It started with an Op Ed in The Washington Post:
"What 'Tropic Thunder' Thinks Is Funny
By Timothy Shriver
Monday, August 11, 2008; Page A15
I've been told to keep my sense of humor about the film "Tropic Thunder," which opens this week. Despite my requests, I have not been given the chance to see the movie. But I've seen previews, read about it and read excerpts of the script. By all accounts, it is an unchecked assault on the humanity of people with intellectual disabilities -- an affront to dignity, hope and respect...
Consider this exchange:
Ben Stiller's character: "There were times when I was doing Jack when I actually felt
retarded. Like really retarded."
Robert Downey Jr.'s character: "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."
At another point, about acting like a person with intellectual disabilities, they say:
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, 'Rain Man,' 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 won a ping-pong competition. That ain't retarded. You went full retard,
man. Never go full retard." "
So, today I got an invitation to attend a protest, in part sponsored by the Georgia Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities:
Tropic Thunder Protesters Head for
Atlanta Midtown Arts Cinema Today
Cries of Hate Speech, Calls for Nationwide Boycott
• Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
• ARC of Georgia
• Special Olympics
• Georgia Disability Advocates
Public protest at theater opening of Tropic Thunder, a feature film starring Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. calling for a nationwide boycott.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008, 4:00 PM
Atlanta Midtown Arts Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta 30308
Disability community charges film industry of hate speech, abuse and discrimination against persons with intellectual disabilities. Protests planned at Georgia theaters.
Additional information: Kate Gainer, Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities at (404) 558-7999, email@example.com or Deirdre K. O'Brien, ARC of Georgia at (678) firstname.lastname@example.org."
This protest is truly idiotic. Anyone who has seen the film recognizes how absurd and misguided this is.
Stiller is not making fun of the retarded or mentally challenged.
He's taking the piss out of actors and celebrities who portray retarded and mentally challenged characters on film...actors like:
"To answer our host's question, Jude Law is one of our finest actors...and to answer another question, I believe that depression is eating Mr. Grape...
Giovanni AND Juliette
Is there anything more offensive than a feel good movie about a forbidden romance between the mentally challenged from the director of the feel good movie about the forbidden romance between a millionaire and the street walking prostitute who looks like Julia Roberts?
Where were the protesters?
More surprising to me is how effectively the studio managed the issue of Robert Downey's black face performance. I know I'm not the only one who thought this would be the source of protests...not the discussion surrounding Simple Jack.
I'm the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude!
Perhaps it's his brilliantly nuanced performance--which again is aimed squarely at METHOD actors and the absurd lengths they will go to create an authentic experience--or perhaps the viral marketing campaign prepared audiences for the potential shock of this.
Just because it's a theme song doesn't mean it isn't true
Instead of taking on Tropic Thunder...why not stage a real protest?
I suggest the folks from Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, ARC of Georgia, Special Olympics, and Georgia Disability Advocate take on Crispin Helion Glover, who not only appears in black face, but also works with an entire Down's Syndrome cast in his enigmatic "What Is It?"
(It's screening at the Plaza in Atlanta, with Mr. Glover in person, on August 29 and 30!