Ron Howard, the director of The Dilemma, has explained why he kept a controversial gay joke in the film.

The film’s trailer was cut when gay groups and public figures complained about the inclusion of the joke.

In it, Vince Vaughn’s character says electric cars are “gay”.

His character tells a boardroom: “Electric cars are gay. Not homosexual gay, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Ellen DeGeneres complained that it would encourage homophobic bullying.

According to the BBC, Howard said: “I was surprised [at the reaction] because it shows up on television all the time, it’s part of American slang and used with a non-sexual connotation.

“But then I thought about it and realised it was really being called into question out of context and based on advertising materials.”

The joke stayed in the film but was cut from the trailer.

“I was not going to take it out of the movie because I thought it informs a lot about the character and the fact that he is willing to say inappropriate things and make inappropriate choices and we have everybody reacting to it and that is what’s funny about it,” said Howard.

But he added that the joke’s inclusion in the trailer was problematic because it is “thrust upon” them without a “storyteller’s aesthetic”.

“I understood people using the opportunity to make a point and the studio wanting to remove it,” he said, “but as it related to the movie, I also didn’t feel it was appropriate to take it out.”