The debate surrounding the return of blackface has been raging for a while here at the Guardian. Far be it for me to stoke the fires of controversy further, but I wonder quite what the reaction is going to be to Robert Downey Jr's performance in Tropic Thunder, the new Ben Stiller comedy that hits cinemas here on September 19.
Downey Jr plays the Australian actor Kirk Lazarus (with vintage Natural Born Killers accent), who in turn plays the African American Sgt Osiris, one of a group of actors who unwittingly end up in a real battle whilst trying to shoot a war movie in Vietnam. The idea is that the award-winning Lazarus has actually undergone surgery to "be black" in an effort to pull off a more convincing portrayal of what is supposedly a character who existed in real life.
''If it's done right, it could be the type of role you called Peter Sellers to do 35 years ago. If you don't do it right, we're going to hell," Downey was recently quoted as saying, which sort of makes us wonder if he has actually seen The Party. In any case, take a look at the YouTube clip above, in which Downey Jr berates his fellow actor, Ben Stiller's Tugg Speedman, for his critically-derided performance as a farm hand with learning difficulties in Simple Jack, and let us know what you think.
Shocking your audience with something controversial is a time-honoured way to get them to laugh (I wonder if the late great Bill Hicks would get away with his Goatboy routine in these paedophile-obsessed times), and Downey Jr's ridiculous situation makes for some genuinely funny moments in the film. Does that justify it?
Source: The Guardian
RDJ makes a sexy black man, no lie.