Three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White found himself in the Special Olympic crosshairs this week when he rocked a Simple Jack Halloween to a party. For those unfamiliar, Simple Jack is a mentally-challenged character played by Ben Stiller in the 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder, a movie so outlandish there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell it would fly in today’s political climate (Works Cited: the oft-quoted line, “Never go full retard.”)
If we’re judging White’s costume based on authenticity alone, I have to give him a 9 out of 10.
The Special Olympics was not as impressed. The organization released a statement condemning the snowboarding legend, saying:
“We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose 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.”
White took to Instagram to express a sincere apology for being “insensitive.”
In a thread surrounding the controversy, Ben Stiller aka Simple Jack, stood by Shaun White and clarified what the movie intended to represent.
I was totally unaware that 10 years ago, advocates for disability groups demanded a national boycott for the film, which Stiller starred in and directed. Groups were appalled that the word “retard” was used over a dozen times and some stood outside the premiere in Los Angeles, holding signs that said, Ban the Movie, Ban the Word, and the R Word is Hate Speech.
[h/t Page Six]