August 11, 2008

The Mentally Handicapped vs. "Tropic Thunder"

When I saw "Tropic Thunder" last week, I assumed its most controversial aspect would be the fact that Robert Downey, Jr., spends most of the movie in blackface. Or maybe some would see Tom Cruise's foul-mouthed studio exec as some sort of anti-Semitic caricature.

But apparently the boycott threats are coming from another direction- the mentally handicapped. Timothy Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics and also a columnist, took to the pages of the Washington Post Monday to call for filmgoers to "join me in shutting this movie out of our lives and our pocketbooks."

The offense? Ben Stiller in the movie plays an actor who, in an earlier flop movie, had starred as "Simple Jack," a mentally handicapped farm worker. Stiller and Downey have one dialogue scene in which Downey explains that if he wants to win an Oscar, Stiller ought to play a character- like Raymond from "Rain Main," or Forrest Gump- who isn't "all the way retarded."

Shriver admits in the piece that he hasn't seen the film, though if he had, he would know that the target of the film's satire is clearly the vapidity of Hollywood actors themselves, rather than the mentally handicapped. It's hard to tell someone who's offended not to be, but in this case I would argue that the outrage is misplaced.

My full review of the film will be up later this week; I found it very very funny when it was on, but far from consistent in its delivery of laughs.

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 11, 2008 08:45 PM

With Barack Obama on the verge of becoming the next American President it seems that the white establishment has declared an unofficial war on all things African. The latest attack arrives in theatres this week with the new American film, "Tropic Thunder" in which a white man (Robert Downey Jr. pictured above) puts on blackface and pretends to be a son of Africa.

A white man was recently caught plotting to assassinate Senator Obama, the African mayors of Detroit and Baltimore are being harassed by the white legal system and the American entertainment system creates films such as "Tropic Thunder".

This film is also an insult since it makes light of the fact that the U.S. government forced thousands of African men to take part in its war of aggression against the people of Vietnam.

There is nothing amusing about blackface. It is a highly racist and offensive depiction of Africans. Its sole purpose is to demean us and to propagate the stereotype that Africans are on this Earth merely for the amusement and abuse of the white man.

Posted by: TruthFirst at August 12, 2008 02:31 AM
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