There’s an ad out today featuring Donald Trump and Robert Downey Jr., and it’s got nothing to do with politics and everything to do with respect.
You might be familiar with Tropic Thunder, the 2008 comedy starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr; Stiller co-wrote the screenplay, too. It follows a group of actors making a movie about the Vietnam War. In it, the character Kirk (played by Downey Jr.) gives Chuck (Stiller) advice about a film he was in, Simple Jack, which centers around a character with intellectual disability (ID). Chuck usually plays action heroes, but decided to stretch his range and portray a man with ID in hopes it would be award-winning material. The movie was a flop; as Kirk explains it, he overdid the acting.
The scene sparked, you guessed it, the catchphrase “Never go full retard” and a meme that won’t die. There are any number of t-shirts you can get emblazoned with the phrase.
Hollywood, comedians and a whole lot of people on Twitter thinks the word “retard” is funny. It crops up in movies on occasion—Napoleon Dynamite, The Change-Up, The Descendants. The people cringing in the movie theater, the people who speak out, include those who have loved ones with ID, disability advocates and the Special Olympics, which started the Spread the Word to End The Word campaign.
Stiller’s never apologized. He defended the Tropic Thunder scene by saying that disability groups that called for a boycott of the…
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