Sometimes taking a stand means siding with a pretty lame joke, and such is the case for Ron Howard who in the name of comedic expression, will be keeping the “electric cars are gay” joke in his upcoming “The Dilemma.”
As you might recall, the gag caused a minor stir when Anderson Cooper highlighted its use in early trailers of the film as an example of how language is used by anti-gay bullies to put down their victims. The gag was ultimately cut from trailers for the film, but GLAAD demanded the scene be axed from the film altogether. Vince Vaughn then weighed in saying that comedy should be an equal opportunity offender and then everyone sort of forgot about the issue and moved on with their lives.
Well, Ron Howard has delivered the final verdict on the gag, and responding to some questions by Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times, he explains why he’s decided to keep the joke in the film and why it was there in the place. Here’s an excerpt from his much lengthier response:
So why was the joke in the movie? Our lead character of Ronny Valentine has a mouth that sometimes gets him into trouble and he definitely flirts with the line of what’s okay to say. He tries to do what’s right but sometimes falls short. Who can’t relate to that? I am drawn to films that have a variety of characters with different points of view who clash, conflict and learn to live with each other. THE DILEMMA is a story full of flawed characters whose lives are complicated by the things they say to and hide from each other. Ronny is far from perfect and he does and says some outrageous things along the way.
Was it in the script or was it a Vince Vaughn ad lib? Vince is a brilliant improvisational actor, but in this case it was always in the script. THE DILEMMA is a comedy for grown-ups, not kids. 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 the advertising, which I think was appropriate. I believe in sensitivity but not censorship. I feel that our film is taking additional heat as an emblem for many movies and TV shows that preceded it that have even more provocative characterizations and language. It is a slight moment in THE DILEMMA meant to demonstrate an aspect of our lead character’s personality, and we never expected it to represent our intentions or the point of view of the movie or those of us who made it.
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.
So there you have it. We’re mostly offended that Vince Vaughn’s character in a romantic comedy is named Ronny Valentine. At any rate, you can see the electric cars are gay joke in context when the film opens on January 14, 2011 but we have a feeling it will be the least of that picture’s problems.