Image Credit: Ray Tamarra/Getty ImagesJust when the controversy over the forthcoming Ron Howard comedy The Dilemma seemed to have faded away, the hullabaloo over the movie’s “gay gag” has flared up again, courtesy of the actor who gives voice to the offending line, Vince Vaughn. In a statement released to the media, the Wedding Crashers and Swingers star says: “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. Comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together. Drawing dividing lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us. Most importantly, where does it stop.”
Vaughn’s selectively worded statement makes conspicuous use of pop culture’s hot “B” word (“bullying” — the new codeword for “Homophobia is wrong.”) and comes down solidly against bigotry, which would seem to include hatred toward homosexuals. Good for him. I’m not sure, however, if anyone ever really thought The Dilemma’s trailer was promoting intolerance or bullying or persecution. I think the issue was more about thoughtlessness and callousness — and about shoddy marketing. By being too cosmic about this whole thing, we lose sight of some real and actually fixable issues. (But sure, let’s be cosmic about this, too. I’m all for finding any excuse to spark cultural conversation about ending homophobia and cultivating a society where homosexuals feel less threatened and marginalized in any way, large or small.)
Vaughn’s statement also strongly and rather self-righteously expresses the following: Support for freedom of speech, an aversion to censorship, and an idealistic view that comedy is a redemptive force, inherently inoffensive, and beyond social criticism. Okay, I might be assuming way too much about Vaughn’s philosophy of comedy based on his statement. But his statement is certainly provocative. His defense would seem to excuse anything and everything that could possibly be said and done in the name of “comedy.” Do you agree with that?
I don’t see what Vaughn’s statement has to do with the controversial line in question. How exactly does characterizing an automobile as gay — even in a “my parents are chaperoning the dance” way, not necessarily a “homosexual way” — break tension and bring people together? Presumably the movie will explain this. Which brings us to a point that needs to be made, and frankly, I am stunned Vaughn didn’t make it himself: We haven’t seen this movie yet! READ FULL STORY »