robert downey jr. tropic thunder blackface

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Are teens just now finding out Robert Downey Jr. wore blackface in ‘Tropic Thunder’?

'Woke teenagers discovering Tropic Thunder is my favorite tweet genre.'


Tiffanie Drayton

Internet Culture

Posted on Apr 30, 2020   Updated on May 1, 2020, 9:03 am CDT

Every so often the fact that Robert Downey Jr. wore blackface in the movie Tropic Thunder pops up.

In the movie, released in 2008, Downey plays a white Australian actor named Kirk Lazarus, who is overly committed to his roles. Lazarus even undergoes a skin pigmentation procedure to change his skin color and enable him to play a Black man—*enter blackface—named Staff Sgt. Lincoln Osiris.

In Hollywood, Downey’s blackface performance won him an Oscar nomination for the controversial role. Yet, the Avengers star agrees that his role may not have gone over so smoothly with audiences today.

His assessment is not wrong.

One Twitter user pointed out that some are just now stumbling on the award-winning film for the very first time.

“Woke teenagers discovering Tropic Thunder is my favorite tweet genre,” they wrote, along with a series of tweets from users outraged over the film.

After the tweet went viral, others expressed dismay over Downey wearing blackface.

“Remember that time Robert Downey jr did full blackface and nobody said ANYTHING,” one user tweeted.

If Gen Z truly was outraged en masse, their tweets were quickly drowned out by grown Twitter.

“If you’re not seeing the Robert Downey Jr. blackface outrage tweets from people who’ve never seen Tropic Thunder, you’re in for a treat,” one user joked.

They also tried school those who they believe may not have even watched the movie.

“‘Remember that time Robert Downey jr did full blackface to shine a light on the ridiculous practice of it for a comedy movie? What a great actor and film.’ There, fixed it,” one user wrote in response to a critical tweet that has since been deleted.

Correction: Downey was nominated for an Oscar in 2009.


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*First Published: Apr 30, 2020, 7:00 pm CDT