Ben Stiller stands by Shaun White in the wake of White's Halloween costume that some are calling insensitive.
The Olympic snowboarder dressed up as Simple Jack, an intellectually disabled character Stiller portrayed in the 2008 movie Tropic Thunder. White has since apologized to the Special Olympics, which issued a statement regarding their "disappointment" in the 32-year-old, and has also deleted his Instagram photo of the costume.
In response to a Twitter user who joked that Tropic Thunder should be boycotted because of White's actions, Stiller wrote that he stands by the movie and by White.
Actually Tropic Thunder was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then. It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards. I stand by my apology, the movie, Shaun White, And the great people and work of the @SpecialOlympics. //t.co/RqID5jIXP1— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) October 30, 2018
"Actually Tropic Thunder was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then," he wrote. "It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards. I stand by my apology, the movie, Shaun White, And the great people and work of the @SpecialOlympics."
In a statement to The Huffington Post on Monday, the Special Olympics called out White. "We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain," Soren Palumbo, the co-founder of the organization's "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign. "Disability is not a joke nor should it be a punchline. We hope that Shaun White and others learn that this just continues stigma, stereotypes and discrimination."
Following that statement, White apologized, posting his own statement on social media.
"I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume the other night. It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one," the three-time gold medalist wrote. "The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it. They do great work supporting so many tremendous athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned."
The Special Olympics' official Twitter account thanked him for the apology. "Thank you @shaunwhite for listening to our community. You always have an invitation to shred with our athletes at #XGames Aspen!" the account wrote.
When Tropic Thunder premiered in 2008, it ignited a fierce debate over its Simple Jack character, who was intended to be a satiric portrayal of the way Hollywood uses stories of disabled people to attract awards buzz. But the satire wasn't received well by everyone, especially because the film frequently referred to Stiller's character as the "r word."
"When I heard about it, I felt really hurt inside," the Special Olympics' global messenger Dustin Plunkett said in 2008, according to CBS News. "I cannot believe a writer could write something like that. It's not the way that we want to be portrayed. We have feelings. We don't like the word 'retard.' We are people. We're just like any other people out there. We want to be ourselves and not be discriminated against."
Robert Downey Jr. was among those who defended the movie's usage of free speech. "I think it's open to interpretation and that's the great thing," he said at the movie's premiere. "You know, if I want to protest something because it offends me that's my right as an American, and it's also any artist's right to say and do whatever they wanna do."0comments
DreamWorks also defended the film at the time. “Tropic Thunder is an R-rated comedy that satirizes Hollywood and its excesses, and makes its point by featuring inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations. The film is in no way meant to disparage or harm the image of individuals with disabilities,” said Chip Sullivan, a spokesperson for DreamWorks, Reuters reported.
What do you think of the controversy reignited after 10 years? Share your thoughts in the comments below.