Posted tagged ‘black face’

Wednesday’s Weather Forecast: Tropic Thunder

August 10, 2008

Ben Stiller is up to his old tricks again with his new film, Tropic Thunder, which comes out this Wednesday, August 13, is about to hit theaters across the country. The comedy, also starring Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr., is about a group of actors who set out to make the biggest war film ever get involved in an actual war that’s being fought near their filming location.

Tropic Thunder is an homage to Hollywood war epics from “Platoon” and “Apocalypse Now” to “Saving Private Ryan” and “Rambo.” What will most certainly be the most talked about part of the film will be Downey Jr’s portrayal of Kirk Lazarus, in blackface.

Check out what The Oregonian has to say:

The comedy has garnered a lot of buzz in the last year because Robert Downey Jr. appears in it as an Australian actor so committed to his craft that he undergoes a procedure to have his skin turned brown to play an African American soldier.

Now, that is a lot to ask an audience to swallow in 2008, with an African American presidential candidate and older media stars getting fired and suspended for various racially insensitive faux pas. Blackface is a complicated bit of ancient Americana, and most folks are happy it’s gone the way of other dastardly forms of “entertainment.” So, it would seem to be a third rail of film comedy.

The thought behind this is that the award-winning Lazarus has actually undergone surgery to “be black” in an effort to pull off a more convincing portrayal of what is supposedly a character who existed in real life. To be sure that the film would not be considered too offensive, Stiller showed it to the NAACP for feedback, and several African American film journalists have reacted positively to Downey’s hilarious portrayal.

I’m sure that as always, Stiller will turn in a masterpiece and Tropic Thunder will be a box office success. Thoughts?