Earlier this month, Universal Studios removed Vince Vaughn’s line “electric cars are gay” from the trailer for The Dilemma, after Anderson Cooper, among others, noted that the line, which opened the trailer, was homophobic and offensive. GLAAD stated that director Ron Howard and Universal Pictures are “contributing to the problem of discrimination against the gay community, especially during a time when bullying seems to be on the rise.” But, yesterday, Ron Howard said he’s keeping the line in the film:
“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. So why was the joke in the movie? [Vaughn’s character] has a mouth that sometimes gets him into trouble and he definitely flirts with the line of what’s okay to say. This Ronny Valentine character can be offensive and inappropriate at times and those traits are fundamental to his personality and the way our story works. He tries to do what’s right but sometimes falls short. Who can’t relate to that?”
If Howard is saying the line is indicative of his character’s idiocy, sure, fine, whatever. Keep it. But the real problem is that Howard’s character’s idiocy is still supposed to be endearing and funny to mainstream audiences — endearing and funny enough to open the trailer with — ‘cause, you know, homophobia is hilarious and cute, apparently. Especially coming from bros “trying to do what’s right.” The problem is not the line, it’s that these kinds of characters are consistently supposed to be endearing — “relatable,” for their gay jokes, according to Howard — when they’re actually just being idiots. Howard continues:
“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. And what do [I] have against electric cars anyway? Nothing! We have a couple of them in our family including the one I primarily and happily drive. Guess what that makes me in the eyes of our lead character?”
Er, stay true to your vision. But Howard is apparently still not getting that the real problem with the joke is just that it isn’t funny.