Carl Kozlowski at Big Hollywood hails Ron Howard’s new film The Dilemma as “an instant classic for the conservative comedy lover,” so it’s fitting that some leftists don’t think it’s so funny. Rob Shuter reports that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is blaming the movie’s less than stellar opening weekend on a joke about electric cars being gay:
“Although there are a million reasons why a film can fail, we hope that Ron Howard and Universal will recognize from this that alienating audiences isn’t a recipe for success,” said Herndon Graddick, deputy director of programs at GLAAD, who oversees GLAAD’s work with TV networks and film studios.
Back in October, CNN’s Anderson Cooper started a firestorm when he said he was offended by a movie trailer he had seen wherein an actor repeatedly used the word “gay” in a derogatory way.
“I was shocked that not only they put it in the movie, but that they thought that it was OK to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it,” he told Ellen DeGeneres without naming the movie. “I just find those words, those terms, we’ve got to do something to make those words unacceptable cause those words are hurting kids.”
Both Howard (not exactly a right-winger) and star Vince Vaughn (a Republican) have defended the joke, with Howard noting that his movie is “a comedy for grown-ups, not kids” and that if “storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought.” Vaughn says that “joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together,” but “[d]rawing divided lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us.”
Stereotypes have always been a part of comedy, and if the average American cared enough about one lighthearted, relatively innocuous one to sink an otherwise-good movie, then one wonders how equal-opportunity lampooners like Jeff Dunham (who has a similar running gag about the Toyota Prius) have managed to stay afloat. The answer is that most viewers are smarter and more well-adjusted than hand-wringers like GLAAD give them credit for—they know stereotypes when they see them and know they’re not meant to be taken seriously.
But while we’re on the subject of respect for moviegoers’ personal sensibilities, where’s the outrage over anti-Christian themes in entertainment, much of which aren’t comedic, but are meant to be taken seriously? V for Vendetta depicted a Great Britain ruled by a theocratic, homophobic, Islamophobic police state. Comedy Central ran a mock trial to determine who was more evil: Oprah Winfrey or the Catholic Church. This sort of thing has been going on for a good long while, with nary a peep about “unacceptable” or “gratuitously offensive” content. Are Christians assumed to be more thick-skinned than gays? Or simply more deserving of insult and humiliation?
Part of the problem with left-wing minority interest groups like GLAAD or the NAACP is that, for them to remain relevant, it can never be admitted that bigotry is effectively dead; fights must continually be picked and new offenses must perpetually be sought. And if you’re dead set on finding something, you can usually find it anywhere.