Howard Won't Remove Antigay Joke

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 30 2010 12:15 AM ET

Director Ron Howard and Universal Studios have refused to remove the controversial antigay joke from the upcoming Vince Vaughn comedy The Dilemma, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Times writer Patrick Goldstein announced the filmmaker's decision on his blog, The Big Picture. Howard responded to written questions from Goldstein, writing, “I believe in sensitivity but not censorship. I feel that our film is taking additional heat as an emblem for many movies and TV shows that preceded it that have even more provocative characterizations and language. It is a slight moment in The Dilemma 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.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation released a statement from its president, Jarrett Barrios, in response to Howard's decision.

“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," Barrios said in the statement. "Unfortunately, by leaving it in the movie, they are now contributing to the problem. The conversations started as a result of the community’s response to this slur will help schools, media and parents understand the impact of the word ‘gay' being used as a pejorative. 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.”

The trailer for The Dilemma, which opens with Vince Vaughn's character using the phrase "Electric cars are gay" as a pejorative, resulted in complaints from GLAAD and CNN's Anderson Cooper, who denounced the remark as insensitive in light of the recent spate of teen suicides due to antigay bullying. Universal responded to the criticism by removing the scene from the trailer.

Vaughn has stated that he hopes the joke remains in the film. The Dilemma is scheduled for release in January.