Is Vince Vaughn ‘gay’ joke in The Dilemma disguised anti-gay bigotry?
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, without naming names but apparently referring to Vince Vaughn’s upcoming comedy The Dilemma, complained about the negative use of the word “gay” while discussing anti-gay bullying with Ellen DeGeneres on her show.
“There was a preview of a movie, and in it, the actor said, ‘That’s so gay,’” Cooper told DeGeneres, “and I was shocked that not only that they put it in the movie, but that they put that in the preview. They thought that it was OK to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it.”
The Dilemma trailer begins with Vaughn’s character telling a group of suits, among them, of all people, Queen Latifah: “Ladies and gentleman, electric cars [pause] are gay.”
The executives, who didn’t know cars had sex with one another, look confused.
“I mean, not homosexual gay,” Vaughn clarifies, “but you know, my parents were chaperoning the dance – gay.” In other words, something unappealing, undesirable, unwelcome.
“I just find those words, those terms, we’ve got to do something to make those words unacceptable ’cause those words are hurting kids,” Cooper explained. “Someone else I talked to recently said that the words people use and the things people say about other kids online, it enters into their internal dialogue. And when you’re a kid, it can change the way you see yourself and the way you think about yourself, and the worth that you give to yourself. I think we need to really focus on what language we’re using and how we’re treating these kids.”
Cooper added: “It’s incredible when you realize how commonly the term ‘that’s so gay’ is among kids today. It’s used not just against kids that are gay or lesbian, it’s used as an insult to anybody in this day and age among kids and that’s something that has to stop.”
It’ll be ironic if, when The Dilemma opens in January 2011, people refer to it as “totally gay.” But that probably won’t happen. Considering how stupid and vulgar it looks and sounds, it’ll probably become an even bigger hit than Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups.
The Dilemma was directed by Ron Howard – the same guy who brought you Frost / Nixon – written by Allan Loeb (is the “gay” line his?), and co-stars Kevin James, Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly (who won her Oscar for Howard’s A Beautiful Mind), Academy Award nominee Winona Ryder, and Channing Tatum.
Anderson Cooper quotes via EW.com.
Vince Vaughn: ‘The Dilemma’ Gay Joke ‘Breaks Tension and Brings Us Together’
Oct. 16 update: Vince Vaughn in The Dilemma with Queen Latifah.
The Dilemma‘s Vince Vaughn is probably not responsible for the fact that the derogatory #stopthatthatsgay was one of the top ten worldwide trending topics on Twitter on Friday evening.
Nor is Vaughn, director Ron Howard, and screenwriter Allan Loeb responsible for the worldwide bullying of teenagers and children perceived as “different,” i.e., “gay” or “queer,” or for the low self-esteem / self-hatred that plague millions of young people attracted to members of the same sex. (Gay ghetto culture is probably as much at fault here as mainstream society’s bigotry.)
But Vaughn isn’t helping matters any when, in response to Anderson Cooper’s and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (website) criticisms, he asserts that the use of the word “gay” in The Dilemma – to imply something undesirable, unwelcome, obnoxious – is perfectly okay. (Universal has removed the line from the film’s trailer.)
“Let me add my voice of support to the people outraged by the bullying and persecution of people for their differences, whatever those differences may be,” Vaughn was quoted as saying in a statement.
He then adds that “comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together. Drawing divided lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us. Most importantly, where does it stop.”
Where indeed. So, the question is: If instead of “gay” the “comedy and joking about our differences” featured a line that read “That’s so Mexican” – not “Mexican” as in South of the Border, mind you, but “Mexican” as in undesirable, unwelcome, obnoxious – would Vaughn, director Howard, and screenwriter Loeb find it “breaks tension” to have such funny hah-hah line in The Dilemma?
Replace “Mexican” with “black” or “Jewish” or “Muslim” or “Christian” or take-your-pick. Would any of those be acceptable?
If the answer is no, then Vaughn, Howard, Loeb, and the Universal honchos are a bunch of hypocrites. If the answer is yes, then Vaughn’s character is a jerk who deserves a nasty comeuppance – perhaps hooking up with Kevin James before the final fadeout?
Update: Ron Howard’s The Dilemma turned out to be a global box office dud.
Vince Vaughn quote: E!Online.
Queen Latifah and Vince Vaughn The Dilemma movie image: Universal Pictures.