Brett Ratner almost manages half-apology for using gay slur

Brett Ratner — the man who brought you Rush Hour and will direct the 2012 Academy Awards — really stepped in it this weekend when, at a screen for his new film Tower Heist, he declared that "Rehearsal is for fags." (An attitude that goes a long way towards explaining the quality of his output! Thanks for clearing that up, Brett.) Apparently you don't just get to throw around gay slurs like an intellectually bankrupt tenth grader doing whippets behind a Hardee's anymore, so Ratner pretty quickly realized that he needed to do some form of damage control, maybe release a statement about how he was wrong to use such an offensive and ugly word at all, let alone in such a flippant manner, and he will work to strike it from his vocabulary or some such.

Instead, he said this:

I apologize for any offense my remarks caused. It was a dumb way of expressing myself. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words.

1. When you apologize "for any offense my remarks caused," you are not apologizing at all. That's like saying "I apologize for any injuries my swinging fist caused." You don't apologize for how other people react, you apologize for what you did. And if you don't think what you did is wrong — which is what such a statement makes it sound like, honestly — then just don't bother saying anything at all.

2. The point is that people don't know you, Brett, and so they don't know you lack prejudiced bones. To lots of people you're just the hack who made X-Men 3: The Last Stand, who is apparently also a jerk.

3. Just don't say the fucking word! Jesus, is that so hard?

Anyway, enjoy your time at the Oscars, buddy. I hope the fags don't make you rehearse too much.

Commentarium (36 Comments)

Nov 08 11 - 11:09am

I love how you follow "don't say the fucking word" with a sentence that contains the word. Maybe you should apologize if anybody was hurt for not noticing you were "being ironic".

Nov 08 11 - 11:38am
just a thought...

Well done, sir.

Nov 08 11 - 4:40pm

Fuck freedom of speech.

Nov 08 11 - 11:12am

Seems like a sincere explanation to me, even if it didn't meet Brady's subjective standard.

Nov 08 11 - 11:21am

Really? The most generic, half-assed Hollywood ass-covering -- "I'm sorry if you were, like, offended or something" -- seemed sincere to you? You need a better bullshit detector.

Nov 08 11 - 12:32pm

Agree with Publius. You people are being ridiculous about your standards for apologies.

Nov 08 11 - 2:38pm

I disagree. It's not just the Hollywood people, it's the politicians, the cops, the bankers, any damn person who gets called out on talking offensive crap. They never apologize for what they said or did, only if it caused offense, implying it's other people's fault for being offended and not "getting" them. Well there's an expression for that - weasel words.

Nov 11 11 - 8:29pm

What should he have said if he didn't believe he was making an anti-homosexual slur?

Nov 08 11 - 11:13am
just a thought...

The author's use of "Jesus" in this article as a profane exclamation could be construed as offensive to Christians. Or did the author spontaneously burst into prayer during bullet point #3? James, any comments?

Nov 08 11 - 11:23am
John Son

Nice. Though is saying Jesus's name, even in vain, the same as saying the Lord's name? I mean I know it's three-in-one and whatnot, but he is also the son of man. I mean, I'm sure he would forgive Brady in a second. Ergo, all is well.

Nov 08 11 - 2:38pm

Sure, I'll comment (I'm in a chatty mood): if you must know, I was raised Catholic and still attend mass for weddings, funerals, baptisms, and even the occasional holiday. So as a gay man from a Roman Catholic background, I feel comfortable saying that the way I've experienced the word "fag" and my reasons for being offended by its use in this context are not really comparable to the way I was using "Jesus" as an exclamation in that sentence.

Nov 09 11 - 10:17am
Yes, but

couldn't he make the same argument? And would you have accepted that? I'm not trying to start a fight, I do appreciate your explanation.

Nov 09 11 - 12:19pm

I certainly think he could. But there is something to be said for in-group vs. out-group use of certain terms, as much as that pisses some people off. Beyond that, I haven't heard "Jesus" used as a slur against me because of my religion. But I have heard "fag" used as a slur against me because I'm gay, sometimes accompanied with physical assaults. They simply aren't used in the same way, and to argue otherwise seems contrary almost to the point of defending the slur, to me.

Nov 09 11 - 3:02pm
Yes, but

Well stated. Just for information purposes, Dan Savage's referring to Magic Sky Friend Jesus is my reference for a similar slur. I don't hold you or Nerve (entirely) responsible, but I do recognize the double standard. I hope that, for you and everybody else, it really does get better.

Nov 09 11 - 3:27pm

Because I have told everyone I am infallible, you cannot make fun of me, EVER.

Nov 09 11 - 4:18pm
Yes, but

Get in the game or shut up.

Nov 10 11 - 2:43pm

Don't me me smite you.

Nov 08 11 - 11:31am

The thing that pisses me off the most about this is that he has been openly, disdainfully, virulently misogynistic his whole career, but tossed-off homophobia is going to get him pulled from the Oscars.

Nov 08 11 - 2:40pm

Also yes! His comments -- off the top of my head I can only think of his recent ones about Olivia Munn and Lindsay Lohan -- have been terribly disgusting. Sadly I don't think anything short of an actual arrest will get him away from the Oscars at this point.

Nov 09 11 - 10:24am

Sean Penn was just as openly disdainful about religion and nobody talked about throwing him off the Oscar broadcast when he was nominated for Milk. You may hate a person's opinions, but a person should be able to speak freely without it always boiling over; even if it's a public figure.

Feb 27 12 - 3:21pm

silly you, no one cares about women!!!

Nov 08 11 - 11:32am

"I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body" = "my bones are fine, but my brain is faulty"

Nov 08 11 - 12:28pm

I'd like to sidestep the debate about slurs--homophobic, religious, or otherwise--and say that the really offensive thing about these remarks is Ratner's reference to himself as a "storyteller." Made my head explode. That is all.

Nov 08 11 - 2:28pm


Nov 08 11 - 1:04pm

"I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words."

I'm not sure how you say "rehearsal is for fags" in different words, since I think Ratner said exactly what he meant. I suppose there's the "pretentious Internet poster version", e.g.:

"Rehearsal is a risible activity, best reserved for individuals whom I am inclined to characterize as homosexual, though in my eyes their most salient feature is really an effeminacy and fussiness I see as diametrically opposed to my own masculinist weltanschauung, which places a high priority on decisive, and un-self-reflective action. (Not to mention my bold, devil-my-care persona.)"

tl;dr: "Rehearsal is for fags."

Nov 08 11 - 6:58pm
Damn it.

I don't think he meant that rehearsal is for gays. In context, what he was saying that rehearsal is for: losers, assholes, counts, douchebags, dickheads, asshats, etc. If you are in any one of those groups, then feel free to take offense. Otherwise, lighten up; it wasn't intended as a slur against gays.

Nov 10 11 - 4:50pm

I think if you reread my post, you'll find I was saying basically the same thing -- that Ratner mainly meant "people I find contemptible because of how they act and think", rather than "men who have sex with men". (Of all the people you could've picked to tell to lighten up!)

Nov 08 11 - 2:06pm

Didn't South Park do an episode on how "f**" really should have nothing to do with homosexuality and really generically should be synonymous with "douchebag" (another term that's become separated from its original meaning)? I wish that were so, because it's so much more pithy than "douchebag." But I fear it's still being used as hate speech much of the time, particularly in these teen bullying cases we're seeing. So, yes, I think it's a bad term to use, even though it seems pretty clear from context that Ratner didn't mean, "Rehearsal is for homosexual men."

Nov 08 11 - 2:27pm

It has nothing to do with homosexuality? Next you'll be saying "nigger" has nothing to do with race.

Nov 08 11 - 2:40pm
just a thought

The word fag, as often used, is negative but usually isn't used descriptive of gays.

Nov 08 11 - 2:30pm
Rat Brettner

Wait, guys, I didn't mean to be offensive... what I meant to say is that rehearsal is NOT for fags. That's ok, right?

Nov 08 11 - 3:01pm
Bundle of Branches

When is rehearsal? Come on guys, stop teasing me.

Nov 08 11 - 3:01pm
More Importantly...

Brett Rattner looks like the lovechild of Jonah Hill and Mark Ruffalo

Nov 09 11 - 7:08am

Dude, yes.

Nov 09 11 - 2:26am

If you can be casually prejudiced, I assure you that every bone in your body down to your marrow, is prejudiced. Talk about a case of unchecked privilege.

The worst apology "Oh I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOO sorry that YOU are too sensitive! Neener neener neener!"

Nov 21 11 - 5:48am

How could any of this be btteer stated? It couldn't.