Another Tropic Thunder Post!

via CripChick.

So it turns out that this movie, Tropic Thunder, already infamous for Robert Downey Jr. in blackface, has even more associated with it: a heaping of ableism.

I have no doubt Ben Stiller thought he was creating brilliant satire, but (at least in this exchange) it ends up looking more like an excuse to write dialogue with copious amounts of the word “retard”:

Stiller: There were times when I was doing Jack when I actually felt retarded. Like really retarded.
Downey: Oh yeah. Damn.
Stiller: In a weird way, I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that it was okay to be stupid or dumb.
Downey: To be a moron.
Stiller: Yeah.
Downey: To be moronical.
Stiller: Exactly.
Downey: An imbecile.
Stiller: Yeah. When I was playing a character.
Downey: When you was a character.
Stiller: Yeah, I mean, as Jack. Definitely.
Downey: It’s like working with mercury. It’s how science makes art form.
Stiller: Yeah.
Downey: You an artist.
Stiller: It’s what we do, right?
Downey: Everybody knows you never do a full retard.
Stiller: What do you mean?
Downey: Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, Rainman, look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic. Sure. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump. Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and he won a ping-pong competition? That ain’t retarded. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard.

At any rate, there is a petition one can sign, and I would highly suggest to everyone not to see this movie.

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4 Responses

  1. And, like Robert Downey Jr. in blackface, this seems to be about making fun of Hollywood’s treatment of the group in question (the films they mentioned, The Green Mile, etc.) rather than making fun of the group itself. In fact, there’s really no content here that makes the group itself the joke, and the humor in this scene comes from the ridiculousness of Stiller’s straight-faced description of his own empathy for the disabled, contrasted with the juvenile offensiveness of the word he uses (and from Downey’s satirical point that in Hollywood, some disabilities can be made into art and some can’t).

    I’m also not sure what you’re warning us against with this: …I would highly suggest to everyone not to see this movie. Because we might not like it? Because we might be offended by it? Because we’ll reveal ourselves as insensitive? It’s clear that you’re not interested in the movie; it seems that “everyone” will decide for themselves.

  2. Perhaps “everyone” can be amended to mostly include the people who read here. The problem I have is that it’s written and directed by a guy who’s mostly made his living by appealling to the same audiences that would attend movies by the Farrelly Brothers (though, to be fair, I always did like Dumb and Dumber) so I don’t really think this movie accomplishes much. I suppose I’d have to see it, but to be honest, I’d be more comfortable if it was made by other people who are more popular with other audiences.

    But, maybe that’s a problem with the marketing instead – it’s being marketed as some kind of…well, typical Ben Stiller/Jack Black comedy feature.

  3. like i said in a comment on the pandagon review, no, its still not ok. its like vice magazine in film form where its ok to be offensive cos youre making fun of the people who really think like that. the problem is it casts bigots as this rare creature, as opposed to a part of everyone, so you dont have to examine your own predjudice, you can just laugh at the klan or whatever and feel good about yourself.

    in contrast i really liked “harold and kumar escape from guantanamo bay” in part becos nobody was spared, it made clear we are all in some way total assholes, while at the same time humanizing the standard people demonized like george bush and alabama rednecks. it was smart.

    tropic thunder looks to be the opposite of smart.

  4. Robert Downey Jr. cracks me up… he’s got a knack for not taking himself too seriously

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