Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tropic Thunder

Yesterday, Ron and I went to see Tropic Thunder. It's not for the faint-hearted. The Washington Post had a long op-ed, (Patricia Bauer) about the offensive use of the word "retard" in the movie. For the record, Ron and I knew before we went to the move that the movie was offensive to just about every group out there. The movie is over the top, and hilarious often at the expense of marginalized groups including African Americans, the cognitively impaired, and gay people.

The movie is parody. It's a parody of action movies, of the Hollywood "system," and of celebrity fame. Bauer points out that the other humor often had a foil that showed up the bad behavior of the movie character, but that the "Simple Jack" character had no such foil. That's a valid point. And the epithet, "Retard," very often hurts a person who cannot effectively defend him- or herself from the bullying.

On the flip side, the movie is rated R, so when a person attends this film, the moviegoer is presumed to be at least 17 or accompanied by an adult. The moviegoer also expects to experience themes that are inappropriate for children and younger teenagers. Humor is almost always at the expense of someone or some group. Parody is always over the top. Yes, some of the laughs are cruel in Tropic Thunder. Maybe that's a price we pay, sometimes, for art.