People make mistakes. That was the name of a really great song on the totally fantastic, trippy, magical 1980s children's television show Zoobilee Zoo. In it, Ben Vereen played a leopard, and the lady who played Talkatoo Cockatoo became my first gay icon.
I make a lot of stupid mistakes and say a lot of stupid things, but what Brett Ratner said last weekend is more than a mistake, and it's more than stupid.
In case you haven't heard, according to the Tower Heist director and this year's Oscar producer, "rehearsal is for fags."
Mr. Ratner, appropriately, apologized for his ignorant statement, but I'm having a hard time brushing this one off. I would think that someone as successful and experienced in a media interview as Mr. Ratner would know better than to say something this outrageous, especially since we've spent the past couple of years rightfully calling out other celebrities for the same sort of stupidity. I am curious as to how a guy without, as he puts it, "a prejudice bone" in his body can let a word like that simply roll off the tongue. This is what I have to say to Mr. Ratner:
Maybe your bones aren't prejudiced, but your mouth seems to be, and that's a serious problem for which you need help.
I don't think you get to say a word like that and expect us to let it go. You don't get to apologize for both using that word and making a false statement about Olivia Munn in the same breath. Saying you lied about Olivia Munn isn't sending a message of hate from the producer of the Academy Awards to some scared gay teen in Kentucky, but the other thing you said is.
Now, Mr. Ratner, in some ways you actually have a point. I know a lot of gay people who love rehearsal, me included. When I was growing up, I used to count down the hours until evening play practice at the Rome Little Theater, because for this little gay guy, it was the only time of day that I actually fit in and felt normal, happy, and supported by my peers. For me, rehearsal was one of the only places I wasn't called a fag. Play practice or, rather, rehearsal, was one of the places where I learned that the world was filled with all kinds of loving people and that I could be different and accepted. So, yeah, in some ways, Mr. Ratner, you've got a great point: rehearsal, sometimes, is exactly what a fag needs.
That said, I don't think that's what you meant. I also don't think you meant to cut down an entire population of people with a derogatory term that is universally recognized as terrible, offensive, disgusting, ignorant, and bigoted, because I don't think you're as stupid as that. However, that's exactly what you did.
Despite being disgusted by your statement, I accept your apology, Mr. Ratner, but I don't think that's enough. I think you owe more than a press-release apology to all the gay kids out there in the world who might have read what you said and might be looking forward to play practice tonight. You're a rich man, and there are a lot of important LGBT organizations that could use your help. If I were you, I'd spend some time this week (and how about some of that money you made off Tower Heist -- congrats, by the way!) helping a few of those organizations out and showing the world that you didn't mean that disgustingly ignorant thing you said, that you don't in fact have a prejudeced bone in your body. A man as rich as you could really do wonders aiding our country's struggling gay youth by just writing a couple of checks; it's almost as easy as making a horribly offensive and hurtful statement about those same people. Aren't you going to be working with Bruce Vilanch in a couple of months? I'm sure he'd appreciate it, too.
I genuinely don't believe you're a bad guy, and I genuinely hope you'll take some time to spread truth to the world, that a) rehearsal is for everyone who wants to rehearse (ask Helen Mirren, dude), and b) far more importantly, you shouldn't use a gay slur or throw an entire community of people under the bus for a joke that isn't funny and doesn't even make sense to begin with.
There are thousands and thousands of people devoting their lives to making sure gay folks across the world aren't called words like the one you used. Maybe you didn't mean it, but you said it, and now you owe more than an apology to our community and to the kids of the world whose minds and hearts are affected by cruel words like the one you used. The gay rights movement and the millions of children, teenagers, and adults it directly affects are far too important to be crapped upon by the guy who directed Rush Hour 2, and luckily for the world, it won't be.
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