The Conversation: Should Brett Ratner Be Fired From the Oscars?

The Conversation: Should Brett Ratner Be Fired From the Oscars?

Nov 08, 2011

Even though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has forgiven Brett Ratner for his use of a gay slur over the weekend, many around the Internet are not ready to move on, and they still call for either his firing or his resignation as producer of the 2012 Oscars. A few are admitting defeat, such as Movieline's S.T. VanAirsdale who yesterday wondered if an apology is really enough for the offense and kicked off a Twitter meme called #RatnerFreeOscars, through which people suggested alternative producers like Bela Tarr, David Lynch and Michael Bay ("if your speech goes long: BOOM!! Explosive podiums!"). The Furious D Show also lists some replacement ideas.

Meanwhile, there isn't too much going on at the #firebrettratner campaign. But people are still talking about this, and maybe if enough people write and Tweet about it the Academy will be forced to reconsider. That's the hope of many of the bloggers who've requested Ratner's removal, and although a number of the below quotes are taken from posts and statements made before the Academy's merciful response, I'm sure they mostly still stand. 

As for the anonymous, they weighed in too: Washington Post's Celebritology is polling readers, and currently 47% say he should be fired while 20% simply say he shouldn't have ever been hired in the first place. Gold Derby also has a poll, in which 66% of readers presently say he should be canned. Of course, in spite of this being Election Day, these votes might not make much of a difference. 

So what are others saying about Ratner's future as Oscar producer? Here's The Conversation heard around the blogosphere and Twitter: 


I’ve had to listen to versions of every one of these mea-not-quite-culpas over the years and seriously, I’m no longer interested in patiently witnessing the slow arc of a public figure’s learning curve. What I do care about is what the Academy does, which should be either to ask for and receive his resignation from the show or to drop him as the producer of a show that is supposed to represent the best the industry has to offer. There’s not really a long, nuanced debate to be had about this. If he had used an equivalent racial or religious slur, the discussion would go something like, “You’re fired.” Apology or not. The same rule applies here. You don’t get a mulligan on homophobia. Not in 2011. - Mark Harris, Hollywood Prospectus (Grantland)

As a gay man I'm offended by Ratner using the f-word, but, I mean, it's Brett Ratner.  I'm not surprised. I'm not shocked.  I'm just depressed a man who has shown so little talent keeps floating to the top and making a fool out of our industry and art form.  That's the real reason Sherak should let him go as this year's Oscar producer. - Gregory Ellwood, HitFix

Is there any excuse for this flippant use of homophobic language, particularly when you're in charge of  the most-watched awards presentation on the planet? His choice of words suggest he is tonedeaf to a sizable segment of the Oscar show's audience. Furthermore, several high-profile films with LGBT themes are in the Oscar race, including "J. Edgar," "Beginners," and "Albert Nobbs." How odd will it be to see them represented on Ratner's telecast following his comments? - Adam Waldowski, Gold Derby

I sincerely believe the Academy needs to fire Brett Ratner. - Ryan Adams, Awards Daily

If Gil Cates was still alive, this would kill him. - "One longtime production staffer," to Steve Pond, The Wrap

Would Hollywood let Mel Gibson host the Oscars? Hell no! Then the same should hold for Ratner. - Brian Moylan, Gawker

Substitute any other popular derogatory epithet in his comments — the ones often directed at blacks or Jews or Latinos, for instance — and we’re not even having this conversation. He’d have been booted off the Oscar telecast so fast his head would be spinning, and getting back into the director’s chair for his next movie would require some major Mel Gibson-style public sackcloth and ashes. [...] It isn’t complicated: There’s a line there, a line consisting of common decency and ordinary courtesy, and Brett Ratner has repeatedly crossed it. Let’s make clear to the Academy that he’s got to go. - Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

If the storm of criticism continues, we wouldn’t be surprised if Ratner voluntarily steps down from the Oscars gig. But we won’t hold our breath waiting for any celebrities to censure him publicly. - Qweerty

It's embarrassing for the Academy in the obvious way -- the poster boy for the one big, known thing you do all year is caught using an offensive term for gay people, in grand old gay Hollywood of all places. But it's also cringe-worthy for the Academy in that it serves to highlight what a weird, ill-matched choice Ratner was in the first place. What were they thinking? [...] But at least the Academy did one thing right in hiring this clown. We're talking about the Oscar telecast in early November, aren't we? That just might be victory enough. - Richard Lawson, The Atlantic

Ratner's public statements lately make him sound better suited as a producer of the MTV Video Music Awards, but that's not entirely at odds with what the Academy wanted from him. They'd rather he stop before uttering gay slurs in public, of course, but sometimes that's the price you pay for buying your way into somebody else's sense of frat boy cool. [...] if and when they write the statement to throw him under the bus, I hope they're honest with themselves-- this is exactly the Brett Ratner they hired. - Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

The Academy must choose: Stay the course and show that you are with it and not going to let a little slur slow down Oscar-noble self-image be damned-- or go back to the old ways, batten down the hatches and brace yourself for another plummet in the ratings (particularly as this year's crop of contender's looks to be another year of “small” pictures), but do so with your head held high. - Richard Rushfield, The Daily Beast

Ratner’s priority for the next few months should be to put on a good show, and stop embarrassing the Academy. I get the feeling Ratner now understands this but if he keeps shooting himself in the foot, it will be up to the AMPAS board to lay down the law. - Mike Fleming, Deadline

I don't think Ratner's comments were malicious, just intensely stupid. [...] put aside the homophobic portion of his remark for a moment and just look at what Ratner says: the guy doesn't believe in rehearsals! Don't they rehearse the Oscars for, like, weeks before the broadcast? Should the producer of the Oscars be so dismissive about the all-important preparations for the show? I guess if the Oscars look unusually sloppy this year, we'll know why. - Matt Singer, IFC News

Should the Academy Awards telecast, which honors artists including women and gay men, shrug its shoulders and keep him on as producer? Well, no. [...] Ultimately, if there's no response to an obvious crossing of a line, then what happens is that the line moves. And while there are clearly times when the line moving is a healthy thing, unless Ratner wants to make the case that it's really time to stop being so bothered by "that's for fags" as a pejorative, they can perfectly well pick another producer. - Linda Holmes, NPR's Monkey See

Remember that in leftist Hollywood, you can call the Pope a Nazi, joke about killing a mother of five named Sarah Palin, and relentlessly mock and stereotype Southerners as toothless, inbred sister-humpers eager to make you squeal like a pig. Oh, and feature films can revolve around the mocking of Christians. But, BY GOD, don’t you dare tell a joke that includes a gay slur. Spare me, you hypocritical bigots. - John Nolte, Big Hollywood

The world is being bullied by those mean horrible Gays! [...] Oh, thank you, Big Hollywood, for reminding me that Brett Ratner is not the most vile human being in America. - Dustin Rowles, Pajiba


@theblueboat: Yes, but not for a stupid, off-the-cuff remark he made one time. Fire him for being a complete douche the rest of time.

@SnagFilms: It would be a great way for The Academy to show its commitment towards eradicating homophobia...

@davidehrlich: Yes, AMPAS should fire Brett Ratner. And then the people at AMPAS should be fired because they hired Brett Ratner.

@truthoncinema: raise your hand if you thought he didn't deserve the gig in the first place. (Raises Hand)

@Pilgrim945: Was there ever a question the Oscars shouldn't fire Brett Ratner? Now they just have a reason beyond "gross incompetence".

@mikedimpact: He should be fired for being Brett Ratner...and I wonder how long he rehearsed his apology?

@nai_nosnibor: Brett Ratner should be fired. Out of a cannon. Into a wall.

@artsenyc: I don't care if Brett Ratner apologizes, that is the way he thinks and should no produce the OSCARS... won't be watching. Sick and tired of people like Brett Ratner apologizing for being homophobic & go on their way like nothing happen... Fire him from OSCARS.

@afbowler: What a world we live in where Brett Ratner's juvenile comments offend people but his juvenile films don't.

@ErikWilliams79: it's almost to the point where Ratner is such an idiot and a villain that I would rather ignore him than give him more press

@AshleyNichols92: This whole controversy with Brett Ratner, yes what he said was wrong but people are overreacting way too much. #MoveOn



Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.

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