Some People Still Definitely Don't Get The Joke Behind Robert Downey Jr.'s Tropic Thunder Character

Tropic Thunder Robert Downey Jr. in blackface

No movie is too old or too young to go viral, so long as the internet has a reason for resurrecting its image. The world is seeing this happen right now with tweets surrounding Robert Downey Jr’s performance as Kirk Lazarus in the 2008 film Tropic Thunder managing to put the film’s name into the world of trending topics. It seems to be because of the fact that some people who got wind of this particular role didn’t get the joke behind the character.

One of the top posts on Twitter today is the following collage of hot takes surrounding Tropic Thunder:

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Three separate tweets from younger skewing users have called out Robert Downey Jr. for allegedly “getting a pass” in playing the character who was “a dude, playing a dude, disguised as another dude.” This isn’t the only controversy that Tropic Thunder has faced, as in the film’s initial run, the “Simple Jack” plot point had disability advocates making similar claims when it came to writer/director/co-star Ben Stiller’s character, Tugg Speedman, playing a mentally disabled character.

Both of these hot spots of controversy fall under the same umbrella defense that has been issued by filmmaker and fan alike when it comes to this delayed cultural litigation of Tropic Thunder’s intent with those characters. It’s something that even Robert Downey Jr. found himself addressing earlier this year, as he broke down exactly why he felt Kirk Lazarus’ pigmentation surgery storyline wasn’t as controversial as some said it was.

But just as it brought up the issue, Twitter has indeed offered some defensive insight into why it wasn’t that big of a deal. What’s even more interesting is the fact that one of the users being highlighted for criticizing Tropic Thunder’s allegedly insensitive behavior actually issued a revised statement, reversing their opinion after seeing the film:

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And then, there are other users who, while defending the film’s content, have also called it out in equal measure:

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The response echoes a comment another person made about how a lot of people commenting on the issue have probably never seen the film in question.

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The issue of whether Tropic Thunder is offensive or not has cropped up in the past. While the artistic intent has been explained time and time again by those related to the movie, there will still be audience members who decide to accept or reject such a viewpoint based on their own personal views.

That’s just the subjective nature of art, and it’s in place with 99% of the movies, television or any other form of art that people choose to enjoy. So long as these discussions can be had with ears and minds open to their fullest extent, the debate surrounding Tropic Thunder and other films of its ilk will be a constructive and rewarding experience.

Tropic Thunder is available for rental or purchase on Digital HD, Blu-ray, and DVD. Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr.’s latest film, Dolittle, is currently available in those formats as well, in addition to 4K UHD.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.