Ben Stiller, the man behind the hit comedy Tropic Thunder, recently defended the film on Twitter after a Trump supporter with a large following expressed disappointment over Stiller’s supposed apology for the film’s use of blackface. Stiller responded by saying, “I make no apologies for Tropic Thunder. Don’t know who told you that. It’s always been a controversial movie since when we opened. Proud of it and the work everyone did on it.”
The film, which was released in 2008, featured Robert Downey Jr. in blackface, a decision that has caused controversy over the years. However, it’s important to note that at the time of its release, the use of blackface in the film was largely well received, with positive feedback from the NAACP and several African American film journalists. The real controversy surrounding the film in 2008 was its portrayal of a character with intellectual disabilities and its use of the R-slur, which led to activist groups boycotting the film.
Stiller has acknowledged the controversy in the past, tweeting in 2018 that he had apologized for the film’s portrayal of intellectual disabilities. However, there is no record of him apologizing for the use of blackface. TMZ reached out to Stiller’s representatives in 2018 to find a record of the apology and did not receive a response.
Stiller has stated that Tropic Thunder was meant to satirize Hollywood and its excesses and that the film’s use of inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations was intended to make a point. Dreamworks, the film’s production company, also issued a statement at the time of the controversy saying that no changes or cuts to the film would be made.
Despite the controversy, Tropic Thunder remains a beloved comedy and a fan favourite. The film’s cast, which included Stiller, Downey Jr., Jack Black, and Tom Cruise, delivered memorable performances that have stood the test of time.
The Wayan Brothers’ White Chicks Comparison
The Trump supporter who tweeted at Stiller also compared Tropic Thunder to the Wayan Brothers’ film White Chicks, noting that the Wayans never apologized for their use of whiteface in the film. While the comparison may seem apt on the surface, there are key differences between the two films.
White Chicks, released in 2004, featured the Wayan Brothers portraying two white women in heavy makeup and prosthetics. While the film was criticized for its portrayal of white women, it was not as controversial as Tropic Thunder, which featured a white actor in blackface.
Furthermore, Wayans did address the controversy surrounding White Chicks, with Marlon Wayans stating in a 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he wouldn’t make the film today due to changes in cultural sensitivity. He also acknowledged that the film had hurt some people and apologized for any pain it may have caused.
In contrast, Stiller has not apologized for the use of blackface in Tropic Thunder, and there is no record of him doing so. While the controversy surrounding the film may never fully subside, it remains a classic comedy that continues to entertain audiences around the world.
Despite the controversy surrounding Tropic Thunder, Ben Stiller has stood by the movie and its content. He has made it clear that he makes no apologies for the movie and that he is proud of the work that everyone did on it. The controversy surrounding Tropic Thunder has been misconstrued, with many people believing that blackface was the main issue. However, the larger controversy at the time was the portrayal of a character with an intellectual disability and the use of the R-slur. While Stiller has previously apologized for this, he stands by the movie and its message.