Disability advocates challenge Stiller film

Several dozen disability advocates converged in front of Monday night’s Westwood premiere of “Tropic Thunder” to protest the comedic use of the word retard.

Chanting “Ban the movie, ban the word,” marchers carried signs with such slogans as “R-word = hate speech” and passed out flyers urging a boycott of the comedy.

The DreamWorks film, which features Ben Stiller playing an actor best known for his role as a mentally challenged man in the ficticious drama “Simple Jack,” has garnered a wave of criticism in recent weeks culminating with Monday’s protest.

Though event organizers, who called the protest “sad,” said the display didn’t affect the red-carpet fete, security was visibly tighter. Views of the red carpet, normally unobstructed to the public, were blocked off by 10-foot-high green fences. There was also a stronger security presence than at typical premieres at the venue. Additionally, there was no premiere after-party, which is customary for such a high-profile summer film.

Inside the Mann Village Theatre, revelers including Stiller and Tom Cruise, seemed unfazed by the nearby demonstration. The audience laughed heartily at all of the jokes that featured the use of the controversial word. When the film’s Robert Downey Jr. implores Stiller’s character to “Never go full retard” when chasing an Oscar, the crowd applauded enthusiastically.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more