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Universal is pulling the current trailer for “The Dilemma,” starring Vince Vaughn, amid an outcry over its use of the word “gay” as a pejorative.
The studio said Friday morning that it will replace the trailer by the end of the day. “The teaser trailer for ‘The Dilemma’ was not intended to cause anyone discomfort. In light of growing claims that the introduction to the trailer is insensitive, it is being replaced. A full trailer, which has been in the works for some time, will post online later today,” the studio said.
The studio has not yet decided what it will do about the scene in the movie itself, although given the public outcry, it’s not likely the “gay” reference will appear in the film, directed by Ron Howard.
Neither Howard nor his production company Imagine Entertainment, which produced with Vaughn’s Wild West Picture Show Prods., commented on the situation, referring calls to Universal.
Even as Uni was announcing its decision, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation denounced the trailer for the comedy, which is scheduled for release Jan. 14.
“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,” GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios said.
The issue first surfaced earlier this week on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show “Anderson Cooper 360,” which has been conducting a week-long series on bullying, following a series of suicides by gay teens.
On Monday night’s broadcast, Cooper mentioned that he was surprised to see the word “gay” used for a gratuitous laugh line in the trailer, and CNN legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin seconded that opinion.
During a subsequent appearance on “Ellen,” Cooper singled out the film again, saying, “”I was sitting in a movie theater over the weekend and there was a preview of a movie, and in it, the actor said, ‘that’s so gay,” 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 okay to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it.”
In “Dilemma,” Vaughn plays Kevin James’ best friend, and the title refers to the quandry he finds himself when, suspecting James’ wife is having an affair, he has to decide whether to tell his friend or not.
The opening scene of the controversial trailer is set in a board room where Vaughn is delivering a presentation about electric cars and says, “Electric cars are gay. I mean not homosexual gay, but my-parents-are-chaperoning the dance gay.”
The trailer first appeared in theaters two weeks ago, and debuted online several days before that.
Initially, the trailer did not raise alarms. It had been seen by several gay executives at the studio and also sent to GLAAD for its review.
It’s unclear how quickly GLAAD raised an objection. GLAAD said Friday that after Universal sent it a link to the trailer, GLAAD called on the studio to remove the scene. However, according to studio sources, it did not immediately hear from GLAAD, but after receiving some complaints about the trailer, called the gay organization directly and had a discussion about altering the trailer. According to the same sources, plans were underway to make a change to the trailer before Cooper raised the issue.
While a new trailer will appear online today, the studio said it would replace the trailer currently in theaters as quickly as possible.
Although Hollywood studios have generally steered clear of derogatory portrayals of gays in recent years, “that’s-so-gay” jokes have become a staple of a lot of mainstream comedies.
In 2005’s “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” for example, the characters played by Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan engaged in a comic riff, calling each other gay for things like macrame jean shorts and liking the band Cold Play. While such humor could be defended as an expose of gay panic, critics that it also perpetuates what has become a schoolyard taunt — although before the current focus on bullying behavior aimed at young gays, it has generally escaped criticism.
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