The Zach Galifianakis character (Alan Garner) in The Hangover uses the F-word (the six-letter one) that used to describe torched sticks for witch/heretic-burning, later as an “old or unpleasant woman,” and then a derogatory term for gay.
Well, context is everything and it’s been argued that the word gay associated with an electric car is a greater insult than the F-word (version two) describing a hen-pecked dentist by The Hangover’s socially awkward Garner.
Last year, The Hangover criticisms included “misogynistic undertones,” Asian stereotyping and the word retard. Nothing about gay insensitivity got traction. .
After hearing all sides of the controversy, producer-director Ron Howard late Friday said that he has decided to keep the gay joke in his upcoming film.
“I believe in sensitivity but not censorship,” Howard said according to the Los Angeles Times.
Vince Vaughn (who’s no one’s Tea Partyist), came under much criticism when he released a statement defending the gay joke line (that he delivered) in The Delimma.
Howard said that the line was in the script, not improvised by Vaughn, and that the character “is far from perfect and he does and says some outrageous things along the way.”
The gay watchdog group, GLAAD criticized the gay reference in Howard’s film and helped nudge Universal Pictures to re-edit Dilemma’s TV trailer that excised the offensive line. “Hopefully in the future,” GLADD’s president said, “Universal and Ron Howard will recognize the power of their words and use their films to bring people together rather than drive us apart.”
If and when director Quentin Tarrentino has a bigoted character using the N-word, it’s understood that the bigot is “far from perfect,” and “demonstrate(s) an aspect of (the) lead character’s personality.”
Howard long ago established his liberal credentials. When he explains that the controversial line is “a slight moment in The Dilemma which was 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,” he has the standing in the progressive community to have his voice heard without media or Hollywood ridicule.
Whether Howard’s decision will stand in the public square should flesh out this coming week.