Robert Downey Jr. has had one hell of a career. Getting started back in 1985 as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, he’s now grown into a cultural phenomenon and played a bevy of memorable characters across various film series. He’s perhaps most well-known for his role as the lovable billionaire Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) in the MCU. But now, over a decade after its release, one spectacular part has come back to haunt him.
A recent uprising on Twitter and other social media platforms has seen a very vocal group of people trying to ‘cancel’ Downey Jr. due to his use of blackface in the 2008 action-comedy Tropic Thunder. The film is actually about making a movie, and RDJ plays an intense method actor named Kirk Lazarus, who has an extremely controversial alteration to his pigmentation so that he can appear black to play the character Staff Sergeant Lincoln Osiris. Along with the changes to his pigment, Lazarus adopts an African American vernacular and acts like an exaggerated stereotype of a black man.
Thankfully, many people have since stood up for Downey Jr. and come to his defense, as seen below:
So teenagers are mad at Robert Downey Jr, for doing black face in Tropic Thunder, but not Ben Stealer for playing a retard?? Lol
— monti (@soulmonti) May 1, 2020
People butthurt that Robert Downey Jr did blackface in Tropic Thunder really missed the whole point of that joke lol
— Shane (@Amish_Menace) May 1, 2020
After seeing people get offended over Robert Downey Jr using blackface in tropic thunder I'm done with Twitter for a bit.
— Beefy Keithy ? (@Schug_Keith) May 1, 2020
These fake woke people are gonna lose their minds when they realize Robert Downey Jr. got nominated for an Oscar for his role in Tropic Thunder pic.twitter.com/BuxD2Px6Da
— Tony (@tonyda_lion) May 1, 2020
Are y'all really mad at Robert Downey Jr for tropic thunder? ? Can I ask why?
— Joel (@JAYENNO) May 1, 2020
@KXnOMorningRush @TravisCreates @Sean23Roberts can you believe there are people now just discovering Tropic Thunder and trying to cancel Robert Downey Jr for his best movie role ever? Ridiculous! Now I'm going to watch Tropic Thunder this weekend in support of a great movie! https://t.co/c7JUWDF7d0
— Ben (@515CyVikes) May 1, 2020
Before y'all complain about Robert Downey Jr's role in tropic thunder, please watch or look up what the movie was about first. Don't just criticize without knowing anything about why something was done
— Joe Portelli (@joep1015) May 1, 2020
Bro Tropic Thunder was made in 2008 why are people just now asking for an apology from Robert Downey Jr. Grow the fuck up and stop being so sensitive to that shit it was 12 years ago.
— ?✨? (@whatflavorss) May 1, 2020
if you aint seen tropic thunder stfu about Robert Downey Jr's role in it, you don't get it ??
— iløøkbetterbymyself (@KlaudioRojas1) May 1, 2020
I swear if Robert Downey Jr. gets in trouble for tropic thunder I’m going to snap
— Jake “Life is a Waste of Time” Smit (@JakeASmit) May 1, 2020
woke twitter getting mad about robert downey jr.’s character in tropic thunder clearly didn’t watch the movie
it’s only the white people complaining
— michael (@michaelimabean) May 1, 2020
What those expressing discontent don’t seem to understand is that the controversy is stemming from a misunderstanding of the material. Tropic Thunder, written by Ben Stiller, Etan Cohen and Justin Theroux, was created largely as a satire of modern filmmaking and acting. Most of the film’s characters are designed to be just as exaggerated and stereotypical as Downey Jr.’s Kirk, acting as a showcase of self-importance and narcissism within the industry. Lazarus, in particular, was an aggressive parody of immensely pretentious method actors who believe themselves worthy of transcending ethics and decency in pursuit of art.
Of course, Robert Downey Jr. has defended his role as Kirk Lazarus multiple times already, but those who don’t understand the satire behind Tropic Thunder may continue to wage war against him for years to come. Such manufactured controversy is a shame to see, especially when a film goes so far above and beyond to make the opposite point and take a stand against the very thing people are finding offensive about it. But hey, that’s the internet in 2020 for you.