Did you think it wasn’t offensive? 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. 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.
After a bit of an outcry in response to a gay joke in the trailer to Ron Howard’s upcoming The Dilemma, the joke was cut from the trailer. It’s being kept in the movie itself, however. Now, Ron Howard has responded, defending his use of the joke. Here’s a bit from his statement on it:
OK, Ron. But that’s a copout.
Let’s be honest here: you having Vince Vaughn call electric cars gay is not some sort of brave choice that creates a deep and nuanced trailer. When was the last time Vince Vaughn played a complex, emotion-stirring character? No disrespect, as he’s a very funny comedic actor, but Peter O’Toole he ain’t.
And sure, a character can be a lout in a movie, a character can say awful and offensive things. Obviously that’s been the case with a whole slew of characters. But this isn’t a villain in the film, its your hero. Vaughn is great at playing the everyman, a relatable dude who stands in for the audience. And to have him offhandedly make gay jokes doesn’t make him a complex and flawed character, it makes those gay jokes acceptable by being said by a likable actor playing a character you’re supposed to get behind.
Now, I haven’t seen the movie, so I could be being unfair here. Perhaps Vaughn’s character is called out for being insensitive and making shitty gay jokes, and he learns to grow as a person because of it. But I doubt it, and according to people who’ve read the script, it’s never addressed or called out at all. Let’s face it: based on the trailer, you know what you’re gonna get here.
So while it’s easy to say that you’re making complex characters who hold opinions that you don’t necessarily agree with, the fact of the matter is that by creating a likable hero in a movie who just so happens to casually drop gay jokes with no repercussions, you’re validating such jokes. And that’s a pretty shitty thing to do.