Recently Robert Downey Jr. popped into the podcast cave. He was joined by Joe Rogan and the conversation dived into some muddled waters. Some main topics of discussion were Eddie Murphy and his choice to take a 30 year break from comedy after being on top for so long, as well as the inspirational marvel superhero Ironman and how that role revived Downey's at the time failing career. Unexpectedly "Tropic Thunder" was brought into the atmosphere of conversation and Rogan's questioning over whether the role could ever be done again, and if Downey was proud of what he did with it incited a fireball of controversy.
The History of 'Blackface'
For other countries, it can be hard to grasp the history associated with blackface. Due to colonialism and the after-effects of slavery along with the jim crow era, The United States still has fresh wounds concerning race and painful stereotypes. In years not too long passed when the film was just coming into fruition black people were not allowed to be depicted on film in real ways. White actors would often put on black makeup with painted on exaggerated lips and a foul overtly racist accent to birth an image of how they decided everyone else should view African Americans. Just by creating these heinous visual images the goal to monopolize a caricature of black people as a whole was achieved and seeped into social norms. So, when others question the validity of the anger behind shutting down blackface they must be formally educated on how dangerous these images really are.
Was Robert Downey Jr. Flipping The Script
If you take time to watch the film thoroughly and use the power of understanding, maybe Downey was onto something. In "Tropic Thunder" his portrayal was utterly ridiculous and hyperbolized. This man was meant to be so foolish that as the audience it could recognized that no actual person of color could represent this. Intelligently turning this stereotype on it's head and allowing the viewer a moment to think about the fact that there is not one black person who encapsulates this caricature. Basically finding a way to transform something so brutal like blackface that in years past was used to hurt and undervalue people of color in turn drawing a red line between actuality, and distressing imagery.
Should It Ever Be Done Again?
Now as for the question of whether blackface should be done again in an official studio driven film. The consensus seems to be no and rightfully so. Socially the effects of seeing something like this paraded so proudly and nonchalantly cannot be good. In terms of"Tropic Thunder" the thought behind it can be swallowed but still the doing of it holds a sore spot. For some things, it just seems like they should be left alone to perish with the unpleasant history they represent no matter how compelling the results could be.