When Straight Actors Get Away With Gay Slurs

Film Summer Preview Comedy

There was that gay sex scene in Wet Hot American Summer and the homoerotics in Nip/Tuck, and now actor Bradley Cooper goes gay again in the upcoming flick Valentine’s Day, where he’ll play a dude in love with a closet-case football player. High school memories! So now that he’s a bona fide gay-for-pay star, he’s free to take roles in other movies where he plays straight guys throwing around gay slurs, right?

Now starring in The Hangover — which, shut up, we actually want to see when it comes out June 5 — Cooper’s outgoing voicemail message is “Don’t text me; it’s gay” while his character throws around the phrase “paging Dr. Faggot.”

Kosher? Cooper tells writer Brandon Voss: “It has a lot to do with the way you’re brought up. Luckily, I was brought up right. My grandfather in particular was against us ever using any sort of slur, so that’s been ingrained in my head since I was a kid. But I see no problem in playing characters that say ‘faggot’ and stuff like that. I’m just representing a character, and you have to understand him for all of his faults and assets. I don’t think there’s anything off-limits in terms of storytelling. We actually shot that ‘paging Dr. Faggot’ scene at 8:30 in the morning on a beautiful street populated with a lot of gay couples, so I’m screaming ‘faggot’ and thinking, Oh, my God, what am I doing?”

So it’s cool for straight characters to painted as giant homophobes? Like Paul Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer? “It depends on what movie we’re talking about, but what it’s usually depicting is the lack of comfort so many males have even talking about homosexuality. But I think the stereotype has been changed to reveal that the guy who calls everybody ‘faggot’ is probably gay or certainly has issues he’s not dealing with. If there’s something about someone that bothers you, usually it’s something that you don’t like about yourself.”

And the requisite “How do you feel about rumors that you’re gay” response goes like this: “I think it’s awesome. Victor Garber is one of my best friends, and I’ll never forget when we went to some event together and people thought we were dating. It was all over the Internet. It was the first time I read a rumor like that about me, and I just thought it was fantastic. But if you believe those rumors, every single male in Hollywood is gay.”

Well, seems like as good a time as any to revisit Cooper’s sexing in Wet Hot American Summer, yes?