The Internet Wants To Cancel Robert Downey Jr. Over His Tropic Thunder Role

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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:

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.

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