Admid the line-up of A-list stars at Monday night’s premiere of Tropic Thunder, dozens of people from orginizations such as the Special Olympics and the American Association of People with Disabilities protested the film from across the street.
Chanting things like "Ban the movie, ban the word," the groups were outraged over the film’s portrayal of people with mental disabilities.
”I think it’s open to interpretation and that’s the great thing,” Robert Downey Jr., who stars in the film, told the AP at Monday night’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.”
In the movie, Ben Stiller plays a fame-hungry actor cast in a war movie who previously had a role as a mentally disabled character called Simple Jack.
”When I heard about it, I felt really hurt inside,” said Special Olympics global messenger Dustin Plunkett. ”I cannot believe a writer could write something like that. It’s the not the way that we want to be portrayed. We have feelings. We don’t like the word ‘retard.’ We are people.”
Following some of the original complaints from advocacy groups, Dreamworks has pulled some of its promotional material including a Web site that promoted the film-within-a-film starring Stiller’s character which contained the tag line ”Once there was a retard.”
”If you want to pick on people, as the old playground saying goes, pick on people your own size,” said Timothy Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, who is calling for a boycott of ”Tropic Thunder” along with the other groups. ”This population struggles too much with the basics to have to struggle against Hollywood. We’re sending a message that this hate speech is no longer acceptable.”