CHIPs, the big-screen adaptation of the popular ‘70s cop show, rolled into theaters last weekend, packed with jokes playing on gay panic and fragile masculinity.
But star Dax Shepard insists the film’s homophobic streak is funny, not mean.
“It’s fun and challenging to have a topic like homophobia be in this movie and to do it correctly. That’s a very fun challenge,” the actor, who also wrote and directed the film, told Huffington Post. “The intent isn’t homophobic, the intent is actually to be progressive and still deal with that issue because that issue is always going to be funny—all those issues are going to be funny.”
In one scene, Michael Pena’s super-macho Frank “Ponch” Poncherello is mortified when he does a face plant into Shepard’s crotch. In another, he’s squicked out by underwear-clad officers hugging in the locker room.
When Shepard’s Joe Baker tells Ponch he’s coming across as homophobic, Ponch replies, “Me not wanting to hug a naked male stranger is homophobic?”
There are three gay characters in the movie: A dirty cop and an armored-car driver who are secretly a couple, and an openly gay officer, “Gay Terry,” who boasts about his promiscuity and expresses an interest in sleeping with both Shepard and Pena. (He’s also a terrible cop.)
Low-brow comedies have been trying to have it both ways for some time—trolling in stale gay panic jokes, but claiming the homophobe is the object of derision, not the gay guy.
That might appease activists, but to the bros watching the movie at the multiplex, the joke remains the same.