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'Tropic Thunder' Sparks Outrage

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One word from Ben Stiller's new film Tropic Thunder has some moms ticked.


Let's face it--Ben Stiller's movies are not known for being delicate. However, disability rights groups and the Special Olympics are demanding that Dreamworks pull the new film because of a scene where Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller's two characters (who are also actors) discuss the differences between playing a "retard" and "full retard." Downey, who plays a character in black face (we won't go there) also tosses around several belittling terms regarding mentally challenged individuals, including "moron" and  "imbecile." In fact Ben's character relayed his experience playing Simple Jack with these words, "There were times I actually felt stupid." Huh?

Some moms don't understand what the big deal is, since Ben is known for satire, and says that he is actually poking fun at actors. Dreamworks spokesman Chip Sullivan said in a public statement that the "film is in no way meant to disparage or harm the image of individuals with disabilities"--and while the movie giant has pulled some promotional materials for the film (including a Simple Jack promo Web site), they aren't making any changes to the movie.

But when actors playing actors who play mentally challenged characters poke fun at their roles, is that going too far?

One momlogic staffer who doubles as a comedy writer had this to say: "I thought it was hilarous! The reason that it works comedically is because the characters are incredibly stupid. So instead of making fun of the mentally challenged--it's not an insult to the mentally challenged--it actually lifts them up because it shows how ignorant people really are. If you have any respect for those characters then it would be completely insulting. He's trying to insult actors. You know who should be insulted? Actors. They should call the actors union."

But John Paizis, founder and director of Performing Arts Studio West, had a different opinion: "The unabashed use of the "R" word in the film Tropic Thunder is a concrete example of the continuing need for education of the film and television community regarding the dignity and abilities of persons with developmental disabilities. I have worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for 28 years. I have seen the pain that has been suffered by this population by the use of this word. To persons with developmental disabilities, it is equivalent of the using the "N" word and its effect on African Americans. I am a firm believer that the enlightenment of the entertainment industry is best served by introducing directors, writers, producers and casting directors to talented, trained actors with these types of disabilities."

Click to see the controversial Tropic Thunder clip.

What do you think: completely offensive or harmless fun?

next: I Kissed a Girl
19 comments so far | Post a comment now
Ridiculously Stupid Movie August 13, 2008, 5:33 PM

This movie feels wrong on so many levels…blackface and ridiculing those with physical and mental challenges..

WHO in their right mind is so F**ked up would think this constitutes humor?

MomOfLindsay3 August 13, 2008, 7:14 PM

I don’t think this is funny either. It’s going to far, and I have no desire to see this movie. It’s sad when people have to resort to humiliating others for humor.

Anonymous August 13, 2008, 9:23 PM

Give me a break. It’s a flippin’ movie!! If you don’t want to see it, don’t. Does anybody remember the movie “Blazing Saddles”? Many consider it a classic and it is pretty much the most un-PC movie ever — and it’s hilarious!

Anna August 13, 2008, 10:00 PM

political correctness is beginning to get on my nerves- many comedies make fun of certain groups, why are people making such a big deal over this case? “Deuce bigalo male giglow”, made fun of a lot of groups including woman who; are obese, tall, have certain mental illnesses, prostetic limbs etc. You didn’t get any threats to pull that movie? I am surprised that feminists were not all over that movie. People just need to get a life and move on.

Gerri August 14, 2008, 8:07 AM

I’t just a movie people. I’d be more
upset about all the killings,gore and
wierd things some movies have that kids seem to love to see that’s more harmful.
Some people just like to complain on anything. Get a life/rather find another hobby.

Jennifer Carpenter August 14, 2008, 10:46 AM

Come on people! Aren’t there better ways we can spend our time and money than this? If you’re offended by the movie, don’t see it, don’t let your kids see it, tell your friends not to see it — AND THEN MOVE ON TO SOMETHING ELSE! Spend some time with your family. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Visit a grandparent in a nursing home. Some people just need to get a life! AND FAST!!!!

Alisha August 14, 2008, 10:49 AM

Its just a movie! If you dont like it then just dont go watch it and dont support them that way.

Cathy M August 14, 2008, 12:03 PM

Yes, it’s “Just a movie”— but is a movie that teaches 14-25 year old males to use offensive language and ridicule one of the most vulnerable populations, that frequently cannot speak for themselves. This isn’t about being “PC”— that would be using the word “handicapped” instead of developmental disablities— it’s about deliberately demeaning a class of people. Thanks to Ben Stiller and Dreamworks not only will the use of this offensive word be imitated, but he has created new phrasiology to have repeated. Shame on Stiller and Shame on Dreamworks.

dani August 14, 2008, 12:04 PM

its just a movie with words… we need to care more about the violence and no regard for human life in movies and in the news. We are getting too complacent with it all and that is where the line should be drawn in films, in video games, in music and the most important stage is the world! We need to stop the hate, the violence and the war against each other.
I think the hippies had it right in the 60’s. We need more peace, love and NOT WAR! We need more peace, compassion and care for each other instead of all this hate. Peace

Amber August 15, 2008, 11:57 AM

Its just a movie. Kids don’t learn from movies, they learn things from there parents. Some parents will talk smack about people in front of their kids. And some people wanted to know why some kids these days are so disrepectful, and they get that from their parents not TV. Like teen sex and pregnacy its not TV, the parents just don’t care until they tell their parents that they are pregnay. So wake up people.

Ranman August 17, 2008, 10:38 PM

What that guy, John Paizis said totally ROCKS! Roles with characters who have developmental disabilities need to be played by people with developmental disabilities who are professionally trained as actors. Just like white actors play roles of white characters and black actors play roles of black characters. This isn’t the dark ages anymore, where men played all the character roles, including the female parts. This is the 21st Century and people need to really grow up and get educated on not just what is “PC”, but on what is real.

Stupid Sheeple August 21, 2008, 1:48 PM

This is for all the people who think “this is just a movie,” who are too stupid to even realize all of the NUMEROUS ways we’re affected by what we WATCH AND READ AND LISTEN TO.

And someone said “oh, it’s just words…” VERY GOOD! So, I guess if I called your child a “stupid, usless, worthless piece of sh*t” OVER AND OVER…it wouldn’t have any effect, right…because they’re only words.

Congrats…you’re proof the Entertainment/Media has done a VERY good job of turning most of you into mindless drones with no real opinions of your own.

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