In The Hangover, an otherwise funny film that is currently #1 at the box office, moviegoers are greeted within the first ten minutes by an unwelcome and offensive string of anti-gay jokes.
Right off the bat, Phil (Bradley Cooper) refers to to texting as "gay." Minutes later, the friends park in front of Stu's (Ed Helms) house and Phil calls for his friend by yelling for "Dr. F****t!" Apparently, this meant to be a reference to the fact that mild-mannered Stu is constantly beaten down by his controlling girlfriend.
From there, the friends head to Vegas, and the remaining 80 or so minutes of The Hangover are filled with hilarious R-rated humor without another anti-gay joke to be heard. Why then did the filmmakers get lazy and go for the easy anti-gay jokes when the bulk of the film worked well without them?
It is disappointing that The Hangover's writers could think of nothing better than to use anti-gay slurs for a few cheap laughs. Words and images matter, and this unfunny shot at gay people sends a problematic message that using these kind of vulgar slurs is acceptable. Beyond the message that it sends to non-LGBT audiences, LGBT people should be able to go to the movies without fear of hearing this kind of denigrating language.
In recent years, a growing number of filmmakers have been releasing high-quality R-rated comedies, such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the gay-inclusive I Love You, Man, that manage to be successful without making mean-spirited jokes at the expense of the LGBT community. The Hangover had the potential to be among that group, and it's a shame that an otherwise funny film had to resort to such a tactic.