1. If I got judged by my old tweets, I wouldn't be allowed to work at Burger King.
2. The tweets were bad, but Gunn also directed Slither and Super. Disney knew who he was when they hired him.
— Howlin' Mad Herrmann (@ThatJoeHerrmann) July 20, 2018
James Gunn has been fired from the Marvel Franchise Guardians of the Galaxy following outrage over old Tweets in a move which has been linked to conspiracy theory Pizzagate creator Mike Cernovich.
The alt right has a move which works with regularity for them: playing the offended party while insulting anyone offended by their– you know, actual bigotry. Sure, they give ample, obsessive support to a president who bragged about committing sexual assault, but when they want to take someone down they will dig through their tweets and find offensive things to make them lose their job. Usually it doesn’t work, but it did here after Mike Cernovich dug through director James Gunn’s tweets following offensive examples, and unearthing them leading Disney to part ways with director James Gunn who was the architect of the hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy saga.
i think james gunn is pretty fuckin annoying, but I also think it's a totally fucked for him to create the entire tone of Guardians (which was then cribbed for the rest of the Marvel movies) and then get fired and humiliated because Disney couldnt handle a few hours of bad PR
— anonymous account (@jackallisonLOL) July 20, 2018
So what were the offensive James Gunn tweets and entries? One was a post ranking superheroines in order of sexiness that included demeaning language, and the other was a series of provocative jokes, often about pedophilia, which can be read here.
Some of these are a stretch (the use of the term kid in the Giving Tree joke clearly refers to the adult version of the book’s protagonist), and none of them actually endorse pedophilia. They are dark jokes from an era when such a sense of humor was more accepted, especially in nerd circles (see, Robot Chicken). They are offensive, but Gunn has since apologized for the jokes around the release of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, and one would think they were old news.
So what exactly changed? Gunn began tweeting against the president for one, and one of the president’s biggest supporters, Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, who in the past got comedian Sam Seder fired for an equally bad faith reading of old tweets, retaliated at the director.
Polygon reporter Julia Alexander explores the issue — not letting Gunn off the hook for his tasteless tweets (for which Gunn has apologized years ago), but pointing out how these tweets surfacing now were a targeted move.
James Gunn himself released a statement on Twitter in light of the outrage, saying:
Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor… It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over… In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies… For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it… Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.
Gunn apologized for the jokes, but Disney has still kicked him off the films following faux alt right outrage. It’s not the first time Disney has fired directors, from Edgar Wright on Ant-Man to Phil Lord and Chris Miller on Solo. One has to wonder if the alt right outrage was an excuse considering that these tweets and entries have been discussed in the mainstream earlier.
So what happened here exactly? Easy – Disney publicly gave in to bad faith alt right tactics. Maybe none of us should be on Twitter, if we’re going to be judged for statements made close to a decade ago as part of a ritual attempt by the far right to silence people who criticize the president.
One wonders if this public capitulation to the same tactics that caused a gunman to enter Comet Pizza only to leave it in handcuffs will be a black eye on the company’s history. One should remember that when Sam Seder was targeted, he returned to MSNBC within the week. For now, James Gunn is no longer to appear in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con tonight and we will see what Disney’s next steps are regarding the franchise, and its next step regarding how it deals with the fallout of this decision.
UPDATE: James Gunn has released a statement regarding his firing which can be read below. The statement says he is completely understanding of the decisions made today and will work towards becoming a better person:
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.
Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”
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