Universal Pictures decided to open the trailer for their new Ron Howard-directed feature The Dilemma with the phrase “Electric cars are gay” in an attempt at humor, but it's hardly a joke for LGBT audiences growing increasingly frustrated by use of the word “gay” as a pejorative. GLAAD expressed these concerns directly to Universal Pictures prior to the trailer's release, who have now assured us that the offensive joke will be removed from TV and Media campaigns promoting the film from this point forward, including the trailer currently playing in movie theaters.
Vince Vaughn’s character goes on to clarify that he doesn’t mean “homosexual, gay, but, you know, my parents are chaperoning the dance, gay,” but this justification doesn’t address the underlying problem. Regardless of the intention, hearing words like “gay,” “f*g,” and “d*ke” consistently used as insults is a hard thing for LGBT people to take, particularly for LGBT youth who must endure such language daily at school. As recent events have shown, the consequences can be devastating.
Said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios, “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.”
CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke out against the trailer as well, saying "I just find those words, those terms - we've got to do something to make those words unacceptable 'cause those words are hurting kids."
In an attempt to combat the use of such language, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) launched the Think B4 You Speak campaign. One of the campaign’s goals is to point out to young people that they might not like it so much if their own identities became another word for lame or stupid, as Wanda Sykes makes clear in this PSA.
Hopefully Universal Pictures and other film studios will start to think twice before having their performers (and major stars like Vince Vaughn in particular) try to wring a cheap laugh out of homophobic language.