Ben Stiller will not back down from the decision to have Robert Downey Jr. wear blackface in the 2008 film Tropic Thunder. Stiller, 57, went on social media earlier this week to address a specific Black Twitterer who asked him to “stop apologizing for doing [Tropic Thunder].”
“I make no apologies for Tropic Thunder. Don’t know who told you that,” Stiller responded. “It’s always been a controversial movie since when we opened. Proud of it and the work everyone did on it.”
Stiller produced, directed, and acted in Tropic Thunder, which garnered much praise as well as controversy when it first came out. The movie was attacked for its liberal use of the R-Word and claims of potential anti-Semitism.
In the flick (which is a movie-within-a-movie), Downey Jr. played an Australian method actor [named Kirk Lazarus] who undergoes “pigmentation alteration” so he can take on the role of a Black character who subsequently acts like “a Vietnamese lead farmer.” And he has addressed the criticism in the past, too.
Downey Jr. appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience three years ago. He and host Joe Rogan discussed whether a movie like Tropic Thunder could even be produced in today’s cultural climate.
“I think that it’s never an excuse to do something that’s out of place and out of its time, but to me, it blasted the cap on [the issue],” the actor said. “I think having a moral psychology is job one. Sometimes, you just gotta go, ‘Yeah, I effed up.’”
“In my defense,” he added, “Tropic Thunder is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception.” Downey Jr. saw the role of Kirk Lazarus as a commentary on “the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they’re allowed to do on occasion.”
“[Ben] knew exactly what the vision for this was, he executed it, it was impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie,” he also added. “And 90 percent of my Black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great.’ I can’t disagree with [the other 10 percent], but I know where my heart lies.”
See how Twitter feels about Stiller refusing to apologize below:
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