Merie Weismiller Wallac/Dreamworks
Ben Stiller doesn't think it's necessary for anyone to boycott Tropic Thunder. And not just because he directed it.
"It's sort of edgy territory, but we felt that as long as the focus was on the actors who were trying to do something to be taken seriously that's going too far or wrong, that was where the humor would come from," the actor told MTV News Monday in response to a call to protest from a coalition of advocacy groups who are offended by the comedy's jokes about how playing an impaired person—i.e. Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man—is a surefire route to Oscar glory.
"[The joke is on] actors reaching for roles in terms of hopefully winning awards,"Stiller said.
Added Tropic Thunder cowriter Etan Cohen: "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. The last thing you want is for people to think you're making fun of the victims in this who are having their lives turned into fodder for people to win Oscars."
Despite the backlash, DreamWorks has already said that the film, which also stars Robert Downey Jr. (in black face while playing an arrogant method actor who thinks he really understands the "black experience," so you'd think that would be the cause of the big misunderstanding) and Jack Black, will open as is Aug. 13.
"The film is in no way meant to disparage or harm the image of individuals with disabilities," studio spokeswoman Chip Sullivan wrote in a statement.
"We have had productive discussions with representatives of disability-advocacy organizations and look forward to working with them closely in the future. However, no changes or cuts to the film will be made."