Ron Howard Defends Gay Joke's Inclusion in Film

"'The Dilemma' is a comedy for grown-ups, not kids," director says.

October 30, 2010, 4:42 PM

Oct. 30, 2010— -- Filmmaker Ron Howard has come out in defense of his decision to keep a joke that has been deemed offensive by pundits and a gay rights group in his new movie "The Dilemma."

Howard, who directed "The Dilemma," defended the joke's inclusion in a note released Friday. The derogatory gag's inclusion in the film's trailer caused an uproar when it was released earlier this month.

The controversy prompted the studio, Universal, to remove the line of dialogue from the trailer.

In the trailer, a character portrayed by Vince Vaughn says: "Electric cars are gay. I mean, not 'homosexual' gay but 'my parents are chaperoning the dance gay.'"

"The Dilemma is a comedy for grown-ups, not kids," Howard said in the note. "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 don't strip my films of everything that I might personally find inappropriate. Comedy or drama, I'm always trying to make choices that stir the audience in all kinds of ways. 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."

CNN's Anderson Cooper and Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) spoke out against the film's trailer in the wake of the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, who commited killed himself after being bullied for being gay. Both Cooper and GLAAD objected to the use of the word "gay," calling it an unnecessary slur against homosexuals.

"Unfortunately, by leaving it in the movie, they are now contributing to the problem," GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios told The Hollywood Reporter.

"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," Barrios said.

"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," he said.

Howard is now the second person involved in the film to publicly defend the joke, after the film's star Vince Vaughn said: "Comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together. Drawing divided lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us. Most importantly, where does it stop?"

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