Robert Downey Jr. defends Tropic Thunder from people who don’t understand it

Robert Downey Jr. is again defending Tropic Thunder, even comparing its controversy to that of All in the Family.

You never go full blackface. That is, unless you understand the joke. But for some – chiefly those who couldn’t pick up on the satire – Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder was too easy of a target: here was a white actor (playing a white actor) playing a Black character. But RDJ, as he should but shouldn’t have to, continues to defend Tropic Thunder.

To make his latest point, Downey Jr. noted on Rob Lowe’s podcast (via Variety) how All in the Family, the Norman Lear show that exposed bigotry in American culture via comedy, actually ran with a disclaimer saying just that. Like Tropic Thunder nearly three decades after All in the Family went off the air, it put a light on a number of common portrayals.

Regarding the disclaimer, Downey Jr. said, “The language was saying, ‘Hey, this is the reason that we’re doing these things that, in a vacuum, you could pick apart and say are wrong and bad’…There used to be an understanding with an audience, and I’m not saying that the audience is no longer understanding — I’m saying that things have gotten very muddied. The spirit that [Ben] Stiller directed and cast and shot Tropic Thunder in was, essentially, as a railing against all of these tropes that are not right and [that] had been perpetuated for too long.” Stiller has also refused to apologize for the movie.

Of course, over time we have learned that one of the dangers of comedy is that sometimes the audience just doesn’t understand the comedy. As such, the movie or the performance may be deemed offensive since said audience isn’t hip to what the filmmakers and actors set out to accomplish. Unfortunately, there are also those who choose to ignore the good intentions and intellect of all involved, and plow ahead with their (often ignorant) complaints anyway. While it would be nice to think that audiences could understand commentary without a disclaimer, Downey has a point when he says, “It is an antidote to this clickbait addiction to grievance that [people seem] to have with everything these days.”

Downey Jr. definitely keeps Tropic Thunder close to his chest. Not only has he continued to defend it, but he has even hinted he would be down for a sequel. Now, what sort of Kirk Lazarus performance will go over people’s heads next?

Why do you think people still get up in arms about Tropic Thunder? Do they ever have a legitimate cause? Give us your take on the matter below.

Originally published at