Moviemaker Ron Howard has defended his decision to keep a controversial joke in new comedy "The Dilemma" after he was slammed by gay rights activists over the line.
The upcoming film caused uproar earlier this month when a promotional trailer was released. The clip featured Vince Vaughn's character telling a room of people, "Ladies and gentlemen, electric cars... are gay."
Bosses at Universal Pictures agreed to pull the line from the advert, but officials at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) called on studio chiefs to axe the scene from the movie, in light of a recent spate of gay teen suicides across America.
Howard refused to bow to pressure and in a letter to the Los Angles Times on Friday, the director explained his reasoning to keep the line in the film.
In the note, he writes, "The Dilemma is a comedy for grown-ups, not kids. It's true that the moment took on extra significance in light of some events that surrounded the release of the trailer and the studio made the decision to remove it from advertising, which I think was appropriate. I believe in sensitivity but not censorship.
"I don't strip my films of everything that I might personally find inappropriate. Comedy or drama, I'm always trying to make choices that stir the audience in all kinds of ways. If storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought."
GLAAD chiefs are unhappy with the inclusion of the line in the final cut of the film - and President Jarrett Barrios has urged Howard and movie chiefs to "bring people together" with the content of future releases.
He tells The Hollywood Reporter, "Unfortunately, by leaving it in the movie, they are now contributing to the problem. The conversations started as a result of the community's response to this slur will help schools, media and parents understand the impact of the word 'gay' being used as a pejorative.
"Hopefully in the future, Universal and Ron Howard will recognise the power of their words and use their films to bring people together rather than drive us apart."