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Protesting ‘Tropic Thunder’
Why mental disability groups are calling for a boycott of the movie.
W

hat happened
Dozens of organizations, such as the American Association of People with Disabilities and the Special Olympics, turned out on Monday to protest Tropic Thunder at its premiere in Los Angeles. The groups are upset over the film’s repeated use of the word retard, and over one of Ben Stiller’s roles in the movie as a mentally disabled character named Simple Jack. (AP)

What the commentators said
I’ve seen previews of the movie and “read excerpts of the script,” said Timothy Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, in The Washington Post, and “by all accounts, it is an unchecked assault on the humanity of people with intellectual disabilities—an affront to dignity, hope and respect.” I hope people “will join me in shutting this movie out of our lives and our pocketbooks.”

You might want to “see the movie first” before jumping on the “protest bandwagon,” said James Sanford in MLive.com. Tropic Thunder is “designed to shock and it does.” But the point of using “absurdly offensive language” is to illustrate how “shockingly clueless and insensitive” the movie’s characters are, and how little they know “about life outside their Hollywood bubble.”

“Ben Stiller must have known” when he co-wrote and directed Tropic Thunder that there could be “a storm of backlash,” said Ben Barna in Black Book. But boycotting the movie is likely to just “enhance viewer awareness and curiosity, and will—if anything—increase the film’s total gross.” In the end, Stiller and company win.

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