Robert Downey Jr. will always be his RDJ self, no matter what the situation is. Even when it comes to criticism, Downey Jr. doesn’t deter from his stand. Apart from his Iron Man and Oppenheimer fame, the actor is also known for his controversial role in ‘Tropic Thunder’. Downey Jr still stands by his decision, despite backlash accusing him of donning Blackface.
Speaking at Rob Lowe’s Literally! podcast, Downey Jr. said that “things have become a little muddied.” RDJ has never been popularly lauded for his performance as the self-obsessed Rob Kirk. He plays an actor who undergoes pigmentation alteration to play a role in a film. And given the current society’s increased awareness of racism today, this character is only known for mocking the African American Community.
Downey Jr., however, justifies the character with the theme of the movie. He says that ‘Tropic Thunder’ was made specifically to show the futility of these practices, and not the other way round. Downey Jr. drew a parallel between this and the 70s sitcom ‘All in the Family.’ He talks about the show’s disclaimer, and that it was “an antidote to the clickbait addiction to grievance” that everyone finds themselves in.
This is what the disclaimer says:
“The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter, we hope to show – in a mature fashion – just how absurd they are.”
The messaging is what Downey Jr. stands by, claiming that Tropic Thunder is exactly about what people shouldn’t do. He also justified director Ben Stiller’s intent behind making the film, and how it stood “against all the tropes that are not right.”
Social media, despite being a powerful tool for awareness and action, often makes mountains out of molehills. Downey Jr. says that the “understanding” with viewers has changed. His character is the exact opposite of what blackface is meant for. This is the crux that is missed by those who criticize him for the role. Because of this negative majority opinion, not many know that Downey Jr. has an Oscar nomination for the same role.
People like to dig up things and create conversation about it for no reason. To those Downey Jr. has offended, need to take another look at the film. Ever since allegations of blackface were thrown at the actor, he has consistently stood by his character. He is an actor with a force to be reckoned with, and 2023 is easily his most successful year as one. The award nominations speak of his sheer talent, with Downey Jr. already picking up a Golden Globe for his Oppenheimer performance. He is also in the running for a Screen Actor’s Guild Award, and hopefully, his first Oscar.