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Ron Howard says gay joke in “The Dilemma” stays in: “I believe in sensitivity but not censorship.”


Ron Howard Picture

The Dilemma, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and Queen Latifah, does not come out until January but it has been a hot topic for several weeks now because of a controversial gay joke.

Anderson Cooper noticed the joke in the movie’s trailer earlier this month and complained about it a few times on his CNN show and during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

In a scene in the trailer, Vaughn’s character says in a workplace scene: “Electric cars are gay.” He goes on to make clear that he doesn’t mean “homosexual, gay, but, you know, my parents are chaperoning the dance, gay.”

GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) wants the studio to remove the joke from the movie entirely.

The film’s director, Oscar winner Ron Howard, wrote to Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein this week about the controversy and made clear that he does not intend to remove the joke from the movie. Here is an excerpt:

So why was the joke in the movie?  Our lead character of Ronny Valentine has
a mouth that sometimes gets him into trouble and he definitely flirts with
the line of what’s okay to say.  He tries to do what’s right but sometimes
falls short.  Who can’t relate to that?   I am drawn to films that have a
variety of characters with different points of view who clash, conflict and
learn to live with each other. THE DILEMMA is a story full of flawed
characters whose lives are complicated by the things they say to and hide
from each other.  Ronny is far from perfect and he does and says some
outrageous things along the way.

Was it in the script or was it a Vince Vaughn ad lib?  Vince is a brilliant
improvisational actor, but in this case It was always in the script.  THE
DILEMMA is a comedy for grown-ups, not kids.  It’s true that the moment took
on extra significance in light of some events that surrounded the release of
the trailer and the studio made the decision to remove it from advertising,
which I think was appropriate.  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.

FILE UNDER: Controversy, GLAAD


(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

5 Remarks

  1. I completely agree with Ron Howard. This is a movie, not real life. Enjoy the movie and don’t take it too seriously.

  2. This movie and the “controversial” joke in it has been given way too much energy and publicity. I have no interest in seeing it, but only because Ron Howard’s movies are pretty unremarkable to begin with.

  3. yeah, but take a look at the new second trailer; that one is offensive; in an exchange with another guest at an anniversary party about how second cousins really aren’t related, but if they have kids together they will be ‘homo’…

    THAT is offensive.

  4. Mike – You need to listen more carefully. What you are saying is inaccurate.

    Vaughn’s character was saying how a second cousin really isn’t even a relative, because someone could have sex with their second cousin and the kid would most likely still be ‘normal’. He did not say ‘homo’.

  5. October 31st, 2010 at 7:15 pm
    David in Houston says:

    First of all, let me start by saying I’m gay AND I don’t mind if the joke stays in the movie. If the character is an immature a-hole, saying a joke like that would verify that he’s an immature a-hole. The message being that only immature a-holes say “That’s (so) gay.” Good enough.

    The real issue is, the use of that phrase needs to stop being used in the real world. Kids are killing themselves because they’re gay or perceived to be gay. This is just one more part of the whole bullying epidemic. Equating gay with lame and stupid isn’t giving these ostracized kids a boost in the ego department. Especially when they hear this over and over, every single day from other students… and now adults are saying it… and now we’re seeing it in movies too. It needs to stop, just like that inane “no homo” crap.

    This is very simple: Gay = a sexual orientation. Gay does not equal lame or stupid. It’s not rocket science. Gay people have the final say on this issue, since they are the target. Just like African-Americans have the final say on the N-word. But like I said, if the phrase is used to point out the douchebag-ness of a character, by all means use it.

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