Friday, October 8th, 2010

Why Are Comedies Still Using Gay Jokes?

I noted back when I first posted the trailer to Ron Howard's upcoming Vince Vaughn/Kevin James vehicle The Dilemma that it opened with a pretty clunky gay joke. Anderson Cooper noted the same thing today, prompting Universal to not only cut it from the trailer, but to possibly cut it out of the movie altogether. That's good, but why did it take Anderson Cooper shaming them to get rid of it? Why was a gay joke there in the first place?

I still remember how shocked I was when I was first seeing The Hangover in theaters at Bradley Cooper's character shouting "Paging Dr. Faggot!" to Ed Helms' character. People laughed, but was it even a joke? The entire joke was that he called him a faggot. That was it. It was incredibly lazy, and I'd like to think someone as talented as Todd Phillips would be able to come up with a better line than that when he literally could have stuck in any insult in the world. But faggot made the cut.

As Anderson Cooper said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show today, "we've got to do something to make those words unacceptable because those words are hurting kids. Someone else I talked to recently said that the words people use and the things people say about other kids online, it enters into their internal dialogue."

And he's clearly right. Kids see movies and they pick up jokes and jargon from them. Hell, half of the "jokes" teenagers make to each other are merely lines from movies and TV shows repeated ad nauseum. So even if a joke seems relatively harmless, like the "electric cars are gay" line in the Dilemma trailer, it just reinforces that gay is an insult. It solidifies gay jokes and words like faggot in the common vernacular; it endorses the language just by using it.

So why are people like Ron Howard and Todd Phillips casually slipping gay jokes into their movies? I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that these aren't homophobes. They clearly don't think they're being all that offensive, and I'm not generally one to be the PC police when it comes to comedy. But when the gay jokes they're making are such half-assed, lazy jokes, jokes that could be much funnier if they didn't rely on stereotypes, you've just got to wonder what they're thinking.

Hopefully the embarrassment of having to publicly remove a shitty gay joke from a movie before it's even released will keep studios and filmmakers from relying on such material in the future. After all, there are always fat jokes they could be making instead.

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  • blazedshaggy

    Well it seems to me that joke Vince Vaughn used wasn't even directed to homosexuals. I mean he actually stated that in the movie trailer. And as for The Hangover, I'm pretty sure that film was directed to the 18 to 30 college/frat guy crowd. They pretty much use that language and terms all the time from what I've encountered so the "Dr. Faggot" term just seems to fall in right there with "let's do a keg stand" or "let's tea-bag the freshman".

    Don't get me wrong, if a movie was clearly throwing around derogatory terms and situations against a race or group of people, I would be upset and oppose it too. No one deserves to be ridiculed by the masses for something they can't control.

    But let's think for a minute, maybe the term "gay" was thrown in there so sharply at the beginning of the trailer to subliminally reinforce the fact of how much these two guys loved each other, which seemed to be the premise of the entire movie. I had to re-watch the trailer to remember what the gay joke was about but I definitely could remember the word "gay" being used. That joke plus a few other scenes seemed to drive the whole notion that these two guys were almost to the point of being each other's significant other. This just helps reinforce the movie's title "The Dilemma", since Vince's character didn't want to hurt his friend's feelings with the unfortunate news that his wife was cheating on him.

  • Sean Patrick Jackson

    I’m behind the ethos of the article, I really am, but I laughed pretty hard at that Hangover joke in the theater. It’s more than just what we see and hear, it’s a reference to our youths (and ties directly into maturity) when that sort of thing was commonplace, shaping the sort of adventure that they guys are about to have. Also, being called a non-man (in terms of skirt-chasing, beer drinking, mma-fighting being ideation of male normative) in front of your wife is always cringeworth; multiply this cringe across 200 seats in a theater, add in several dashes of awkward, and you have funny. That’s really just how we’re programmed (in terms of mass comedy). Which is important to note, because you don’t win any fight that deals with mimetic information by limiting information, not exactly: you win by educating people as much as possible. You talk about why we laugh, you talk about words, and how words literally shape the world we live in. Taking a word out of a trailer my strike some people as a victory, but it couldnt be a bigger defeat, because now you never have the conversation as a nation; you may have fixed yet another leak in the pipe, but these pipes as a whole are bad, and by not telling everyone all the time the pipes are bad, you do everyone a disservice by convincing people through a (lack of words) that the status quo is fine. Much like Christine O’Donnel wanting to make masturbation illegal (or something like that?), you can’t legislate against how people are, it never works, and it’s the easy way out (in that it’s ‘easy’ because it sounds like a solution but doesn’t ‘work’); of course, actually limiting negative behavior requires the society as a whole to up its general education, but, hey, that’s too hard, so lets start censoring things. You’ve won when something stops being funny, not when you have to remove it. A kid that gets bullied and makes national news has the potential to change more minds and start more conversation than removing a simple word from a movie, so that those bullies, now disabused of a word, find more creative and subtle ways to torment said kid. The very USE of the term says more about the audience than it does about the film, but hey, liberals tend to revel in palliative victories.

  • a.nye.123

    "People laughed, but was it even a joke? The entire joke was that he called him a faggot. That was it."

    But that wasn't it – the joke is clearly that his partner has called his friends immature, he is about to rebut, then his friend interrupts with a very immature statement. The intended joke isn't 'Hurr hurr, he said faggot', but 'Hah, her criticism is valid'.

    Still, they could maybe have found a better word, I'm not sure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phillip-Schwarzmann/861340380 Phillip Schwarzmann


  • crl826

    What a.nye.123 sai