Despite demands from gay rights activists and scoldings from the media, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard will not be removing a gay joke from his new comedy film “The Dilemma.”
“I don’t strip my films of everything that I might personally find inappropriate,” Howard told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “It is a slight moment in [the film] meant to demonstrate an aspect of our lead character’s personality, and we never expected it to represent our intentions or the point of view of the movie or those of us who made it.”
That slight moment comes from actor Vince Vaughn, whose character calls electric cars “gay” during a meeting in the movie.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, electric cars are gay,” Vaughn’s character Ronnie Valentine says. “I mean, not ‘homosexual’ gay, but ‘my parents are chaperoning the dance gay.”
Vaughn has defended the joke: “Comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together.”
“If storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought,” Howard, who says he owns electric cars, added.
Cooper — who is reportedly homosexual — disagrees. During a recent appearance on Ellen Degeneres’s show he said that the word “gay” should become a term that is “unacceptable,” especially in light of recent gay bullying cases:
In response to the critcism, Universial Pictures has replaced the trailer with one that does not include the joke.
That, however, does not go far enough for GLAAD ( the Gay and Lesbian Aliance Against Defemation) President Jarret Barrios.
“At a time when so many in our country are speaking out against the bullying of gay youth, Universal was right to acknowledge the offensive nature of this ‘joke’ when it removed it from trailers,” he said in a statement reported by the New York Daily News. “Hopefully in the future, Universal and Ron Howard will recognize the power of their words and use their films to bring people together rather than drive us apart.”
“I believe in sensitivity but not censorship,” Howard responded on Friday.