Ben Stiller thinks Shaun White's Halloween costume, which some have called "insensitive," is worth defending

By Maura Hohman
October 31, 2018 11:49 AM
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Credit: Nicholas Hunt/Getty; Mike Coppola/Getty

Ben Stiller thinks Shaun White‘s Halloween costume, which some have called “insensitive,” is worth defending.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist, 32, was slammed over the weekend by the Special Olympics for dressing up as Simple Jack, a character with a disability played by Ben Stiller, 52, in Tropic Thunder. White has since apologized to the Special Olympics and deleted the Instagram of his costume, but Stiller still felt compelled to come to his rescue.

In response to a Twitter user who joked that Tropic Thunder should be boycotted because of White’s actions, the Meet the Parents star responded, “Actually Tropic Thunder was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then.”

And even though White chose to remind people of the Simple Jack character, Stiller was okay with it.

“It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards. I stand by my apology, the movie, Shaun White, and the great people and work of the Special Olympics,” he concluded.

Shaun White as Simple Jack
| Credit: Shaun White/Instagram

In a statement given to HuffPo and TMZ on Monday, the Special Olympics called out the athlete for “[choosing] this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain. Disability is not a joke nor should it be a punchline. We hope that Shaun White and others learn that this just continues stigma, stereotypes and discrimination.”

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Shortly after, White released a statement to PEOPLE and on social media expressing his regret.

“I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume the other night,” White said. “It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one. The Special Olympics are right to call me out on it. They do great work supporting many tremendous athletes and I am so sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned.”

Shaun White
| Credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty

In the 2008 film, Simple Jack is a mentally-challenged farm boy who is picked on for his disabilities and commonly referred to as the R-word.

Ahead of Tropic Thunder’s release, advocates for the disabled protested the film.

At the time, Peter Wheeler, a spokesperson for the Special Olympics, told Reuters, “We are asking people not to go to the movie and hope to bring a consciousness to people about using derogatory words about this population.”

Ben Stiller as Simple Jack from Tropic Thunder
| Credit: DreamWorks

DreamWorks defended the films use of the R-word and Stiller’s character at the time.

“Tropic Thunder’ is an R-rated comedy that satirizes Hollywood and its excesses, and makes its point by featuring inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations. The film is in no way meant to disparage or harm the image of individuals with disabilities,” Chip Sullivan, a spokesperson for DreamWorks said, Reuters reported.