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Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author

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Conclusion, Page 273

Ben Stiller and blackface minstrel Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder (2008).

In Putney Swope, Robert Downey Jr.'s father, Robert Downey Sr., dubbed himself as Swope because he thought Arnold Johnson, the actor playing Swope, didn't read his lines well enough. Rather than hire another actor, Downey performed a bit of minstrelsy in which he imagined he was capable of rendering an "authentic" portrayal of black identity.

A similar ideal of fantastic blackness is taken up by Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, in which he plays a character obsessed with racial performance, even undergoing pigmentation alteration to play a Sergeant Lincoln Osiris.
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