LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. actor-director Ben Stiller says "Tropic Thunder" skewers actors who play disabled people in pursuit of Oscar glory; it doesn't poke fun of the disabled.
The comedy about a group of actors -- which was directed and co-written by Stiller -- has come under fire for what some feel is its insensitive portrayal of the intellectually disabled.
Stiller plays an actor who portrays a character called Simple Jack in a fictional film frequently referred to within "Thunder." The word "retard" reportedly is used numerous times in relation to Stiller's character's previous portrayal of the Jack character.
"It's sort of edgy territory but we felt that as long as the focus was on the actors who were trying to do something to be taken seriously that's going too far or wrong, that was where the humor would come from," Stiller told MTV News. "(The joke is on) actors reaching for roles in terms of hopefully winning awards."
"Some people have taken this as making fun of handicapped people but we're really trying to make fun of the actors who use this material as fodder for acclaim," co-writer Etan Cohen told MTV News. "The last thing you want is for people to think you're making fun of the victims in this who are having their lives turned into fodder for people to win Oscars."