Monday, November 1, 2010


For those of you that follow this sort of Hollywood thing (I don't), I did happen to see the controversy surrounding Director Ron Howard this week. Evidently, he is directing a new movie in which a character states, "electric cars are gay."

Well, no surprise, there is public outcry. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, as well as celebs (Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres) are raising a protest.

Ron Howard defended his position stating that it came from the mouth of a character and he was using the line to help show what kind of character this was (a rather crude one). He says that the line comes from a fictional character and doesn't reflect his personal feelings. He says he "believes in sensitivity, not censorship."

I'd be interested in other author's take on this. I often have characters in my novels say and do things that I consider offensive. And yes, I do this to offer insight into what type of people they are. I certainly don't want it assumed that I am condoning a certain position just because I have a character mouth off about something controversial.

But, of course, we've all had letters from readers that show they just don't get this. Someone is likely to be offended if our characters say anything off-color (my wife's church librarian years ago used to take black magic marker and obliterate every gosh and darn prompting the youth to hold the pages up to the light to attempt to read the censored words!) or lift a Budweiser to their lips.

I don't condone cussing. Or excessive drinking. But my characters regularly get out of hand and misbehave.

And I love getting them into this trouble so that they can find REDEMPTION.

So, as for Ron Howard's dilemma, I'm going to side with him. GLAAD should get a life. A fictional character saying something offensive says something about the character, not the one who wrote it.

What do you think? Should Howard have caved and pulled the remark?

Should we?

Harry Kraus


  1. I'm a reader, not an author, and I think you are right on target. I was alternately amused and irritated a couple of years ago when a lot of Christian blog reviewers got all bent out of shape about a novel because the character used colorful language. The character was a hardened police officer! The language was not gratuitous and was appropriate to the character.

    I also find it astonishing that people have to publicly air every little grievance and offense they have that someone does. And the antidote to that is what struck me at the end of your post, the last word before your name. GRACE!

  2. Right on! Trying to write a story without colourful characters is like trying to paint with only grey in the palate. We want to represent real life characters, their struggles and hopefully, their redemption. If they never sin, they can't be redeemed.

  3. No one wants to read a book about perfect people living perfect lives. We want books with drama, intrigue and yes characters who sometimes don't make the best choices that they need to find their way back from!

    My characters often do and say things that I don't "agree" with. For people to love them they have to be fallible and relatable and not be their best self all of the time. Just liike me!

  4. Wow. The whole controversy is ridiculously narrow on the part of those protesting. Of course characters say and do things that are offensive. This happens on a regular basis, aznd dare I say we wouldn't have much left in terms of a story if there wasn't some conflict! If GLAAD is successful it could open up a whole floodgate of censorship issues that could send us all back to the middle ages. As Christians, we want to be free to speak our minds and include characters in our stories that speak theirs, too.

  5. Often the people who complain the loudest have not read or understood the book (or in this case, seen the movie.) Huck Finn has been condemned for racism because it uses the N word even though the whole point of the book is anti-racist.

  6. I absolutely agree - good for Ron for not caving. I'm really tired of the narrow-mindedness that seems to be rampant on all sides of the fence, every organization - there is nothing you can write about these days that will not cause somebody somewhere to get their kinickers in a twist. Yes, I said knickers. If you are a writer, the best thing you can do is write from the heart and stay true to your characters. You will find readers who appreciate honesty over hogwash, and they'll stick with you because you're filling the gap. We're not living in CandyLand. Just turn on the news or read the paper. Or talk to your next door neighbours. If we have no sin then we have no need for a Savior. And that, in my opinion, is not much of a story.
    Rant over. :)