Monday, November 1, 2010

Let Ron handle this one, Vince.

According to TV Guide,
Director Ron Howard says he will not cut a joke using the word "gay" from his new film, The Dilemma. The joke was deemed insensitive by GLAAD and subsequently removed from the film's trailer two weeks ago.
In the clip, Vince Vaughn, who plays an automotive consultant, says, "Ladies and gentleman, electric cars are gay."
"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," Howard wrote in a letter to The Los Angeles Times. "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."
However, Howard said he agreed with Universal's choice to remove the joke in question from the film's trailer, calling it an "appropriate" decision.
Vaughn has weighed in on the controversy. TV Guide reports,
Vince Vaughn is standing behind the use of a gay joke in his upcoming film, The Dilemma.
In the film, Vaughn plays an automotive consultant who says, "Ladies and gentleman, electric cars are gay." Universal pulled the joke from the film's trailer after complaints from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and comments by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. Universal said the trailer "was not intended to cause anyone discomfort," but it remains unclear if the joke will still be used in the film.
Vaughn made a case for the joke to stand. "Drawing dividing lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us," he said in a statement to "Most importantly, where does it stop?"
The 40-year-old actor said he supports those outraged by the bullying and persecution of gay people, but  he thinks everyone should be able to laugh with one another. "Comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together," he said.
In my view, this is one of those cases of political correctness run amok. Howard claims that the joke is intended not to demean homosexuals but rather to establish character, i.e., it is intended to show the audience that the character played by Vaughn is a prick. To work, the joke presumes the very offensiveness of the joke that GLAAD is pointing out. The makers of the film agree with GLAAD's assessment of the offensiveness of the joke, and that is exactly why it is used to establish Vaughn's character in the movie. Some who view the movie will think that the joke is funny, in the same way that many television viewers thought Archie Bunker was a hero rather than the bigot his creators took him to be. But that does not justify censorship. GLAAD needs to chill.

Vaughn's justification of the joke is half plausible and half just plain stupid. Caving to the demands of groups like GLAAD does raise the specter of censorship, and a line must be drawn somewhere. But Vaughn's justification seems to be based on an obliviousness to the offensiveness of the joke. It's funny, and that can bring us together, Vaughn appears to think. No, not really, Vince. Let Ron handle this one, all right?

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