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Watch: Ron Howard Explains Why Gay Joke Stayed in 'The Dilemma'

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Director Ron Howard appeared on The View and was asked about the controversy surrounding the film's trailer, in which actor Vince Vaughn uses the word "gay" in a derogatory joke in a meeting. The joke was removed from the trailer, but not the film, following action from GLAAD.

Said Howard on The View:

"I was a little surprised by it because you sort of see that used on TV shows and especially comedies a lot. But I would say yes and no, because it was completely out of context that they were evaluating it, and it was a piece of advertising, so it's not like they [made a] commitment [to go] see this person's film... This was being thrust upon people, and it's a very, very serious issue, so those who were raising the point were using popular entertainment to take a position I think that's incredibly valid and even important, and people should speak up. I agreed with Universal when they removed it [from the trailer]."

Howard went on to explain that the joke was not removed from the film because it's "the nature of that character Vince Vaughn plays" and it's "not lost on anyone within the framework of the scene."

Howard made no mention of his intimate moments on set with Channing Tatum.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. I agree with Ron Howard. It was in the character's nature. Sort of like an Archie Bunker type. I think we are fighting the wrong people on this one.

    Posted by: jgm22 | Jan 14, 2011 9:25:12 AM


  2. whatever... sounds like an, "I'm sorry YOU were offended" apology.

    Once the objection was made, he should have simply found another means of demonstrating the character was a knucklehead, or whatever point he's trying to make.

    Get over yourself, Ron. This is not an epic film, it's an already forgotten about out, run of the mill, rom-com.

    Posted by: pete N sfo | Jan 14, 2011 9:27:24 AM


  3. I wish the LGBT community would lighten up, and rather than sacrifice our sense of humor, the very thing that has seen us through the worst of times, be so quick to demonize everyone who is a bit politically incorrect . . . particularly people like Ron Howard . . . a staunch supporter of gay rights.

    Have people forgotten so soon the videos he created with former co-stars, Henry Winkler and Andy Griffith, in their respective character's as Richie Cunningham and the Fonz, and Opie and Sheriff Taylor, in support of the gay marriage and equal rights?

    Let's 1: not be so easily offended and allow that the type of character portrayed by Vince Vaughn exists in real life and that, as Ron Howard says, the context in which the line that has so incensed people is not lost upon the other characters in the film . . . that we are etalking about a character

    and 2:

    can we try not so hard to make enemies of our friends?

    Ron Howard is a friend. He is one of the most powerful well regarded, talented, and esteemed directors in Hollywood, and has never forgotten who he is, and has used his current position, and his influence, reaching out to others in Hollywood, to be a voice for the LGBT community, and enact positive change on our behalf.

    We have endured much worse with buffoons who are not our friends, indeed our enemies . . . Ron Howard is a friend!!

    Are we going to be less tolerant of a friend than our actual enemies?

    I hope not!

    Posted by: Ricco | Jan 14, 2011 9:28:59 AM


  4. Choose your battles. Why waste energy on a dumb low-brow comedy. When characters in a movie use ethnic slurs no one gets their tits in a knot about it.

    Posted by: tyn | Jan 14, 2011 9:53:29 AM


  5. PeteinSFO: Well said.

    Posted by: Matthew 26 | Jan 14, 2011 9:55:41 AM


  6. He's right on both points. It was a bad choice to include it in the trailer, especially the very opening of the trailer. When I was in the theater and it came on (before the controversy really began), it was jarring that the first thing I see is Vince Vaughan insulting something with the word 'gay', and then having an entire discussion about the distinction of its use. It did put me off. That said, in the context of the film and its characters, it could very well make sense and be inoffensive to the intelligent viewer. So kudos to him for at least being thoughtful about it and not just reactionary and defensive.

    Posted by: Wes | Jan 14, 2011 9:55:47 AM


  7. I'm with Ron Howard. There is nothing wrong with portraying an insensitive character with the kind of language he would use. In fact, if the movie presents the character as somewhat of an dolt, it helps demonstrate how stupid it is to talk like that. Ron is completely 100% correct here.

    Posted by: Kevin | Jan 14, 2011 10:13:42 AM


  8. @ Ricco: the word gay should never be used in a negative way. It is not even funny to use it in an politically incorrent statement.

    If Ron is a "friend", he would never have used it accordingly.

    Get your story straight.

    Posted by: Mitchblair | Jan 14, 2011 10:14:56 AM


  9. Trailers are created by marketing people, but most directors with a control complex (meaning: all) have a hand in them or at least sign off on them. So he knew it was in there. Though "even important" was a poor choice of words, but no one speaks perfectly all the time.

    Anyway, there are far bigger fish to fry than this. If the line had just been in the movie, few people would have noticed and a lot of effort could have been saved. It actually just provided a lot of free publicity for a likely mediocre movie.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 14, 2011 10:32:51 AM


  10. Agree Ricco.

    This portrayal of a straight guy's use of gay as a descriptor is not homophobic. It's realistic.

    In fact, it's making a straight guy look like a dork - so maybe it's actually hetrophobic.

    Or dorkphobic.

    Mitchblair, I respectfully disagree - while you may feel that the word gay should never be used in a negative way, it IS used in a negative way in the real world, and the portrayal of that reality is not something that you can or should be able to forbid.

    Posted by: MammaBear | Jan 14, 2011 10:58:25 AM


  11. "Have people forgotten so soon the videos he created with former co-stars...in support of the gay marriage and equal rights?"

    I don't recall that happening. Are you sure you're not thinking of the videos they did to support Obama's election campaign? If so, remember, that Obama is still playing politics n that issue and refuses to admit out loud that he supports full equality. I'm not sure what "reaching out" to change things for the "LGBT community" you're talking about. I'd hope he's done so, but do you have any quotes from him about it?

    "Are we going to be less tolerant of a friend than our actual enemies?"

    I don't think anyone's being intolerant of him. Even Ron Howard says he agrees with those who argued to take the so-called "joke" out of the trailer. I don't doubt that he's a good guy, but it did seem that proper care was not taken to be sensitive about the slur in the movie and trailer.

    I wonder, if thousands of red-heads were being attacked around the world in hate crimes each year and if there were a "kill the gingers" bill being debated in Uganda, would Howard have felt comfortable having an Archie Bunker-type character making similar slurs-for-laughs against red-heads?

    Posted by: GregV | Jan 14, 2011 11:13:35 AM


  12. Mitchblair . . . my story is straight.

    Hmm . . . is that alright to say . . . straight?

    In my comments I said nothing about the phrase "that's so gay" being funny. I have had occasion to find offense in that particular phraseology myself,m when it was meant to offend.

    I don't know how old you are, if Norman Lears "All In The Family" predated your ovulation or birth, but the character, Archie Bunker, uttered racial and bigoted slurs, on a weekly basis. And it was very funny.

    Not . . . Mitch, the slurs them selves, but the fact that a person such as Archie Bunker could exist, and could with a straight face utter such bald faced stupidity . . . and the laughs were also generated by the other characters in the show who were either mute with astonishment at his stupidity, or would poke at and ridicule him, and he was sto obtuse to realize that a joke had been made at his expense.

    Of course, a show like "All In The Family" could never make it on the air today, and the kinds of things Archie said would never be tolerated in today's ultra-sensitive, politically incorrect environment. And that's just downright sad.

    My story is straight as I was speaking generally about a movie that is meant to be a comedy. I was speaking in the most general of terms, not specifically about how funny or not funny the movie is, and I was speaking of the context, not the line itself, in which the line was used . . . that the buffoon Vince Vaughn portrays, not the line itself, would be the humorous aspect of the scene.

    Most importantly, I was addressing how easily people of late take offense at the smallest jest or infraction. My comments were also were intended to remind people that Ron Howard is a friend.

    And he is a friend.

    Mitch . . . when you say that a "friend" would never use the word "gay" in the manner we are discussing, I have to wonder and ask are you and your circle of friends so perfect that not one word has ever been out of place, nothing ever said by one in your circle that has been politically incorrect, walked the edge between good and bad taste, and did not offend a friend in your circle? Seriously . . . never? And no one in your circle has ever had occasion to apologize for something insensitive and oafish that has come out of his/her mouth? Ever? And never has there been a feud where an apology expected went unsatisfied amongst your circle? Ever?

    Really?

    If you insist that your friends never speak an offensive word, and never need to apologize, I will take your word for it . . . but the fact is that the rest of us inhabit a world where FRIENDS actually do stupid stuff and say stupid, insensitive stuff all the time, and sometimes they recognize their stupidity and apologize, and other times they don't see it and will tell us to get over ourselves, and to get a sense of humor . . . and they are not the less our friends for not seeing things as we see them.

    Ron Howard does not see what the fuss is all about given the context in which this line is uttered . . . but what I was ultimately trying to do in making my comments was to remind people that he is a friend and has been a strong advocate of the LGBT community, and that we should not be so quick to attack and give up on our friends, just because they do not agree with us all the time.

    Not all of us have a circle of friends such as yourself, that are so perfect, with never a word, perhaps never a hair out of place.

    Love is not easily offended, Mitch, and that is the indirect inference I most wished to make in my comments.

    Personally, I should trust my enemies before I trusted a circle of friends that never sad a stupid or insensitive thing, who were so perfect that an apology would be out of place among them.

    That is the straight story of my gay life.

    Peace

    Posted by: Ricco | Jan 14, 2011 11:17:16 AM


  13. Fail.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 14, 2011 11:25:32 AM


  14. I personally don't believe he is a bigot in any way but I'd be hard pressed to believe he is any sort of ally. Just because he's politically conscious doesn't mean he's on our side, even if he voted for Obama. I do think it was a sincere gesture on his part to explain Vaughn's character and he's definately right that the character is someone who would say that.

    I also think the recent suicides by gay teens has hit a very sore spot with the gay community. Perhaps it was just bad timing.

    Posted by: terry | Jan 14, 2011 11:32:43 AM


  15. JGMCC, who's fighting anyone on this? Has there been a boycott called I haven't heard about? I haven't really heard anyone talk about it since the scene was removed from the trailer.

    Posted by: Daniel | Jan 14, 2011 12:45:54 PM


  16. What TV comedies and films still use that expression?

    Posted by: boo | Jan 14, 2011 1:08:06 PM


  17. In situations like these where we as a community are unhappy with speech made by others I think we need to take the following approach.
    1) Let them know we are unhappy with their speech.
    2)Ask them to retract it.
    3) Apply pressure
    4) If the above doesn't work, which it hasn't fully in this case, I believe it is helpful to show them how it would feel if the same thing was happening to them. I believe we gave up after #3 in the present case, so my friend and I made a YouTube video called, "That's so Vince Vaughn's Mother's Pussy," which can be viewed on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jLLaCywSmc.
    The reason for using Vince Vaughn's Mother's pussy is that it is a typical insult to a straight man and yet is so unrelated to anything, just as being gay is so unrelated to anything to which the phrase "that's so gay" is used.

    Posted by: SFHarry | Jan 14, 2011 2:37:40 PM


  18. So did they ask Ron Howard why it's not just this one film, but several of his films that have problematic gay content? Like de-gaying the true story in "A Beautiful Mind" or the scene in "Night Shift" that was so homophobic that Vito Russo used it as a prime example of offensive Hollywood images in his landmark book "The Celluloid Closet"?

    Or perhaps interviewers could have just asked Howard to name one positive gay image from even one of his films. Just one. You would have heard more crickets than Mayberry on a moonlit night.

    As usual, the problem in interviews like this is no follow-up or context. Howard can pretend that the only issue is this one film, and he skates by so that even people who ought to know better think "gee, it's just one instance and, gosh, it's not so bad."

    The real question here, though, is if Ron Howard is ever going to change his ways or if we're going to be re-visiting yet another "gay" problem in one of his movies again a few years from now. Given his record over the last 25 years, I'm guessing "probably."

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Jan 14, 2011 2:41:45 PM


  19. Ron, please try to dress up as something OTHER than Gollum when you go out in public.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 14, 2011 2:42:11 PM


  20. Here's the thing though, the scene didn't only deal with HIS character. He made the comment, using it as a tagline, and no one minded. In fact, from what I saw, the executives he was pitching to approved of the idea and thus liked him for it.

    That scene thus reflects on a lot more than just him. It doesn't say, "hey, jerks say stuff like this sometimes." It said, "Hey, cool guys say stuff like this and it makes them successful."

    Posted by: Matt S | Jan 14, 2011 2:56:15 PM


  21. That line was still in the trailer I saw, before a movie, a couple of weeks ago. It looks like another dumb Vince Vaughn movie.

    Posted by: none | Jan 14, 2011 4:03:09 PM


  22. I just wont spend my $$ on this film. Guess it is I who shall win this one at least for me.

    Posted by: Skooter McGoo | Jan 14, 2011 4:54:14 PM


  23. Who cares?! The movie has gotten horrendous reviews and will probably be a big bomb.

    Posted by: jaragon | Jan 14, 2011 5:56:41 PM


  24. Ron Howard is a kind man, who has created countless wonderfully joyous movies. I give Opie a big hug and Richie a squeeze on his tight 1950's ass.

    Posted by: Tom | Jan 14, 2011 6:30:56 PM


  25. Bravo, Ricco.

    Posted by: Kevin B | Jan 14, 2011 8:09:43 PM


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