After disability advocate groups raised issues with Tropic Thunder’s repeated use of the word “retard” and other offensive terms to describe a role played by Ben Stiller’s character in the movie, DreamWorks has agreed to meet with them. It’s almost certainly too late to change the actual film, which comes out a week from tomorrow, but Vulture reports that the first casualty appears to be the promotional website for Simple Jack, one of the fake movies-within-the-movie in which Ben Stiller plays a mentally handicapped adult, and which has the unfortunate tagline “Once upon a time…there was a retard.”
The only thing more confounding than the total predictability of this news is the fact that the Tropic Thunder red band trailer, which was released in mid-May, contains more than enough clues to the potential offensiveness of the Simple Jack subplot. If advocate groups had acted then, maybe there would have been time to change the actual movie and not just remove a website. Which raises an insane question: is it possible that Tropic Thunder’s over 30 million dollar overhyping campaign failed to reach everyone in America?