Ron Howard Refuses to Remove Gay Joke from Vince Vaughn Film

GLAAD and Anderson Cooper teamed up to get the reference removed from the comedy, but the director refuses to budge

Ron Howard's upcoming comedy, The Dilemma, turned out to be just that for the director.  In early October, Universal Pictures (the studio releasing the movie) agreed to remove a line in which a character refers to something as "gay" after GLAAD and Anderson Cooper spoke out against the use of the term.  But it turns out the director is not in agreement.

The trailer was released in the midst of the tragic string of gay teen suicides, which prompted GLAAD and Cooper to voice their concerns. GLAAD released a statement which read: "The use of the word 'gay' in this trailer as a slur is unnecessary and does nothing more than send a message of intolerance about our community to viewers."

Cooper, 43, shared his disapproval with his viewers. "We've got to do something to make those words unacceptable, because those words are hurting kids," he said.

While the line has been removed from the preview, Howard, 56, has opted not to take it out of the flick (which stars Vince Vaughn and Kevin James). In a letter to the Los Angeles Times' blog The Big Picture, Howard explains his stance. "(Vaughn's character) 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?"

Howard goes on to write that it was "appropriate" to remove the joke from the ads, "in light of some events that surrounded the release of the trailer." But, he goes to on argue, "The Dilemma is a comedy for grown-ups, not kids." The movie is slated to hit theaters on Jan. 14, 2011.

"We never expected (the joke) to represent our intentions or the point of view of the movie or those of us who made it," the Oscar-winning director continues. "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."

"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. I defend the right for some people to express offense at a joke as strongly as I do the right for that joke to be in a film. But if storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and provoker of thought."

Vaughn, 40, had a similar reaction to the news. He told Deadline.com that while he will show his support for those who have been affected by bullying, he agrees with Howard. "Comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together," he said. "Drawing dividing lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us. Most importantly, where does it stop?"

Which side do you fall on The Dilemma debate? Chime in below!

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