Ron Howard isn't backing down.
Although a controversial "gay" joke (uttered by Vince Vaughn) was pulled from an ad campaign for his film The Dilemma, the director says the comment will remain in the film itself when it hits theaters Jan. 14.
Howard, 56, explained his decision in a Friday letter to L.A. Times' The Big Picture blog.
"[Vaughn's character] has a mouth that sometimes gets him into trouble and he definitely flirts with the line of what's okay to say. He tries to do what's right but sometimes falls short. Who can't relate to that?" Howard writes.
CNN's Anderson Cooper was the first to publicly object to the scene in which Vaughn, 40, quips: "Ladies and gentlemen, electric cars ... are gay."
Howard writes that it was "appropriate" to remove the scene from ads "in light of some events that surrounded the release of the trailer," referring to the recent, tragic spate of gay teen suicides. "The Dilemma is a comedy for grown-ups, not kids," Howard says.
"We never expected [the joke] to represent our intentions or the point of view of the movie or those of us who made it."
Does Howard find the "gay" joke offensive himself? "I don't strip my films of everything that I might personally find inappropriate," he writes. "Comedy or drama, I'm always trying to make choices that stir the audience in all kinds of ways. I defend the right for some people to express offense at a joke as strongly as I do the right for that joke to be in a film. But if storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and provoker of thought."
Earlier this month, actor Vaughn also argued for the joke to remain intact. Adding his "support" to those who've been persecuted or bullied, Vaughn told Deadline: "Comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together. Drawing dividing lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us. Most importantly, where does it stop."
Tell Us: Do you agree with Howard and Vaughn, or should the joke be removed from the film?