After backlash from the Special Olympics, snowboarder Shaun White has apologized for his Halloween costume poking fun of people with disabilities.
This weekend, White posted a photo to Instagram dressed as the character Simple Jack, played by Ben Stiller’s character in the 2008 movie Tropic Thunder. The character is a “joke” half at the expense of disabled people, and half at the expense of actors who try to play disabled people for Oscar bait. It was ableist to start with, but when removed from the context of the movie, it gets much worse.
After the post, White quickly received backlash, and he deleted the picture from his Instagram. The most notable criticism came from the Special Olympics. “We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain,” a representative for the Special Olympics told TMZ. “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.”
Shaun White released an apology to the Special Olympics for his costume on Monday. He said that the costume was a last-minute decision, but it was also “the wrong one.” “The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it,” wrote White in his apology. “They do great work supporting so many tremendous athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned.”
For some the apology isn’t enough, particularly because it was aimed at the Special Olympics, and not all people with disabilities.
So apparently all is forgiven by Special Olympics for Shaun White's decision to make his Halloween costume a #disabled person. It was not for respect more for ridicule and guffaw laughs. I guess if you are a RAD gold medalist snowboarder, all is cool. No apology for others pic.twitter.com/uUEsZu2mIB
— RB Cochrane (@RBcochrane) October 30, 2018
I feel like this apology should be addressed to a larger group than just those who called you out. Try actually considering who was affected by your choice and how. Thanks, management. https://t.co/Gn0kon1osI
— Haley (@doneone97) October 29, 2018
Stiller also weighed in to say he had apologized when the movie came out, but that he stands by the movie and White.
Actually Tropic Thunder was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then. It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards. I stand by my apology, the movie, Shaun White, And the great people and work of the @SpecialOlympics. https://t.co/RqID5jIXP1
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) October 30, 2018
In the end, the Special Olympics accepted White’s apology and said he always has an invitation to “shred” with them at Aspen.
— Special Olympics (@SpecialOlympics) October 30, 2018
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