Hollywood A-lister Ben Stiller is not surrendering to the political correctness movement or to members of the rabid anti-Donald Trump movement who suffer visceral reactions to any image of the president — regardless how old the pictures or video clips may be.
'You have to look at the context'
In a recent interview with "The New Abnormal" podcast, Stiller discussed today's politically correct culture and its impact on comedy and movie-making. The actor-director noted how there are several movies — particularly satire — that were made just a few years ago that could not be made in today's climate, including his controversial hit, "Tropic Thunder."
Asked about the impact of today's "preposterous politics" on comedy and movie-making, Stiller, said, "Honestly, I don't know if it's the politics as much as just the atmosphere of the political correctness now and everybody being afraid to say something that's offensive."
"Comedically, it's definitely challenging," he said, adding, "I think it's much tougher now, and when I think about movies that I've worked on in the past, and I look at them now, definitely there are jokes and scenes and that I go, 'Oh, I don't know if we could have gotten away with that today, at all.'"
Specifically, he noted that "Tropic Thunder" — which included Robert Downey Jr. playing an actor who was playing the part of a black man and Stiller who portrayed an actor who played a mentally challenged character — likely wouldn't have been made in 2020.
He said that he could understand those feelings "contextually" today, however, he noted: "But at the time — that's the thing to me that's so complicated about how we approach what's appropriate and what's not in terms of the timeframe that it was made. It doesn't necessarily mean that anything was more appropriate at another time but you have to look at the context and realize that that's what was happening."
The Trump cameo
The discussion then turned to President Trump and his many cameos in TV shows and movies — and about whether to cut his his appearances from those productions, which some anti-Trump people have suggested.
Stiller directed the 2001 comedy movie "Zoolander," in which Stiller played the title character Derek Zoolander, an empty-headed, full-of-himself male model.
Among several celebrity cameos were Donald Trump and his then-girlfriend Melania Knauss. In the movie, Trump says of the main character, "Look, without Derek Zoolander, male modeling wouldn't be what it is today."
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Stiller said Trump and the future first lady were included because of where the filming occurred.
"We were shooting at the now defunct VH1 Fashion Awards," Stiller said, "and as people were coming up the red carpet, we pulled them aside and asked them to talk about Derek Zoolander, and so Trump and Melania did that."
He, of course, had no idea at the time that he was filming the future controversial president.
Now, in the current environment where no one wants to be offended by anything they see or hear, especially when it comes to Donald Trump, people are suggesting that Stiller cut the Trump cameo from the movie.
"I've had people who reached out to me and said, like, 'You should edit Donald Trump out of "Zoolander,"' and all that," Stiller told the podcast.
Stiller, no Trump fan himself, noted that the controversy over Trump is similar to the fights going on over movies and TV shows that could not be made today.
Noting the Trump cameo in "Zoolander," Stiller said, "But at the end of the day, it's kind of like, again, that was a time when that exists and that happened."
The interview begins at the 17:50 mark:
(H/T: New York Post)