Brett Ratner Resigns as Oscars Producer After Sparking Controversy
by Ethan Anderton
November 8, 2011
After the official announcement that Eddie Murphy would be hosting the 84th annual Academy Awards next year with filmmaker Brett Ratner producing the live telecast, recent events have transpired that have resulted in the loss of one of those talents. While Murphy is usually the one to offend with films like Norbit and Daddy Day Care, this time it's Ratner who has offended with inappropriate remarks that have essentially forced him to resign as producer of the Academy Awards ceremony. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the announcement today, and Ratner also released an official statement.
For those who haven't kept up on the situation that's made news lately, this week Ratner was already under fire for claiming to have "banged" actress and former "Attack of the Show" host Olivia Munn (before forgetting who she even was afterwards), only to put his foot in his mouth later. But what really put Ratner in deep water this week is answering a question about his directorial style during a Q&A in promotion of Tower Heist and including the statement that, "Rehearsal is for fags." As you can imagine the gay and lesbian community was not too pleased with his remarks and have been calling for his head ever since.
This morning their wish came true as APMPAS announced Ratner's departure and the director released this open letter apologizing for his defamatory remarks and disrespect to the gay and lesbian community:
Over the last few days, I’ve gotten a well-deserved earful from many of the people I admire most in this industry expressing their outrage and disappointment over the hurtful and stupid things I said in a number of recent media appearances. To them, and to everyone I’ve hurt and offended, I’d like to apologize publicly and unreservedly.
As difficult as the last few days have been for me, they cannot compare to the experience of any young man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs or derogatory comments. And they pale in comparison to what any gay, lesbian, or transgender individual must deal with as they confront the many inequalities that continue to plague our world.
So many artists and craftspeople in our business are members of the LGBT community, and it pains me deeply that I may have hurt them. I should have known this all along, but at least I know it now: words do matter. Having love in your heart doesn’t count for much if what comes out of your mouth is ugly and bigoted. With this in mind, and to all those who understandably feel that apologies are not enough, please know that I will be taking real action over the coming weeks and months in an effort to do everything I can both professionally and personally to help stamp out the kind of thoughtless bigotry I’ve so foolishly perpetuated.
As a first step, I called Tom Sherak this morning and resigned as a producer of the 84th Academy Awards telecast. Being asked to help put on the Oscar show was the proudest moment of my career. But as painful as this may be for me, it would be worse if my association with the show were to be a distraction from the Academy and the high ideals it represents.
I am grateful to GLAAD for engaging me in a dialogue about what we can do together to increase awareness of the important and troubling issues this episode has raised and I look forward to working with them. I am incredibly lucky to have a career in this business that I love with all of my heart and to be able to work alongside so many of my heroes. I deeply regret my actions and I am determined to learn from this experience.
Classy, formal and apologetic, but it's a little sad that Ratner just now had the realization that words can hurt people when his movies have been doing that for over a decade now. Academy president Tom Sherak commented on Ratner's decision and behavior saying, "He did the right thing for the Academy and for himself. Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable. We all hope this will be an opportunity to raise awareness about the harm that is caused by reckless and insensitive remarks, regardless of the intent."
While Ratner was making a poor joke and never really meant to speak poorly about the gay and lesbian community, the situation is a delicate one, and I can't say that this decision is wrong. Though on a certain level it seems a bit hypocritical when plenty of people in show business, especially stand-up comedians, say far worse in their acts or on film, but this is what happens when you put yourself in the spotlight and say things that everyone will hear. Words can hurt whether you intend them to cause harm or not, and Brett Ratner has to learn that lesson the hard way. That's about as close as Ratner will probably get to an Academy Award anyway. A replacement should be announced soon.