It was only a matter of time before the mindless pablum being produced by Hollywood movie moguls went so far over the line that it engendered a mass response.
The offending movie in question is "Tropic Thunder," a clearly inane, low-end vehicle from Dreamworks directed by, and starring, Ben Stiller (who else?). In the movie, Stiller’s character, called Simple Jack, is repeatedly called a retard. Americans with intellectual disabilities don’t care for Stiller’s pranks and are organizing a nationwide protest against "Tropic Thunder."
Dreamworks, the movie’s producer, says the Stiller character was created to poke fun at the extraordinary lengths some actors will go to to land a role. Yeah, sure. The reality is obvious: intellectually-challenged people are yet another easy laugh target. And, if there’s anything consistent about today’s "funny" movies, it’s that they go for the easy laughs at the expense of the physically and mentally challenged.
Stiller’s brand of comedy (and, by the way, feel free to insert Will Ferrell or scores of other leading "comedic" actors) plays to the lowest common denominator. He’s been offending Americans of all types, sizes and shapes for years now. So, it’s refreshing to see someone stand up in the name of common sense and decency.
There’s a fine line between humor and insult, and Stiller’s brand of comedy has been overstepping the boundaries for years. The only way he and his ilk will ever stop is if it impacts their wallets.
So, here’s hoping Americans with intellectual disabilities, as well as their families and friends avoid "Tropic Thunder" in droves. Maybe, it will force the writers, producers and directors to roll up their sleeves and do something unique: create something that’s funny rather than offensive.
Fair enough. I don’t doubt I’d laugh.
I do agree that people with disabilities or families members that deal and care for them would find this offensive. At the same time, though, this reviewer, in his semi-healthy mind and body, would offer that these same people are overreacting and directing their angst at something that is not meant to offend them.
I’d also be willing to bet (the price of admission) that if you saw the movie, you’d laugh plenty.
Thanks for the review, Lunchboy. You’re clearly the Roger Ebert of the blogosphere 🙂 Keep in mind, though, that you were viewing the flick through the filter of a healthy mind and body (I’m assuming here. And, I’m also assuming you don’t have a close friend or family member with disabilities). Can you see how the movie might make them feel?
I saw the movie. I thought it was funny. In fact, the house was almost full and everyone was laughing. Not as good as Airplane, but certainly not junk.
The jokes were against Hollywood actors for the “extremes” that these “actors” go through in order to nail their parts…not against people with disabilities or African Americans.
where’s George Carlin when you need him?
Thanks Sam. Great point. Tropic Thunder has obviously stirred up some real angst the past few days. One of the more salient points made by the movie’s opponents was this: what Airplane and Blazing Saddles did was over the line and politically incorrect. But, both were released in pre-PC days. In other words, there weren’t any “guidelines” then for what was and what wasn’t unacceptable. Ben Stiller has not only recycled tired comedic approaches from the 1970s, he’s also ignored what’s acceptable and what isn’t. That said, he has succeeded in introducing the “R” word to the PC vocabulary. For him, that and the paycheck are probably huge wins.
I haven’t seen the movie in question, either, but by pure coincidence, I actually watched Blazing Saddles and Airplane! back-to-back this weekend, having never seen either film before. I don’t know the content of Tropic Thunder well, but I do know that Blazing Saddles‘ version of offending people with its uncomfortable racial, sexual, etc. slurs, seemed to be done to prove a point–to break barriers in a way that drew attention to itself, not solely for cheap laughs (although for that to).
I do think there’s a distinction between using these devices as a shortcut for laughs and using these devices for some greater artistic reason. It’s sort of how writing teachers say that you have to learn grammar well before you’re allowed to break the rules.
Dear interested observer. This is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. You definitely cite some legitimate issues. But, it’s also a “two wrongs don’t make a right” situation. Mel Brooks went over the line, yes. But, he was also a true pioneer. Does that make it right? Nope. But, unlike Stiller, Brooks was an original. Your witness.
Repman this is from the article you cited:
“In a statement on Sunday, Chip Sullivan, a DreamWorks spokesman, said the movie was ‘an R-rated comedy that satirizes Hollywood and its excesses and makes its point by featuring inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations.'”
“Don’t you think you should see the movie before you pass judgment?
“Don’t you think that “Airplane!” also crossed some lines? We can all laugh at that movie. Certainly children being spoken to about sexual acts is not acceptable in real life, but we all did laugh at it. I also think that your point re Stiller ‘offending Americans of all types, sizes and shapes for years now.’ shows that he is spreading the love, so to speak.”
I say: “Blazing Saddles,” (“where the white women at?” ETC.) “The Producers” (“spring time for Hitler and Germany” ETC.), “Caddy Shack,” (did you hear the one about the Jew, the catholic priest and the [n’roe]” ETC) “M*A*S*H,” (“Spearchucker” ETC) “Trading Places” (“do you think I’d have a [n-word] run the family business?” ETC).
You said: “I can’t reserve judgment on this particular film, Lunchboy, because I have no plans to ever see it.”
I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that your reaction to the Times article is legitimate and consistent therefore, I accordingly deduce that you’ve missed some very funny movies.
I can’t reserve judgment on this particular film, Lunchboy, because I have no plans to ever see it. I was basing my reaction on the Times article, which cites chapter and verse on its content. ‘Airplane’ genuinely broke new ground and, in retrospect, was tame in comparison to what Stiller, et al are producing today. The sidebar to all is the total lack of comedic creativity that’s coming out of Hollywood. The Stiller, Ferrell bandwagon just keeps recycling the same old, same old.
Don’t you think you should see the movie before you pass judgment?
Don’t you think that “Airplane!” also crossed some lines? We can all laugh at that movie. Certainly children being spoken to about sexual acts is not acceptable in real life, but we all did laugh at it. I also think that your point re Stiller “offending Americans of all types, sizes and shapes for years now.” shows that he is spreading the love, so to speak.
Today, weapon yielding parents yell or hurt coaches and refs for their kid’s equal playing time or perceived blown calls. Kids sit during the Pledge of Allegiance or don’t have to say “under God.” You once blogged about a school that now “recognizes sneezes” vs. saying “God bless you” following the convulsive expulsion of air from the lungs.
Of course I support anyone with any type of disability, but I think that this is another case of our society going to extremes and taking itself too seriously.