Ben Stiller stands by snowboarder Shaun White over 'Tropic Thunder' Halloween costume row

Olympian Shaun White (Credit: Instagram)
Olympian Shaun White (Credit: Instagram)

Ben Stiller has tweeted in support of snowboarder Shaun White, who was forced to apologise for dressing up as Simple Jack from the movie Tropic Thunder for a Halloween party.

US-based organisation the Special Olympics criticised White for the move, saying that they were ‘disappointed’ that ‘an acclaimed Olympian would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain’.

In the 2008 movie, Stiller played actor Tugg Speedman, who purposely takes on the role of a mentally disabled man, the farm hand Simple Jack, in a cynical bid to get an Oscar.

Ben Stiller as Simple Jack (Credit: DreamWorks)
Ben Stiller as Simple Jack (Credit: DreamWorks)

White said in a statement: “I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology… it was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one. The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it.

“They do great work supporting so many tremendous athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned.”

But Stiller has said that he stands by White.

“Actually Tropic Thunder was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then,” Stiller wrote in a post on Twitter.

“It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards. I stand by my apology, the movie, Shaun White, And the great people and work of the @SpecialOlympics.”

At the time the movie came out, both the Special Olympics and disability organisation Arc of the United States, urged movie-goers not to see the film, and objected to its repeated use of the word ‘retard’.

The film’s writer Etan Cohen said at the time: “Some people have taken this as making fun of handicapped people, but we’re really trying to make fun of the actors who use this material as fodder for acclaim.”

After the picture of White emerged, a spokesperson for the Special Olympics said: “Disability is not a joke nor should it be a punchline.

“We hope that Shaun White and others learn that this just continues stigma, stereotypes and discrimination.”

Tropic Thunder also courted controversy over Stiller’s co-star, Robert Downey Jr, who donned prosthetic make-up to play an actor taking on the role of an African-American soldier.

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