Following complaints from a congressman, the producers of “Wedding Crashers” on Monday yanked from the movie’s Web site a printable Purple Heart advertised as a gimmick to pick up women and get free drinks.
The movie characters — played by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn — use the medals to pick up women. But advocates for a bill introduced by Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., say it’s no joke — impostors also use the fake medals or fraudulent stories of medals to get ahead in business.
“We understand the sensitivity regarding the medals and did not intend to make light of their significance in any way,” New Line Cinema spokesman Richard Socarides said Monday.
Wearing, manufacturing, buying, selling or trading a Medal of Honor is a crime. Salazar’s Stolen Valor Act, introduced Friday, would expand the law to include more medals and would allow prosecution of anyone who falsely claims to have earned a military medal or a Purple Heart.
His office drew attention to the Web site. On Monday, he claimed victory.
“If any movie-goers take the advice of the ‘Wedding Crashers’ and try to use fake Purple Hearts to get girls, they may wind up picking up an FBI agent instead,” Salazar warned in a statement. “I am pleased that New Line Cinema has agreed to take down offensive parts of the Web site. Our veterans and FBI agents are working hard to make sure that we honor our true heroes, no one should undermine their efforts.”
The movie’s Web site included a “Crasher Kit” with instructions on how to win attention at a wedding.
“Print your own Purple Heart,” it invited. “To get one of these babies, some dudes have to prove their physical, mental and spiritual strength with great feats of bravery on the battlefield. All you need to do is press the button below.”
Socarides said it would be removed by the end of the business day. “This is a comedy, and it’s intended to be funny,” he said. “It’s really not intended to offend anyone.”
Advocates for Salazar’s bill praised the producers for altering the Web site. In a way, some said, the flap over the movie has helped by bringing attention to a cause they have been working on for years.
“With Hollywood you have to give them a little bit of license,” said B.G. Burkett, one of the authors of the book “Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History,” about fake Vietnam vets. “I’m hopeful Congressman Salazar’s bill is going to go through, and it will put a clamp on the people who are doing this.”