CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's increasing crusade against any negative usage of the word "gay" is now reverberating in Hollywood. In an appearance Thursday on the talk show of Ellen DeGeneres, Cooper expressed astonishment that anyone would use "gay" with a negative connotation, and he'd even seen a movie trailer (which he didn't name) that committed this offense. E! Online reports:
Universal Studios executives have decided to replace a trailer for Vince Vaughn's new comedy, The Dilemma, after CNN newsman Anderson Cooper blasted it for its negative use of the word "gay."
"The teaser trailer for The Dilemma was not intended to cause anyone discomfort," the studio statement said. "In light of growing claims that the introduction to the trailer is insensitive, it is being replaced. A full trailer, which has been in the works for some time, will post online later today."
The offending line is Vaughn selling an electric muscle car: "Ladies and gentlemen, electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual gay, but you know, 'My parents are chaperoning the dance,' gay." It's a lame line. But it's hardly grist for the suicide hotline. Apparently Cooper has more clout in Hollywood than the usual suspects: "Gay media watchdog group, GLAAD, said in a statement that it asked the studio to cut the Vaughn joke from the trailer about a month ago. They called it a "slur" that "is unnecessary and does nothing more than send a message of intolerance about our community to viewers."
When Ellen welcomed Cooper to show, she thanked him profusely for being out front on the bullying issue, and Cooper replied, “There’s a lot of intolerance in the world and that trickles down into schools.” That sounds just like Kathy Griffin's "trickle-down homophobia" attack line from Larry King Live.
Ellen deGeneres added that schools need more sensitivity training: "I honestly think we need course – just like math, just like history, just like English – there should be class of Compassion, for kids at a young age to start learning about compassion, and kindness, and understanding, um, that we’re all different, and accepting our difference. And I think that would be a great curriculum that kids learn in school if they don’t get it anywhere else.”
Cooper and de Generes agreed that phrases like “that’s so gay” and the gay F-bomb are commonplace on TV and at the movies. (In fact, the Ad Council runs an ad with Hollywood celebrities denouncing the phrase “That’s so gay.”) Cooper claimed he’s talked to so many kids where teachers allow the gay F-bomb to be used, “and that’s gotta stop, because these words have power, and they’re used like weapons.” Then came the part about the Vince Vaughn trailer:
I was sitting in a movie theater over the weekend and there was a preview of a movie, and in it, the actor said, 'that's so gay,' and I was shocked that not only that they put it in a movie, but that they thought that it was okay to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it. I just find those words, those terms - we've got to do something to change, to make those words unacceptable because those words are hurting kids.
And 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 when you're a kid, it can change the way you see yourself and the way you think about yourself - the worth that you give to yourself. And I think we really need to focus on what language we're using and how we're treating these kids.