This story has been making the rounds lately and it seemed like time that the Geeks of Doom chimed in with some soft and chewy opinion of our own on the matter.
For those of you who haven’t heard yet, it goes a little something like this: Tropic Thunder comes out this week, and even though it’s a movie people have been aware of, read about, seen pictures and footage of, and there’s even been 250 test screenings; and only now have people found something to bitch about with the Ben Stiller-directed film — stating that it has insulting humor toward people with mental disabilities.
Seeing as how I’ve yet to see the film, I don’t know how much of this goes on, but apparently there’s a heavy dosage of humor that involves the touchy subject and this has angered a large group of people. From what I’ve read, this is all concentrated mainly at a small spoof within the movie about Stiller’s character — a high-paid action star named Tugg Speedman — takes on the role of mentally impaired farmhand in a movie called Simply Jack so that he could be taken more seriously as an actor. A few folks here at Geeks of Doom did attend a preview screening of Tropic Thunder and they told me that several times in movie, the Jack character is referred to as “retard,” but that the joke wasn’t aimed at the mentally handicapped, but at actors who portray mentally challenged people in an effort to obtain Oscar gold (say, like Sean Penn in I Am Sam).
That joke doesn’t seem to be so offensive that it should incite a boycott of the film.
Leading the charge against Tropic Thunder are Timothy Shriver (Chairman, Special Olympics) as well as David Tolleson and Peter Berns who are members of the National Down Syndrome Congress and were all pretty insulted by the movie. Mr. Tolleson and Berns said that they couldn’t recall any amount of groups forming against a film like this, that there was some concern over Napoleon Dynamite, but they’d never seen anything like this. On top of this all, Shriver feels they approached the racial humor cautiously while being completely ignorant of the mentally challenged.
Tolleson also said:
I came out feeling like I had been assaulted.
And Shriver added:
The most disappointing thing, the most incredible thing, is that nobody caught it.
OK, folks, here it is. The reason nobody caught this, was because there is NOTHING to catch. You think this is the first OR last time this will be the subject of some humor in a movie? Maybe most importantly is, what is the motivation for all of this really? I’m sure these guys do a lot of really great work for their organizations, but if you ask me, this looks a lot like some guys saying some shit that doesn’t need to be said to bring attention their way.
Stiller, who also wrote Tropic Thunder, explained his reasoning behind the parody to the
“I’ve never played a mentally impaired character,” said Stiller. “But I put myself out there. I’ve had flops. There is stuff I do that could easily become parody too. Again, it always comes back to what we are satirizing: the actors and the Hollywood system. What do you do to be taken seriously? How far do you go?”
This is a MOVIE and countless topics that could insult masses of people are touched on over and over and over and yes, they catch some controversy from it, but for this to be as big of a story as it is and to have people trying to form a small army to boycott the film is absurd. If you’re going to do something like this, have something solid to go on; don’t just randomly pick a movie that sorta-kinda-sometimes-lightly touches on a soft spot that just happens to have been used in much more insulting ways over the years. Hell, if I had to guess, the Warren character in Stiller’s There’s Something About Mary was probably even more insulting than this and where were the armies then? Oh, that’s right, they were anti-ejaculate armies that time. They’re taking turns.
In our world there will ALWAYS be something that insults someone somewhere. If you don’t like something, don’t watch it, don’t read it, don’t eat it, don’t kiss it, and don’t buy it. What’s even more disgusting about this is the fact that it doesn’t matter the group or the topic, if someone says it, the rest will follow without a clue in the world what they’re doing. If a soccer mom cries out that Grand Theft Auto is evil, 95% of the other soccer moms will stand behind her without even knowing what the shit a GTA is. What I see here is some dudes saying that this is the most insulting thing in the world towards the mentally challenged and everyone else just getting in line behind them.
The most controversial thing in all of this is one of the main names involved, the aforementioned Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, who just happens to have been a co-producer on the DreamWorks picture Amistad. Maybe that’s just an interesting coincidence with Tropic Thunder being a DreamWorks picture, or maybe there was a little more to that relationship than we know of and this was his chance to cause some trouble.
More interesting to me is another project that Mr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, was an executive producer on — The Ringer, which had Johnny Knoxville as a man trying to rig the Special Olympics by pretending to be a mentally challenged participant in an effort to win money to pay off his debts.
[Source: NY Times]