Ron Howard Refuses to Remove ‘Gay’ Joke in ‘The Dilemma’

Ron Howard’s first public announcement that he intends to keep a controversial gay joke in his upcoming film The Dilemma has draw a renewed protest from GLAAD, the gay advocacy group that has targeted the film.

“I believe in sensitivity but not censorship,” Howard said in defense of his decision in a report by Los Angeles Times’ columnist Patrick Goldstein posted Friday evening.

Howard explained that the scene in which Vince Vaughn describes an electric car as “gay” was scripted, not ad libbed, and that it was intended to dramatize the fact that Vaughn’s character “is far from perfect and he does and says some outrageous things along the way.”

Arguing that Universal Pictures, which will release the comedy on Jan. 14, acknowledged the offensive nature of the joke when it removed it from trailers earlier this month, GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios said, “Unfortunately, by leaving it in the movie, they are now contributing to the problem. The conversations started as a result of the community’s response to this slur will help schools, media and parents understand the impact of the word ‘gay’ being used as a pejorative. Hopefully in the future, Universal and Ron Howard will recognize the power of their words and use their films to bring people together rather than drive us apart.”

In his defense, Howard described the joke as “a slight moment in The Dilemma which was meant to demonstrate an aspect of our lead character’s personality, and we never expected it to represent our intentions or the point of view of the movie or those of us who made it.”

He suggested, though, that eliminating potentially offensive jokes could neuter comedy. “I defend the right for some people to express offense at a joke as strongly as I do the right for the joke to be in a film,” he said.