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Tropic Thunder Controversy: Stiller Responds

| Filed under: Film FlickersBen Stiller


As previously mentioned, a number of disability groups are calling for the boycott of Tropic Thunder because of its portrayal of the mentally challenged.

Director/Writer/Star Ben Stiller just spoke to MTV about the outcry.

He says:

"It's sort of edgy territory, but we felt that as long as the focus was on the actors who were trying to do something to be taken seriously that's going too far or wrong, that was where the humor would come from," Stiller insisted. "[The joke is on] actors reaching for roles in terms of hopefully winning awards."

"Some people have taken this as making fun of handicapped people, but we're really trying to make fun of the actors who use this material as fodder for acclaim," co-writer Etan Cohen echoed to MTV. "The last thing you want is for people to think you're making fun of the victims in this who are having their lives turned into fodder for people to win Oscar

Advocacy groups have called for the studio, Dreamworks to make changes related to the portrayal of the mentally challenged in the film.

Will you see the flick or do you plan on boycotting?

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185 comments to “Tropic Thunder Controversy: Stiller Responds”

More comments: [1] 2 »

  1. 1

    Love Ben Stiller!

  2. 2

    As usual, people are OVERREACTING. Get a sense of humor, America!
    I'm definitely seeing it!

  3. 3


  4. 4

    I will watch this movie no matter what people say! I love Ben Stiller!

  5. 5

    GIVE ME A BREAK!!It can't be any more offensive than The Ringer or any of the Jackass movies, for that matter….shit, it is a comedy! IT isn't supposed to be taken seriously…..now Obama lieing through his teeth, constantly, and the media ignoring it, well that is offensive!!!

  6. 6

    I still want to see it. I love Ben Stiller. Im sure its not that bad. Those people need to quit being so friggin sensitive.

  7. Dania says – reply to this


    We won't know till we see the actual thing. :/

  8. 8

    …Maybe during the time when they aren't watching this film they can look up the difference between actually making fun of mental disabilities and satirizing people who don't understand mental disabilities.

    I seriously just think they don't get it, and don't want to take the time to understand what anyone else is saying because it's easier to get offended and hide behind the banner of being righteous and morally superior or whatever they think they are.

    I'll be seeing the film because I love Ben Stiller.

  9. 9


  10. 10

    I can't believe that

  11. 11

    im gonna see it :o )

  12. 12

    Oh please, as if the so-called "offensive words" haven't been used in a million other movies. I don't recall many boycotts against all of THOSE…
    People need to lighten up and learn to tell the difference between a joke and actual offense.

  13. 13


  14. 14

    see it!

  15. 15

    I can't wait to see this FUNNY movie in all it's HILARITY about funny stuff because I'm an ADULT and know the difference between being FUNNY and making fun of people with mental disabilities. Get over it people. Life would be so much better if you weren't RUINING it all the time focusing on petty things. Why not make a stink about all the starving children in the US instead of this?!

  16. 16

    I agree with what Ben Stiller is saying. I would love to see this movie. I think people are over reacting.

  17. 17

    I would totally see it!

  18. 18

    yes i will see it. comedy shouldn't have limits.

  19. 19

    People need to get a freaking life, it's a movie, if they don't like it don't go see it!

  20. matt says – reply to this


    coming from a kid who has two fake legs…….who gives a shit, im going to see this, comedy gold!

  21. 21

    Plan to see it, people need to chill and realize this is satire.

  22. 22

    I'll still see it

  23. 23


  24. 24

    Re: HollyHysteria


  25. 25

    I will absolutely see it bc (1) Robby is in it, and (2) it looks hilarious. I love satire! Go Robert, bring home the bacon baby.

  26. 26

    boycotting this movie for that reason is retarded (joking! couldn't resist). But seriously, people should boycott this movie because BEN STILLER IS NOT FUNNY. He should stop making movies– seriously all of them suck. OK, all except Royal Tenenbaums, and that's only because he only played a bit part in it.

  27. 27

    I boycott anything that Ben Stiller is in I can't stand him! He is NOT funny at all!

  28. 28

    Seeing it on DVD. Not a big movie goer but I definetly won't boycott. There is humor in almost everything! Get over it and stop looking for reasons to have a cause.

  29. 29

    Political correctness will bring down this country because instead of bringing us together it's dividing us even further. Enough is enough already. People need to get back to having a sense of humor and realize the difference between humor and disrespect. I will definitely go see this film for two reasons: 1) I like Ben Stiller; and 2) As a statement against political correctness.

  30. 30

    People get so worked up for no reason. You want to ban the word retard? What's next? You can't call someone lame because it's mean to people who can't walk. You can't call someone stupid because it's mean to someone who didn't graduate from high school. You can't call someone dumb because that's actually an insult to people who can't talk. People need to get over this idea that the world is going to be sweet and touchy-feely all the time. If you don't like that a movie uses the word retard. Guess what you should do: DON'T GO SEE IT.

  31. 31

    I agree with what Stiller's saying. I can sort of understand where people might be get offended (if they're looking for a fight) but it's a satire - and it's supporting these issues. Have a sense of humor.

  32. pomme says – reply to this


    get funny!

  33. 33

    Re: quartknee – And leave everyone else alone about it.

  34. 34

    I have never liked Ben Stiller. I find him tacky, tasteless & obnoxious.

  35. 35

    I think people are overreacting, but I already had no interests in seeing the movie.

  36. 36

    I will be boycotting this movie. I understand what Stiller and Cohen are saying. What they do not understand is that the r-word is not only derogatory, but the word itself does harm. Imagine every time you were teased, beat up, abused, etc. they were using that word. It's like the n-word and the f-word rolled into one. The exception is that people with disabilities have even less social and political power than African Americans and GLBTs, so they are not going to turn around and "own the word."

    This movie and a million other social and entertainment outlets are further dehumanizing and devaluing people with disabilities.

  37. 37

    I can see from both sides of view having what is HOPEFULLY a temporary disability. I can see how if you're NOT the whole can be humorus and if you ARE handicapped in any way, can take it offensively. It's a REALLY fine line, but I feel that accusations should NOT be made if they have not seen the film yet. Previews and be extremely misleading. I don't know if I'll see the flick, but if I don't it won't because I'm boycotting it.

  38. 38

    Ask Colin Ferrel if he thinks this is political correctness.

  39. 39

    good one stiller. i'd watch it.

  40. 40

    I'm gonna see it. It looks hilarious!!!

  41. 41

    I'm almost as excited to see this film as I was to see the Dark Knight. Ben Stiller is a comic genius. LOVED Zoolander as his first self written/directed film and I'm hoping this second attempt will be just as funny.

  42. 42

    I'll see it and probably think it's hilarious. Comedies make fun of ANYONE and EVERYONE. Don't get so flipping touchy when the spotlight turns to your group. I'm sure you laughed at all the others. Besides, it can't be worse than Zoolander, and he played a pretty dimwitted guy in that, too. Best movie ever!!

  43. 43

    I'll totally see it! I love Ben Stiller and Jack Black!

  44. 44

    I trust their judgement. They make great movies!

  45. 45

    Oh Perez ~

    Men's synchronized swimming is on the television RIGHT NOW. They are in itsy bitsy little bathing suits too.

    And no, I'm not seeing this dumb looking movie.

  46. 46

    Are people so bored that they have to make a big deal about something so meaningless? Wow. Grow up and go see the movie if you think it looks funny.

  47. 47


  48. 48

    There was no controversy when Forrest Gump swept the Oscars. Was it a believable story of a mentally challenged man? NO. Is Tropic Thunder? NO. Did anyone complain when "Something About Mary" had a retarded brother who was VERY BELIEVABLE in it? NO.

    Seems like you make a movie about ANYTHING and there's someone out there claiming FOUL. Like Penn and Teller said on BULLSHIT! last week, people are too concerned about being politically correct and the SENSITIVITY training crap is just that — CRAP.


  49. 49

    Gonna see it. PC is ok to a point……get over it!

  50. 50

    it's bothering me that people are saying that advocacy groups are getting worked up for no reason. do your research on the movie and you will understand why they are getting worked up. it's not just a few people saying the word 'retard' 10 or so times. it's woven into the entire plot. at one point ben stiller's character calls his agent played by matthew mcconaughey and mentions wanting to adopt, mcconaughey's character then looks down at a picture of a kid who has down syndrome and says something along the lines of, well at least you have the choice i'm stuck with mine. this is not funny. this in no way is making fun of how actors, what was it, "try[ing] to do something to be taken seriously that's going too far or wrong". before i realized all of this was going on in the movie, i never even found it to be remotley funny. i suppose to each his own, see it or don't. but when you're sitting next to a person with a mental disability at this movie, are you going to turn to them and tell them to get a sense of humor?

  51. 51

    this movie looks hilarious!
    definately gonna watch it

  52. 52

    i didnt think he was this muscular

  53. 53

    whatever i mean there have been many more offensive movies then this.I will probebly go see it if i have time.

  54. 54

    watching it.

  55. MC21 says – reply to this


    Some people are always trying to find controversy in everything. Just enjoy the movie!!! That's what it's for! Get a life!

  56. 56

    nothing could stop me from seeing this movie!
    im so pumped for it, not even a crappy little boycott thats most likely not going to get alot of support.

    but thats just my opinon.
    i could really care less

  57. 57

    People are over reacting sooo much! The Ringer was more offensive than this sounds, and after reading the quote from Ben I think that its about time that actors get made fun of for this. They think if they play someone with disabilities, even in a respectful way, they will get an Oscar. Get a sense of humor. All comedies make fun of someone! Look at South Park or other movies like that!

  58. 58

    Oh yeah and im going to see it!

  59. 59

    I'm slightly retarded but I don't see why this movie is bad in any way? ppl call each other retards every day so what's the difference?

  60. 60

    I saw the screening of the movie and it was hilarious. They're making it seem as if the movie revolved around the character that Ben Stiller played. He is mentioned in the movie and Ben is asked to play the part at one point but there's still a lot more going on in the movie than that!! If you want to point out a movie that discriminated against handicaps then you should refer to The Ringer with Johnny Knoxville.

    Again, thought this movie was hilarious and I will admit that I'm a big Ben Stiller fan but in my opinion, Robert Downey Jr stole this one.

  61. 61

    are they serious. get over it. even though they aren't making fun of handicapped people your allowed to make fun of whoever you want.

  62. fiona says – reply to this


    PC police, you are needed at the Olympics…. We do not need your input.

    Funny movie, get over yourselves.

  63. 63

    Earn cash back on your purchases at over 600+ retail stores! Go to shoptoearn.net/klchadwick or shoptoearth.net/klchadwick No selling or inventory involved! Not a get rich quick scheme. Take a look for yourself at the huge retail partners!

  64. 64

    Hey you fools:
    Blackface isn't funny.
    Read your history books.
    Minstrelry sucks.
    Fuck this movie.
    Support your African American brothers & sisters today.
    Bush sucks too.
    End the war.
    That is all.

  65. 65

    Geezus! People are retarded. No pun intended.

  66. 66

    i'm boycotting because ben stiller is not funny and tom cruise is fucking OUT OF HIS MIND

  67. 67

    Can't wait to see it - looks hilarious!

  68. 68

    They are saying it's the one scene and centered around the "Simple Jack" movie. It's not. The Studio heads are working extensively with The Arc of Illinois and other groups. The Simple Jack site is gone. The t-shirt is gone.

    Wow. There are a lot big, brave people typing all this. When you see people picketing, go up to them and say "Fuck you, Retard." No really, I dare you. Take a video camera and post on YouTube. Do it.

    I hope you all have genetics and pure luck on your side. I hope when your babies are born, the cord doesn't wrap around their necks and cause oxygen deprivation. That might cause mental retardation. Hmm.

    If that were to happen, how would you react when your kid would get teased? When you were asked to leave the room with her when you're at a wedding reception, because they don't want to look at her when they're eating, would you regret saying, "Fuck you retard?" What about if she's raped on a bus, because the guy didn't think she was a woman, just "a fucking retard"?

  69. 69

    I'm fuckin' sick of all this PC bullshit.
    Not only to I plan to see the movie, but I hear the shit is totally funny.

    Lighten up people. Life is short.

  70. Jared says – reply to this


    I WASN'T going to watch it at first, now I'm going to watch just because of this reason. People really just need to calm down. Our society is so messed up and they're worried about this?

  71. 71

    NO I am not going to boycott this film, I actually can't wait to see it. Did people boycott Shallow Hal or Friends when fat suits were used and fat people were made fun of?
    People are just too sensitive these days and it's gotten ridiculous.

  72. 72

    i'll still watch it. it's satyrizing those who don't understand mental disabilities- not the disabled themselves

  73. 73

    The portrayal of the mentally disabled in this film will let ignorant people make senseless jokes and have a further misunderstanding of the emotional aspects these disabilities bring to families and the helplessness that these people face. In the eyes of someone who has had a relationship with a mentally disabled person for their entire life, it is not funny to see them put down more than they already are just with stares when they simply go to a restaurant with their family. I wouldn't be able to sit through this movie and see people laugh at the way the disabled are represented. Congratulations to the advocacy groups speaking up for the people who can not do it themselves because there are far too many people who remain ignorant in regards to these types of disabilities, from reading most of these comments posted here it is clear there are a lot of you.

  74. 74

    going to see the movie for sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  75. 75

    Re: dlj1021 – thank you. i wish people could understand what it is like to have a loved one with a mental disability. this movie breaks my heart, but not as much as the people commenting on this throwing the word retard around like they are hysterical. it's the same thing as saying the 'n-word', which robert downey jr. came across in his script for the movie and thought twice about it. it really bothers me that there are so few rights for people with disabilities.

  76. 76

    Love Ben Stiller, too, usually. This time the problem is in the promotion of the film. I've started hearing "full-on retard" as a phrase being used by people. As the mom of a little girl with Down syndrome, I find the phrase as ugly as the "N" word or names that have been used to put down Hispanic people or Jewish people. It's a hate word. It isn't funny. It isn't OK to put down other people as the butt of jokes in the workplace, so why is it OK in school or public to use "tard" or "retard" as a way of putting someone down? It just makes it OK to hate people. Laughing at people who have done nothing to hurt you and who cannot generally defend themselves is pretty sad. How is that funny? BTW folks, in The Ringer, the people with the challenges made the jokes not the "normal" characters. Special Olympics saw The Ringer and OK'd it because it didn't make people with challenges look stupid. It showed that they were just like everyone else in their feelings and sense of humour. This movie shows lame-ass actors trying to kiss up for Oscars and minimizing the people they portray to earn those Oscars. It's an interesting premise, but badly done. Stiller owes people with intellectual challenges an apology for the stupidity that will be copied by idiots everywhere.

  77. 77

    I'm definitely going to see it.

  78. 78

    im still watching it!

  79. 79

    Re: TruthTeller – No one seemed to really mind when The Wayans Brothers dressed up like white girls.

  80. 80

    This movie was meant to be over the top. It was meant to be controversial. The only people who should be taking offense to this movie are the big headed idiot actors whom take themselves way too seriously. You can just see from the preview that this movie is meant to satirize Hollywood and the obnoxious celebrities who inhabit it. It is in no way meant to offend anyone else. I have a brother who is severely autistic, yet I can look past these absurd accusations. I have been waiting for this movie all summer and nothing will keep me from seeing it.

  81. 81

    Re: khaaarm – Shut your bitch ass up. Hey…Ms. Sensitive. Are you volunteering to take learning challenged people to movies? To the park? To the hospital? Or do you post your sensitive comments on gossip forums to show everyone how pretentious and sensitive you are? Hypocrite. And, to answer your question, no. I wouldn't. Because I don't talk during movies. But I bet you do, you selfish cow.

  82. 82

    I saw it at the premiere in pendleton and it's quite funny. There are barely any references to the mentally disabled. Still is right, the role was more to make fun of the actors playing the mentally disabled, not the disabled themselves. People need to lighten up.

  83. 83

    lmao… that movie looks like it makes fun of EVERYBODY.. & at one point or another ALL groups of people get made fun of in a movie.

  84. 84

    I watched Tropic Thunder during an early screening, and I agree with Ben Stiller on this one. I can see how the material may seem offensive on surface level, however the true humor does stem from the fact that in reality, the humor stems from the actors desperate attempts to be considered a "serious" actor, rather than the material that they are portraying.

  85. DLA says – reply to this


    This is just another situation for people just to bitch about NOTHING. I love Stiller and plan on going. People take shit to seriously now a days… There is more important shit going on in this world ( 2008 Election) then to worry about a script from a movie.

  86. 86

    Re: khaaarm – Oh fuck me up the goatass. PUHLEEEEZE. As if you're the only one in the fucking world to have a family member who is learning challenged. Isn't that the right term? I thought we got away from "disability", because it demeaned them. No? Is there a new, more "empowered" label we should use? Especially since you're the paragon of knowledge on this subject.

  87. 87

    Re: catiesmom – Humor is ALWAYS done at the expense of someone, even if that someone is the joketeller. If everyone went around apologizing everytime they told a joke, particularly to themselves, we would reduce the world to the level of the absurd. What a sad, pathetic, over-sensitive world we are turning into.

  88. 88

    If I didn't have a child to feed and buy diapers for I would go see this movie for sure. But I'll just wait for it to come out and rent it like the good old days.

  89. 89

    oh, I WILL see this movie!

  90. 90

    I am fucking seeing this movie!
    "If you're offended by the word retarded, you probably aren't that retarded."

  91. 91

    This movie was meant to be over the top. The creators knew it would be controversial. Why else would the film recieve an R rating? This movie should not offend anyone, except maybe the big-headed actors in Hollywood who will do anything for an Oscar. Personally, I think the concept of the film is brilliant. We needed something to satirize how ridiculous Hollywood actors can be. I have an autistic brother, yet I am not offended by this film. Many people are taking the movie the wrong way even though they have not even seen the film! Personally, I think that us Americans get offended a bit too easily. (that doesn't mean I don't love my country!) I have waited all summer for this movie and nothing will keep me from seeing it.

  92. 92

    Are we not allowed to laugh anymore? Seriously.
    I plan on seeing this movie and loving every minute of it. People should stop spending their time boycotting or protesting a comedy when there are so many issues worthy of fighting for.

  93. 93

    It actually looked really funny, i still want to see it.
    "I'm a dude playing a dude diguised as another dude" :)

  94. 94

    What about Something About Mary's retarded brother… no one cared about the script in that movie, and they call him a RETARD in it! Or the RINGER!!??
    Get a grip, people!!!

  95. 95

    Hell no!! This movie looks SOoooooooo LAME!! But since there is a boycott now, Im sure it will be a big hit !! LOL , This movie is soo cable t.v

  96. 96

    Who are thes fucktards and why don't they just not see the film?

  97. 97

    Re: poopstain

    Excellent post!

    This is another reason why the Obama supporters who heckled Bernie Mac in Chicago several weeks ago at a fundraiser, should go fuck themselves with the nearest donkey.

  98. 98

    So are the only two choices either seeing the movie OR boycotting?
    In that case, I would like to go off the board and say you couldn't pay me to see it in the first place.
    Ben Stiller? Please.

    And WHEN are these "advocacy groups" gonna learn "protest = promotion". If they would just shut the pie-hole, no one would pay any attention in the first place. But now that they've drawn attention to it…..

  99. 99

    Ben stiller shouldn't be allowed to make movies anymore. He's not funny. but people really do need to lighten up.

  100. 100

    i saw the movie tonight at an advanced screening for my radio station. i didn't think it was offensive. i think people look for any reason these days to bitch. would these groups boycott a movie about racism? or a movie that makes comments about gay love? no, they're not out to be politically correct, they're just taking it personal. i mean everyone might take offense to something but we all get teased.

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