Comedians like to push and push and push until that very fine line of what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable is somewhat squeezed to its very limit. That, to me at least, is what the very best comedy can do. Regardless of the situation that we find ourselves in today when it comes to what can and cannot be said, which is primarily being lead by 'activists' on social media, we need to be grateful that a movie such as Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder" exists in this maddening stratosphere.
Every once in a while I try to remind people that a comedy like 'Tropic Thunder' would just not be able to get made today. Not in this heavily politicized world. And do go ahead and disagree with me on that, because just last week Shaun White dressed up as Stiller's Simple Jack character for Halloween and caused total uproar, to the point where White had to issue an apology to the Special Olympics. This is real. This is the world we live in. Comedy is in dire straits at the moment. And Ben Stiller seems to agree. Guesting on Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show, the 52-year-old comedian told the radio host that "Tropic Thunder" "probably couldn't have been made today."
This film is a landmine for triggered outrage waiting to happen. If this movie came out today, and bless Paramount for having had the chutzpah to release it just 10 years ago, most would completely miss its point. For example, Robert Downey Jr's character in the film, Kirk Lazarus, doing blackface is satire on method actors. It wasn't just played for laughs. It had a purpose. Sadly, these days, intent doesn't matter as much as perception. There isn't a firm line on what's funny and what's in poor taste anymore, but EVERYONE loves to point out when they they think that line has been crossed. Tropic Thunder would have Twitter and culture publications up in arms. The universally positive reviews turned into abhorrently negative ones.