science or hysterical.

      • KWM says:

        Wren,
        That sounds more like a doctor not doing their own homework and I hope you found a new doctor!

      • Algernon says:

        Yeah, that sounds like a bad doctor. I got the HPV jab right when it came out (I was close to aging out of eligibility) and even with the unknowns still in play, my doctor could tell me what was in the shot, what the known side effects were, expectation of coverage, etc. I understood there were still variables in play, but my doctor was able to explain to me all the known pros and cons, and in the years since, it’s become clear (to me) that it’s a worthwhile vaccine. Maybe you need to find a better doctor who communicates more effectively with you.

      • Izzy says:

        Wren, sounds like you had the misfortune of a lousy doctor – that is absolutely how I categorize doctors who don’t listen to their patients. I had a very mild case of chicken pox as a teenager, when I was 17. So mild, I didn’t see a doctor. My parents knew what it was by sight, and I wasn’t desperately sick from it. Many years later, I was discussing the matter of the shingles vaccine with my immunologist and whether I should get it early. In order to be certain I had had it at 17, she tested my blood for antibodies. Instead of dismissing me outright. That is how doctors should behave. Cautious, thorough and willing to listen to and believe a patient. So sorry you had a different experience. I work with patients who have a rare lung disease. Their average time to diagnosis exceeds four years, with horrific damage done meantime, and I am constantly hearing stories about how their previous doctors didn’t take them seriously. It pisses me off.

      • Wren says:

        I’ve only ever had one doctor who was willing to take the time to explain anything to me instead of “just hold still and it’ll be over faster”. (Not literally what they said, but that was the message.) I’ve been to many doctors and it’s been pretty much the same every time. I get that you’ve got a lot of patients to see, but I do live in this body and treating me like I know nothing about it isn’t helping. I’ve also had to catch prescriptions for drugs that I’m allergic to (if I have to fill out that huge form the least you can do is glance at it) and ask for something else. That’s always fun.

        Maybe I’ve just been really unlucky in this regard. Maybe I’m the one doing something wrong. I don’t know, and honestly I’ve kinda given up on it.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Most doctors and nurses are upfront about the risks of vaccines, including the flu jab. I’m in Ontario, Canada, and for the flu shots given by public health we have to sign papers acknowledging we’ve reviewed the risks, and are also asked about allergy to eggs. It’s just that the risks are by and large very small relative to the enormous good done by vaccination. And if you don’t trust your doctor, perhaps you should get a new one.

      As for “jumping on” new shots — well, we have to weigh the risks against the benefits. For example, people 50+ are now discussing whether to have the newer vaccines that may help with shingles. It’s not 100% preventive but the fact that it may soften the symptoms is enough to have people get it. And it’s a newer vaccine. Perhaps this is because people 50+ were mostly spared from the risk of contracting polio, which was a terrifying disease to our parents, and so we have some basic sense of trust in the value of vaccination.

      Newborns are not “loaded up” with “dozens” of shots, anyway. The vaccination schedule rolls out as they mature. Exaggerated and dramatic language is not the language of science.

      • Algernon says:

        After watching my mother suffer with shingles for years, I jumped on that shingles vaccine, even knowing it’s not fully preventive. If it even lessens my odds of contracting shingles by 10% it’s worth it. Shingles is a *miserable* experience.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Algernon, we got it too, having heard too many horror stories. Here, the doctor recommended that we pick it up at the pharmacy next to her practice – and contact the pharmacy in advance about pickup time. They had mixed it up and had it ready in their fridge. We got it, went to the doc, and 2 nurses took me and my husband within 5 minutes to vaccinate us together. It was like a choreographed routine. The doctor said there is some research suggesting that injecting fresh, cold vaccine increases its effectiveness.

        As for the poster above and the HPV vaccine, it was made clear from the outset that it was found to protect against the most common strains of human papillovirus, which can result in cervical cancer. Doctors were at the time given this information; it’s hard to imagine a doctor ignorant of those facts. Now that the vaccine has been administered for a while, rates of HPV-related cervical cancer are dropping (I don’t have time to verify all of this so any are welcome to refine this statement). The resistance to the HPV vaccine was higher among communities that were uncomfortable with the idea of preventing sexually transmitted disease, which translates into “girls and women have sex.” Apparently, women having cancer (that could be prevented) is a completely normal, natural occurrence.

      • Algernon says:

        @ WATP

        I paid close attention to the HPV debate because I was trying to get my cousin to inoculate her daughters (it prevents *cancer* what are you doing?!), and it seemed to me people did not, maybe still do not, understand all the ways HPV can be contracted. Your precious baby girl can be a pure as the snow virgin until her wedding night and still contract it because her husband swam in a lake once. The other side of the HPV debate should have been creating a vaccine for boys, who carry it at high rates even without sexual contact.

      • Pinetree13 says:

        Plus everything has risks….freezing for a cavity can cause facial nerve paralysis…but rarely. Yet there’s no big push encouraging people not to get freezing at the dentist!

      • Wren says:

        It’s also hard to imagine a doctor prescribing a medication that it is written in big bold letters on your chart that you’re allergic to, but it happens. A lot.

        All I can do is relate my experience. I’m sure many doctors are very informed, this one clearly wasn’t. Or if she was she didn’t feel it worth her time to explain and fell back on “let me just give you the shot, it doesn’t matter what it is”.

    • Greenieweenie says:

      I used to have that attitude too about flu shots–like really? But where I live, people die from the flu. This doesn’t necessarily mean the most common flu vaccine will actually protect from the strain of flu killing people….my point is just that the flu really does kill (in my part of the world, strains include so-called swine and bird flus).

      At the beginning of winter months ago, a local newspaper article said 85 people had died already from the flu and there was a shortage of flu vaccines. Just to put it in perspective.

  17. Stadun says:

    I think one of the issues that end up surrounding films of this sort is legal liability. Too many people take “I saw it in a documentary so it must be true” and go with it without investigating it further on their own. Once a lawyer & anyone with medical knowledge viewed the piece, my guess is that the festival doesn’t want to be accused of promoting or authenticating medical information by someone who is no longer allowed to practice medicine because of his actions in the past on this very issue.
    Plus the way it is being shown as “new” information coming from a CDC whistleblower & the big Pharma companies knowingly producing vaccines to purposely hurt people- I wouldn’t want to be screening it these days of the happy-go-lucky, Sue-at-the-drop-of-a-hat mentality.
    I believe in doing my best to protect my children from everything I can protect them from. I vaccinate because I believe in scientific progress & the (once) 99% eradication of Polio is proof of the benefit of vaccinations.
    You also can’t talk people out of things they believe in, so I personally believe that airing known misinformation (especially medical misinformation) makes you liable if a child is harmed by their misled parent.
    (I also believe that if you refuse to contribute to community health by vaccinating your children, you should lose community benefits such as free education, state paid childcare, etc. But that is a whole different debate.)

  18. Poppy says:

    I think that I’ll watch it just because I can’t quite figure out why vaccine discussions make people so angry and militant. Anything that I put in my body or my children’s bodies, I feel I should be able to research and decide at my own leisure without the pressure from a million strangers probably making their own questionable life/parenting/health choices that I don’t care to comment on.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      You can find the same anti-vaccination (mis) information for free on the Internet, if you wish.

      Vaccine discussions make people angry because children and other people with weak immune systems are dying and suffering once again from diseases that could easily be prevented — and were, until a criminally inclined doctor decided he wanted to make a lot of money by preying on fears about autism.

      You can research at your leisure, but thousands of dedicated, highly trained biomedical scientists have already done the hard work for you.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      It makes me angry because it’s an example of being so comfortable and secure that you can choose to risk your and everyone else’s life. Third world countries where vaccines are begged for because of the risk of illness struggle while a thriving country has citizens who can decide based on misinformation and misunderstanding to forgo legitimate medical progress. By the time the problem is understood it’s too late.

      Actually, it’s kind of horribly hilarious. Darwinism or some such.

      • Asiyah says:

        Eternal Side-Eye, you have a way with words. This is precisely my problem. I even said that to my friend two weeks ago when we were discussing this. Thank you for being so eloquent.

    • Izzy says:

      You go right ahead and not vaccinate your kids. But you keep them the hell away from the rest of us. The rest of us DON’T want measles. We DON’T want mumps. And we REALLY don’t want to see polio come back.

      • Tourmaline says:

        Right, if you make this choice for your kids, be ready and willing to keep them out of school or childcare for up to 3 weeks if there is a measles outbreak in your community.

      • Kitten says:

        +1,000. Not a personal choice if it directly impacts the health of others.

      • KWM says:

        And don’t forget Whooping Cough which is on the rise and kills small little babies, who are to young to get the vaccine because you choose not to vaccinate. Googling whooping couch the stories are just heart breaking, and these are recent stories not from years and years ago.

        The reason people get so upset because once again people are saying my child is more important than you or yours and autism is worse than death.

        Really that is what it means, a person thinks autism is so horrible that they would rather risk their child, another persons child or anyone with a compromised immune system to avoid having a child with autism.

    • Original T.C. says:

      I get upset because people’s “personal” decisions on this impacts me and my family’s health. Just like with smoking. Vaccination has always been a public health issue not a private or personal one. If a colony of smokers and anti-vaccine people want to go and set up camp on the other side of the planet, I have no problems and God bless :)

      But with poor science education in the U.S., the general public as well as actors (who usually barely finish high school) do not understand research studies and statistics enough to understand about the concept of vaccine biology. They are more likely to be influenced by false information. See: Obama birther and Obama Muslim issue.

      Now before going on vacation, I check the vaccination map.

    • Sarah says:

      It’s a silly stance to think you can become better informed from the internet than literally millions of scientists and doctors. If you don’t trust your doctor wheb they say vaccines are safe, how could you reasonably trust them to cure your flu or operate on you or treat your cancer or set a broken bone? Why vaccines and nothing else? You trust a doctor to deliver your baby safely but think it’s all a big pharma conspiracy when it comes to vaccines and that they really want to hurt your kid? Like, what? Do you also grow all your own organic veggies and raise organic fed cows to eat? Do you filter the air you breathe and the water you bathe in? Those things are all impacting your body too so why not those?

  19. Coop says:

    The data presented in Dissolving Illusions by Suzanne Humphries MD is pretty thought-provoking. If one examines the decline in infectious disease with the advent of modern plumbing/sanitation/waste management, along with improved food safety standards, one sees that the credit vaccines get for improved public health is arguably misplaced. While DeNiro has every right to withdraw the film, I think it’s too bad when public pressure shuts down discourse.

    • Izzy says:

      Not all infectious diseases are the same. Plumbing, sanitation and waste management can help with things like cholera, etc. But with chicken pox, measles, mumps and whooping cough, we are talking about being in the same room, and skin contact. Not contaminated water. Just breathing the same air, in some cases. Which is why we saw a measles outbreak at Disneyland last year. Because people had contact with each other. Not their sewer water. Each other.

      • Tourmaline says:

        Amen, Izzy, to EVERYTHING you’ve said.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Thanks Izzy! So much!

        Disease can be air borne, water borne, food borne, vector borne (ticks, mosquitoes), maybe Jason Bourne. The agent can be bacterial (listeria, salmonella, cholera, E coli, Lyme, bartonella…), it can be viral (measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, polio, smallpox…). Lead is another environmental cause of disability now in the news.

        High schools maybe should teach mandatory Health Science? Seems like we need that information at least as much as we need to understand the Krebs cycle.

      • Izzy says:

        Yeah, working in a field that deals with an infectious environmental pathogen, kind of sucks the fun out of things. Everyone is all “ooohhh, water fountains!” And I’m all “oh, crap, don’t inhale the aerosolized pathogens.”

        Come to think of it, I’m still single too… LOL

    • Anon33 says:

      You’re mistaking “data” for one person’s theory, though.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      PS I would think it’s not that the role of vaccination is over-emphasized. It’s that the role of improved hygiene and sanitation are under-emphasized. And so we forget to put away the mayo at the summer picnic and don’t wash our hands enough and don’t fund enough food inspection (Canada has had listeria outbreaks for this reason) and don’t think maintaining public water pipes is as big a deal as it needs to be.

  20. Jag says:

    My issue with vaccines is that the makers have changed the formulas; they add things that shouldn’t be in them now – like bug DNA – and they are less effective in my opinion. The mercury substitute can also cause brain damage in those who are sensitive to such things, and guess what mercury brain damage looks like? Yes, autism. If the formulas were still the old ones, I wouldn’t have a problem with them.

    As an example, I used to get tetanus shots all the time as a kid because I was active and was always scratching myself on barbed wire or rusty nails. I had blood poisoning a lot because of it. (Known as sepsis now.) My arm would be sore for about 3 days after the vaccination and that was it.

    As an adult, I realized that I hadn’t had a tetanus booster in quite a while, so I asked for only it to be given. I was told that I only received the tetanus vaccination – not additionally the pertussis vaccine with it. I couldn’t move my arm for almost 2 weeks, I had a temperature of 105 F for almost a week, and it was over 102 for a total of 2 weeks. I have never reacted to a vaccination like that before. After doing some research, I found out that the maker changed the formula back in either 1990 or 2000. (I’m tired so can’t remember exactly.)

    To make matters worse, that vaccine is only supposed to work for 5 years now. Well, that holds true because I almost died from tetanus with 1 year to go on my vaccination!

    As for the number of vaccinations given at one time, I do think that contributes to some of the horrible reactions. Imagine yourself as an adult getting 5-10 different diseases all at once and you’ll see what I consider the insanity of giving a baby or child so many at one time, since their immune systems aren’t even mature yet. Spaced out is much better, in my opinion.

    As for DeNiro, someone I know worked for the best U.S. research neurologist in the field regarding autism at one time, and the person has been published regarding the subject. (Even came up with a new protocol for home therapy.) I don’t remember exactly what was said about how the person met DeNiro and was evaluating things regarding his son’s home therapy, but suffice it to say that – at the time and his son was a child – DeNiro apparently had a very stubborn streak and was micro-managing his son’s care in not the best way. The person turned down the offer to care for his son because of it. Perhaps DeNiro has learned since then. I wouldn’t know and neither would the person, since he/she left the field due to burn out not too long after that. (Name and gender not given in case the celebrity’s people do searches.)

    One thing that y’all might want to make note of is that a big name maker of an anti-depressant had the person and the team research the cause and effect of anti-depressants and autism. During the study as the findings were being sent to the company, they were told to stop cold turkey. All funding for the study was removed and they were never to speak of it again. The findings? That particular anti-depressant had a causal link to autism even when taken just prior to the woman becoming pregnant, and a definite link when taken during pregnancy. The person told me to stop all anti-depressants for a minimum of 6 months prior to becoming pregnant because of it. I don’t know the name of the anti-depressant, but I will never forget what was said to me.

    I really wish that they would publish statistics of how many women and men were on anti-depressants when they conceived – and while the women were gestating – in addition to talking about vaccinations, when talking about autism.

    • joanne says:

      interesting how you know all these people and companies but don’t name them. my husband has an auto-immune disease. the choice of having a vaccine is personal but if you choose not to have the vaccines, don’t go out in public and endanger other people.

  21. Kelly says:

    He should not have surrendered to pressure, it is good to have different info out there regardless

    • Pepper says:

      But it’s not information, it’s complete misinformation.

      If I made a film ‘proving’ that gay marriage is causing climate change, that’s not providing information or adding to the conversation, it’s just insanity.

    • Izzy says:

      Lies are not information, they are delusion and fantasy.

  22. Jessiah Maxiumus says:

    It’s not information, and it’s not art. It was offered up as a documentary, which by definition isn’t a creative vision of a story, but facts.
    Yes, of course documentaries cherry pick facts to present thier view in the best light, but they don’t knowingly print lies. And from the blurbs put out by the filmmakers themselves, they were presenting multiple “issues” that had already been soundly and roundly disproven.
    They get no pass in terms of “have a debate, present all sides.” They are presenting not only proven lies, but highly inflammatory ones at that.

    And FYI for those that worry about the sheer number of vaccines kids get compared to years ago;
    1. We *have* more vaccines against terrible illnesses than before. This is a GOOD thing.
    2. The amount of antigens in vaccines has decreased dramatically through the years. The total amount of antigens children receive on a routine vaccine schedule in the USA is *significantly* less than those receiving the standard MMR and polio vaccination sets in the 70′s and 80′s
    3. Adjuvants (like thimerasol- which is perfectly safe BTW) make vaccines more effective, and are in such piddling amounts they don’t cause problems. Formaldehyde in a vaccine? Only about a fifth of the amount that naturally occurs in a pear that you eat. Aluminum in a vaccine? Less than the amount your average baby gets in breastmilk.
    The list goes on and on. Please, please- if you have questions about vaccines or science, go to a real doctor or a trusted scientific source for information.