Brett Ratner: What the Industry Is Saying
On Tuesday, as The Hollywood Reporter first reported, Brett Ratner announced he was stepping down as producer of the Oscars after his use of a homophobic slur.
"It was a dumb way of expressing myself," he said in a statement. "Everyone who knows me knows that I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words.
Ratner had been named as the producer of the 2012 Academy Awards show, but he has been under fire for making a series of ill-judged remarks in recent days, including saying "rehearsal is for fags" and discussing his sex life with Howard Stern. Ratner went on Stern's radio show Monday amid the growing controversy over his first remark made at Hollywood's ArcLight theater Friday night. He also discussed an intimate relationship with actress Olivia Munn during his Tower Heist press tour.
But, while he may have removed himself from the Oscar's equation, his comments have created a larger conversation about the attitude of both the industry and the academy towards the use of prejudiced language.
"Not having him in charge of the Oscars doesn't need to be about hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, or even gasping in shock," writes NPR's Linda Holmes.
"It should be done with a dispassionate shrug. "We aren't looking for a producer with this vision of what public behavior is supposed to look like, because the Oscars telecast is a brand that isn't consistent with that." It doesn't have to be a scandal. It's simple cause and effect. The cause is choosing to get attention with swaggering insults aimed at people you think other people secretly think it's cool and funny to insult. The effect is that you can't be the producer of a show that relies on the goodwill and participation of those same people."
"Perhaps the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences thinks it has inoculated itself against exposure to homophobia, but we’d ask, have they forgotten “Delirious,” Mr. Murphy’s famously scabrous rant against all things gay?" writes the New York Times' Media Decoder blog. "And no, we aren’t posting a clip, thank you. Mr. Ratner, whose coarseness is legendary, seems positively refined by contrast."
Adding, "The Academy’s quick retreat from Mr. Ratner — who was being relied on to assemble the stars, acts and movie lore behind the show — means that it now has no film-oriented producer less than four months before the show and a host who is hardly bulletproof when it comes to charges of homophobia. Cue slippery slope."
Actor Jeffery Self wrote for the Huffington Post, "This is what I have to say to Mr. Ratner: Maybe your bones aren't prejudiced, but your mouth seems to be, and that's a serious problem for which you need help.I don't think you get to say a word like that and expect us to let it go. You don't get to apologize for both using that word and making a false statement about Olivia Munn in the same breath. Saying you lied about Olivia Munn isn't sending a message of hate from the producer of the Academy Awards to some scared gay teen in Kentucky, but the other thing you said is."