Hollywood actor and comedian Ben Stiller went out of his way this week to defy cancel culture.
Someone made the false charge that he had apologized for making “Tropic Thunder,” a hilarious film he co-wrote, directed and starred in alongside a cast of megastars.
Stiller, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Cruise, Nick Nolte, Jack Black and others put on a show for 107 minutes that is pure entertainment.
The flick dropped 15 years ago but is funnier than ever. It is a satire of the shallow ways of Hollywood that likely could never be made today.
Downey appears in the R-rated film as an Australian method actor who is starring in another film about the Vietnam War. He appears in almost every scene in blackface as the fictional Staff Sgt. Lincoln Osiris.
The job called for him to play multiple roles at once. In one memorable quote from the film, the star has to remind himself and others of his artistic undertaking. He declares, “I’m a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude.”
In reality, Downey had to play all the dudes, so he was actually a dude playing a dude playing a dude — disguised as another dude. He nailed the role(s) and critics and audiences loved it.
Downey also at one point explains to Stiller’s character in the film that he had made a career mistake by going “full retard” to play a low-IQ character on another project.
The film’s faux-Hollywood star characters are so self-obsessed they are unaware later in the movie that they are fighting against real armed militants with weapons loaded with blanks. It’s pure gold.
“Tropic Thunder” has courted controversy since its release, and there was a time when Stiller did try to explain its narratives and themes to actual simpletons.
But the cast of the film has been more or less united for 15 years in being unapologetic about making such a funny movie.
On Tuesday, Stiller commented on a post that had accused him of regretting his brilliant creation.
“I make no apologies for Tropic Thunder,” he said. “Don’t know who told you that. It’s always been a controversial movie since when we opened. Proud of it and the work everyone did on it.”
I make no apologies for Tropic Thunder. Don’t know who told you that. It’s always been a controversial movie since when we opened. Proud of it and the work everyone did on it.
— Ben Stiller (@BenStiller) February 21, 2023
Stiller did not need to respond to this false claim. The 57-year-old didn’t have to say anything and the tweet he responded to would have been forgotten.
There is arguably little upside to ever commenting on such a post in this day and age. But instead of remaining silent, he decided to open himself up to criticism. The question is why.
The only rational explanation for Stiller’s tweet is that he made a conscious decision to stand up to cancel culture.
For that, he deserves praise from everyone who supports free expression.