The good news is that mainstream movies are slowly getting better about including well-rounded, fully realized gay characters in movies. The bad news is that there are still a lot of movies that treat being queer as a punch line, and even more that use gay panic as a way of grossing out the audience.
In a speech at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, Sony co-chair Amy Pascal urged her colleagues to avoid falling into the easy trap of using gay stereotypes for a cheap laugh, pointing out that it sends a severely mixed message to LGBT youth who, quite frankly, probably have enough shit to deal with without Jim Carrey freaking out because he kissed a trans woman.
"How about next time, when any of us are reading a script and it says words like fag, or faggot – homo – dyke – take a pencil and just cross it out. Just don’t do it."
Her prepared speech was informed, sweeping, compassionate, and clear. She began her talk by recognizing visual media’s power to entrench values, particularly to children and young adults.
"I’m talking about kids who are gay and I’m talking about kids who aren’t gay. One group needs affirmation and the other group needs education. And, if I’m being honest, neither of those issues are high on any movie studio or TV network’s agenda.”
Granted, this butts up against freedom of speech, but to be honest here, no one really needs to use the word “faggot” any more than a bullied gay kid needs to not hear it. Not using the other F-bomb isn’t really a huge loss for anyone. If anything, it’s a crutch word, and the sooner we stop using it for shock-value, the better.