Tropic Thunder Satire

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Tropic Thunder: the Risks and Rewards of Satire Ben Stiller wrote, directed, and starred in the 2008 summer comedy Tropic Thunder. In the film, actors enter the jungle of Vietnam under the guise they are filming a war movie (Tropic Thunder), but hilarity ensues when the situation turns from staged to reality. Stiller satirizes the filmmaking industry for its pompous, conceited, and hypocritical nature. Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine called it: “A parody of war movies and a pinprick in the helium balloon of Hollywood egos,” and his review was echoed by an 83% positive review on Rotten Tomatoes (Corliss). Nevertheless, one of Tropic Thunder’s satirical assaults centers on actors who manipulate the intellectually disabled (ID) to achieve personal glory. In so doing, disability groups criticized the manner in which Stiller portrayed Tugg Speedman - an actor playing the role of “Simple Jack”, a mentally challenged character - as insensitive and mocking. Although Ben Stiller and the producers…show more content…
When disability rights groups began to protest the movie for its use of the “r-word” (“retard”), Ben Stiller argued “In the context of the film it’s really clear where we’re coming from” and co-writer Justin Theroux maintained “I don’t think we make the joke that they’re accusing us of making” (Reuters). The producers are confident that their encoding, when taken in context, will produce one satirical decoding. Matthew Mcconaughey, who makes an appearance in the film, responded to the controversy on social media: "If you see it, I think you'll agree that all the touchy humour is in context, and in no way mean spirited or irresponsible." (“McConaughey”). Almost all of the producers of the text stand by the dominant meaning of the “Simple Jack” scenes as a joke on the film

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