Brett Ratner uses a gay slur and Hollywood just shakes its head in despair
Update: Academy stands by its man and GLAAD chimes in
Update: GLAAD has not sent out an official response yet to Ratner's comments, but here are their initial comments from a blog post this afternoon.
"This apology is a good start, but we're working with Ratner's people for more action, to clearly send a message to Hollywood that the anti-gay slurs used by bullies and bigots have no place in the world of entertainment, or anywhere else."
A GLAAD rep tells HitFix they hope to have a response later this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
More telling, Academy president Tom Sherak tells Deadline he's standing by Ratner, for now. Sherak is quoted saying, "His remarks were inappropriate. He said it best in his apology, that his comments were dumb and insensitive. When you think of our community, it went against all the beliefs of the creative community we represent. He knew it was wrong and he issued that response as quickly as any human being ever has. The bottom line is, this won’t and can’t happen again. It will not happen again. He apologized and we will move forward. How do I know this? I’ve known this man for a very long time. He has many friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. The apology he gave I truly believe comes from his heart. If it didn’t believe it, I would do something about it. This is about integrity and honoring the Academy Awards, but we all make mistakes and I believe he didn’t mean it.”
More on this story as news breaks.
Original post: 1:24 PM PST
Just when you thought Brett Ratner might make it through co-producing the Academy Awards without causing controversy or embarrassing himself (let alone the Academy), big Brett opens his big mouth and something idiotic comes out.
According to New York Magazine's Vulture and numerous twitter reports, Ratner appeared at a Q&A for his new movie "Tower Heist" at the Arclight cinemas this weekend and was asked a question by the moderator on whether he rehearses with his actors before a take. The "Rush Hour" helmer reportedly replied saying "Rehearsing is for fags" and dismissed the question with a wave of his hand. From those on hand it wasn't meant as a joke and was said matter of fact.
It's no secret Ratner has a frat boy reputation and his sex life is bizarrely discussed more than any other filmmaker of the modern era, but any homophobic tendencies haven't been public up until this point. Ratner provided a statement to the Wrap this morning saying:
"I apologize for any offense my remarks caused. It was a dumb way of expressing myself. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words."
What's most disheartening here isn't the fact Ratner considers himself a storyteller (don't get me started), but that in this age of teen suicides due to intense bullying he deemed his off the cuff comment as a "dumb way of expressing" himself. Even if it was primarily an adult audience, Ratner was in a public venue speaking on behalf of an expensive motion picture he directed. His number one responsibility would be to make sure he doesn't say anything offensive or detrimental to his work, let alone offensive to the audience. In 2011, it just never occurred to Ratner that using the word "fags" in a public setting wasn't acceptable. The fact he didn't even apologize or refer to his comment that night during the rest of the Q&A is the more startling faux pas here. And this, ladies and gentleman, is the man co-producing Hollywood's premier yearly event (often referred to as the "Gay Super Bowl").
Oh, and should we mention that at least four of the the co-producers over the past three years are openly gay men? Producer Laurence Mark, director Bill Condon, producer Bruce Cohen and producer and director Adam Shakman. Boy will that be a fun Oscar luncheon if Ratner is still around. Or how about all those gay men working on his marketing campaign for "Heist" at Universal? Or, who have helped cover his ass on film after film trying to make it look like he has some semblance of talent? Yes, all those gays and lesbians in Hollywood who helped make him rich must have loved reading that.
Grantland's Mark Harris is calling for Ratner's head, but AMPAS president Tom Sherak is unlikely to fire his controversial new producer (at least not yet). Ratner has already pulled off a coup by bringing in Eddie Murphy to host the show and this feels like an event they will hope will quickly be forgotten. Plus, if Ratner hadn't been brought on, the Academy literally had no one else in the movie business who wanted the job and might have found themselves - gasp - with a stage producer organizing the show with the returning Don Misher (another huge mistake, but we digress...).
To be frank, Ratner's public relations skills are so out of date something like this had to be expected at some point. And yes, as a gay man I'm offended by Ratner using the f-word, but, I mean, it's Brett Ratner. I'm not surprised. I'm not shocked. I'm just depressed a man who has shown so little talent keeps floating to the top and making a fool out of our industry and art form. That's the real reason Sherak should let him go as this year's Oscar producer.
What do you think?
For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.
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