Why RDJ's Blackface Wasn't Controversial

Robert Downy Jr.’s Tropic Thunder function again in 2008 noticed him using blackface, but surprisingly this did not acquire a critical backlash or set off any exact controversy. Tropic Thunder is the film contained in the film that goes very improper. Director Ben Stiller performs Tugg Speedman, a Jean-Claude-Van-Damme-esque character who was typecast as an movement hero and is struggling to transition into extra dramatic roles. His hopes at a profession revival relaxation on the shoulders of Tropic Thunder, a battle film whereby Tugg is having fun with the lead function.


Robert Downey Jr.’s character is Kirk Lazarus, a 5-time Oscar-worthwhile Australian methodology actor who’s forged as African-American workers Sargent Lincoln Osiris. Kirk undergoes a controversial “pigmentation alteration” course of to darken his pores and skin and, being methodology, he is inside the behavior of by no means breaking character till after he is carried out DVD commentary. whereas this would possibly have led to a unfavorable response to Tropic Thunder (the exact film), given how blackface is usually associated to mocking Black people, that did not happen on this event. Robert Downey Jr. was even nominated for an Oscar for the function and has continued to defend it since, and the dearth of controversy is as a consequence of this of film’s satirical method.

associated: every Upcoming Robert Downey Jr. film

The brilliance of Tropic Thunder is that nothing is sacred. The film mocks every part “improper” with Hollywood: product placement, drug use and behavior, problematic productions, megalomaniacal producers which might be extra pondering about making a residing than telling tales, and the ludicrousness of Hollywood using critical matters as money-making fodder. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tropic Thunder blackface is not any completely different, as a consequence of it is proven as a aspect of the identical ridiculousness of Hollywood, nor does it go unaddressed inside the story. Alongside Ben Stiller and Downey Jr. is Brandon T. Jackson inside the function of Alpa Chino, a rapper attempting to interrupt into appearing. He does not let Kirk off the hook, and even claims that he is making the film to current some “exact illustration.”

How RDJ’S Blackface Managed To Not Be Controversial

as properly as, Kirk’s methodology appearing finally ends up having fun with a pivotal function in Tropic Thunder‘s film climax. After Tugg is kidnapped by the heroin-producing Flaming Dragon gang and tortured and compelled to carry out his problematic film simple Jack every evening time, Tugg has a disaster of identification that Kirk acknowledges, having expert it himself. In an try to assist Tugg as himself barely than as his character, Kirk lastly sheds his masks. it is a hilarious and barely succinct various to additionally mock the typically inexplicable issues methodology actors do, and viewers can not assist however giggle at how off-placing it turns into to hearken to an Australian accent come out of Robert Downey Jr.’s face.

If Tropic Thunder does one factor properly, it makes audiences giggle, however its completely different objective was to current some social commentary on the darkish underbelly of Hollywood. By leaning into how ridiculous it is, and making the topic of the joke white actors and Hollywood as a whole barely than Black people, the Robert Downey Jr. Tropic Thunder blackface was ready to hold away from inflicting any exact controversy. Tropic Thunder was forward of its time right here, since phrases like “whitewashing” solely reached prominence inside the final decade, although the observe has been round as a consequence of the earliest days of Hollywood and continues to be controversial.

How Jamie Foxx launched again The RDJ Blackface dialogue In 2022

To some, Robert Downey Jr.’s flip as a method actor prepared to don blackface for a film was not solely acceptable however an outright hit. Jamie Foxx reached out to RDJ after Tropic Thunder about having fun with a Mexican man in his directorial undertaking, All-Star Weekend. based mostly on Foxx,

“I referred to as Robert, I acknowledged, ‘i would like you to play a Mexican,’” Foxx recalled. “I acknowledged, ‘Shit, you performed the Black dude [in ‘Tropic Thunder’] and also you killed that shit.’ We obtained to have the power to do characters.” (by way of IndieWire)

very associated to Tropic Thunder, the objective of All-Star Weekend was to generate outrageous comedy that will additionally poke nice at Hollywood’s and society’s norms. nonetheless, as a consequence of of this of ongoing prevalence of cancel tradition and heightened sensitivity, Foxx has opted to protect the undertaking shelved for now till “people return to laughing as quickly as extra.” the outcomes of Robert Downey Jr.’s casting as a Mexican man is up inside the air, then, however his shockingly non-controversial half in Tropic Thunder stays a topic of debate to this present day.