Olympic snowboarder Shaun White slammed for offensive 'Tropic Thunder' Simple Jack Halloween costume
Halloween is supposed to be a time for spooks and scares, for trick or treating and wearing ridiculous costumes, and - most importantly - for having fun. Unfortunately, there's always at least one person who ruins it, whether they mean to deliberately or not.
Already this week, we've heard about a white man who decided to go out in full blackface and apparently "didn't see a problem" with his actions - and now news has emerged that Shaun White, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and American snowboarding champion, also crossed a line with his Halloween costume.
In a picture posted to Instagram this weekend, the 32-year-old showed himself dressed as "Simple Jack", a character with an intellectual disability from the movie Tropic Thunder.
The choice of costume was immediately seen as offensive by many, especially those in the Special Olympics.
So shocking was White's outfit, in fact, that Soeren Palumbo, senior director of global youth engagement at Special Olympics, gave a statement on the matter.
Speaking to HuffPost, Palumbo said that the organisation was “truly disappointed” in the snowboarder.
"We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain," he said. "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."
Since being called out by so many people, White has taken down the post and replaced it with an apology.
"I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume the other night," he wrote. "It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one. The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it. They do great work supporting so many tremendous athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned."
The Special Olympics' Twitter account subsequently thanked White for his apology, saying that "you always have an invitation to shred with our athletes at #XGames Aspen!"
However, given the outrage over the original Simple Jack character, who was played by Ben Stiller in 2008, White probably should have known better.
Indeed, at the time of the movie's release, the film was criticised for poking fun at people with intellectual disabilities, and many took particular issue with the use of the R-word throughout. What's more, Robert Downey Jr. donned blackface in order to perform his role, causing yet more outrage amongst viewers.
Let's be honest here, folks, it really isn't difficult to avoid offending someone on Halloween. There are infinite amounts of costumes to choose from - you don't need to pick something that will potentially be hurtful to someone else.
In this case, it seems that White has owned up to his mistake and apologised accordingly, and, hopefully, the widespread reaction to his costume will show others that it simply isn't appropriate to turn someone else's struggle into an outfit that can be put on for the sake of a joke.