Vince Vaughn and Ron Howard are under fire after the release of a controversial trailer

By Adam B. Vary
October 15, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Ladies and gentleman, electric cars are gay.” These seven words, spoken by Vince Vaughn in the first trailer for the comedy The Dilemma (out Jan. 14), were supposed to be funny, but no one is laughing. After requests from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and a disapproving comment last week from Anderson Cooper while discussing anti-gay bullying on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Universal Pictures agreed to pull the trailer and replace it with one missing the offending joke, noting in a statement that the teaser was ”not intended to cause anyone discomfort.”

Actually, that’s not quite the point. Hollywood has long made a cottage industry out of buddy comedies with loutish dudes spouting frat-boy inanities. Last year, the very funny The Hangover featured some very unfunny ”f—- t” jokes, raking in $277 million without a peep of controversy. It’s rare, though, for a studio marketing team to use a that’s so gay joke as a selling point. GLAAD has since called for Universal to excise the scene from the finished film, but the studio has given no answer either way. (The studio and Vaughn declined to comment; director Ron Howard was unavailable.) Regardless, maybe now filmmakers will think, Hmm, this gay joke isn’t such a good idea — before they start shooting.