“Tropic Thunder” debuted in 2008 with an all-star cast. All the actors played characters far from their depth, but one character made fans infuriated. Robert Downey Jr.’s character was supposed to be a white Australian named Kirk Lazarus for his in-movie, movie character he played a black man. Weird right, because Downey is clearly not a black man. In order for Downey’s character to become this black man he undergoes a surgery to change his skin color. Long story short, he is in blackface the entire movie. This was infuriating to movie goers for many reasons and now fans are demanding he apologize for his insensitivity.
So why is this coming up now? Who cared enough to make it a thing again? apparently, it’s all thanks to newly woke teenagers. The quarantine has given people a lot of time to watch things they would have never watched before. Let’s not forget that “Tropic Thunder” is a 12-year-old movie that didn’t do as well as the studio projected. So while many people saw it and it made over the budget, it was overshadowed by many things like Downey’s other 2008 movie, “Iron Man”. At the time, moviegoers were offended by several things that took place in the film and not all of them were things that Downey’s character did.
In addition to the blackface, Downey’s character also had a line about playing a mentally challenged character you apparently “never go full r****d”. This line caused well over 20 advocacy groups to protest the opening of the film and use petitions to get it pulled from theatres. Advocacy groups were also upset that Ben Stiller kept re-creating that mentally challenged character (he was supposed to be doing it under duress but ended up living for it). The film was written by three very well know white males Justin Theroux, Stiller, and Etan Cohen and it was directed by Stiller as well.
Twitter went nuts calling out Downey and the film for their faux pas. “I don’t careeeee if tropic thunder was “satirical and meant to show blackface in a negative light” bc im damn sure we didn’t need a white man covered in brown paint to remind us,” said one Twitter user. Another felt that the criticism of the film was way too harsh pointing out that it was meant to call out Hollywood for doing things like this all too often.
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rdj's blackface in tropic thunder is an outsized commentary on white actors playing POC & an indictment of hollywood going out of its way not to cast black actors in roles of substance, but also isn't for white audiences to gauge its offensiveness.
— a l x g r d t (he/him) (@menace2snacks) April 30, 2020
“How did I know that a soon as I saw Tropic Thunder trending it was about RDJ doing blackface. The entire point of it is satire at the concept, that method acting sometimes causes actors to make awful decisions. Also, at the establishment not casting POC when they should.” Downey claims he has “no regrets” about the elephant in the room AKA the blackface situation. He caught a lot of flack when the film initially came out, he probably does not feel the need to address it again in length because a bunch of Gen Zer’s watched something that wasn’t on their phone.