The movie Tropic Thunder, a high-budget skewering of Hollywood’s high-budget Oscar bait is being pushed to the top of the Box by disability organizations. The first cluster on Google News for the title + “retarded” drew over 1,800 at the time of this post.
Ben Stiller plays a frustrated, Oscarless star who’s attempt to snag one by playing the disabled “Simple Jack” falls flat. Then jungle combat highjinx ensue with Jack Black, and the most image-rehabilitated star of the decade Robert Downey Jr. (in blackface).
The film looks promising for Summer fare, though The Times pinpoints its weakness as the scene at the crux of this controversy:
“That’s how he ends up blowing what might have been the film’s sharpest scene, involving Kirk’s explanation for why Tugg’s performance as a retarded man in “Simple Jack” doomed his chances for an Oscar, an elucidation that includes a clever taxonomy of all the ways it’s permissible to play intellectually challenged in Hollywood (“Forrest Gump” is statuette-worthy, though not “I Am Sam”) and a grindingly unfunny repetition of the word retard.”
And that’s the game. Agitating garners publicity for both sides. The only time is doesn’t work is when the satire doesn’t have perfect pitch. The fuss, I don’t think isn’t totally retarded. It’s awareness and satire walking hand in hand.