In Allan Loeb’s screenplay, dated a year ago, Vaughn’s character goes on to say “Not homosexual gay … but soft gay, unmanly gay, quiet and small gay” (in the trailer, the line was “my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay”) and that “if you’re a real man … you don’t want an electronic car,” which tries to swerve [around accusations of] homophobia while still taking the word as a slur, and at no point is he reprimanded for his stance by any other character.
But is even mentioning homosexuality taboo in comedy? I don’t think so. Context is clearly important, and there’s a way to joke about it without alienating people and reinforcing stereotypes. The poker scene from Louie is probably the smartest take on the whole argument that’s been made recently, but just today, Michael Ian Black responded to a fan who took umbrage with a joke he made that contained the word “faggot.”
I was laughing hysterically and enjoying every moment of it until you made a joke about the night before your daughter started her first day of kindergarten. I was still laughing as you said, “You should be afraid,” and was giggling until I heard you say: “Have you heard of bullying? She said no, so I called her a ‘faggot’ and punched her in the face.”Although I know this was all in good fun, that joke deeply offended me and I was really disappointed in you. I don’t know if you watch the news, but there’s been a recent rise in suicides amongst gay youth the last month, culminating with a college student at Johnson and Wales University in Providence taking his life.
There’s obviously no cut-and-dry answer. It’s a blurry line between a funny and edgy joke and an offensive joke, and there always has been. But just the fact that people are thinking about this and talking about it is a good thing.