As both Tugg Speedman and Sean Penn can attest, playing a guy who ain’t smart but thinks he is, that’s tricky. Gold medal snowboarder and occasional indie rock frontman, Shaun White, is learning this lesson the hard way.
For Halloween, White dressed up as Simple Jack, Speedman’s mentally-challenged character from 2008’s Tropic Thunder. In the movie, the character — played by Ben Stiller — was meant to be a commentary on Oscar-baiting roles. Even back then, the character received much criticism from the disability advocacy community, and a decade later, Simple Jack remains just as controversial.
Soeren Palumbo, co-founder of the Special Olympics criticized White for his costume, saying in a statement, “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 has since apologized for “my poor choice of Halloween costume,” adding that “It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one. The Special Olympics was right to call me on it.”