To the shock and dismay of Marvel fans, writer and director James Gunnwas fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 last weekend. The decision was made when decade-old tweets about child-rape and pedophilia were unearthed by conservative personalities Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec.
While the tweets were repulsive, they were made at a time when Gunn was a different person. Still, they were troubling enough for Disney to take quick action. Since then Guardians of the Galaxy stars and others have come to Gunn’s defense. Check out what they had to say below.
Gunn acknowledges that he made offensive jokes at a time when he was immature and assured that he was not that kind of person now. Gunn said of his firing:
“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.”
Stars who have come to Gunn’s defense include Dave Bautista, who played Drax in both Guardians of the Galaxy films and Avengers: Infinity War; Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s David Dastmalchian; Sean Gunn, fellow Guardians of the Galaxy star and James’s brother; Hellboy alum Selma Blair, and more.
We’ll start with Bautista:
I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this..@JamesGunn is one of the most loving,caring,good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him
What will you do when the #cybernazis attack you? Who will stand by you? Who will cowardly distance themselves from you? Who will punish you for horrible JOKES in the past instead of defending you for INSPIRING millions? MILLIONS!!! #Redemption#injustice@JamesGunn
David Dastmalchian also provided some words of support for his fellow MCU brother:
That was followed by Sean Gunn, James’ brother.
1. I hope it goes without saying that I love and support my brother James. And I'm quite proud of how kind, generous, and compassionate he is with the people in his life, whether they are friends, family, colleagues, fans, or strangers.
3. Since devoting his entire life to the Guardians movies and MCU six years ago, I've seen him channel that voice into his work on those movies and seen him transform from the guy who made up things to shock people.
5. I saw that he was more open-hearted than the guy who needed to get a rise out of people by making nasty or offensive jokes (or whatever you choose to call them–I don't think his bluer material was ever his funniest and neither does Mom).
7. It's part of what made working on the Guardians movies such a rewarding experience for the cast, myself included. We managed to find ourselves involved in a big-budget superhero movie that was, at its core, deeply personal. That's a gift. And that's why it's good.
9. So I guess my hope is that fans continue to watch and appreciate the Guardians movies, not despite the fact that the filmmaker used to be kind of a jackass, but because of it. They are, after all, movies about discovering your best self.
Hellboy alum Selma Blair tweeted out a petition for Disney to re-hire James Gunn. As of this post, the petition is nearing 200,000 signatures:
Marvel: RE-HIRE JAMES GUNN – Sign the Petition! https://t.co/JeVbFZkQLL via @Change. Because if people are punished despite changing, then what does that teach people about owning mistakes and evolving? This man is one of the good ones.
Other actors and comedians like Patton Oswalt and Michael Ian Black have also come to Gunn’s defense, tweeting out evidence of Cernovich’s transgressions, which also included rape and the suggestion that date rape does not exist:
This is one of the LESS disgusting tweets from Mike Cernovich, the dude who, after running a Gamergate-style smear campaign, just got James Gunn fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. Okay have a good weekend. https://t.co/7DYlin1zgO
Wow. This is quite a comedown from James Gunn. Mike, we’ve had this conversation before. There’s a qualitative difference between a comedian making jokes – even offensive jokes (me)- and somebody being charged with rape in 2003 (you). https://t.co/b5U7ITKkU7
Gunn’s firing is a complex issue. His decade-old tweets are very troubling at the least and disturbing at most, but they were not outside the norm of a person who has been known to make shocking and offensive content through comedy. Still, we cannot ignore the fact that he made these tweets. And as offensive, as they are, Gunn takes full responsibility for making them. At the same time, we cannot forget that these distasteful tweets were meant to be a joke. They do not a reflect or encapsulate the person who made them.
But even if these tweets did go unnoticed, Disney knew that Gunn’s previous films like Slither and Super were controversial and suggestive. Additionally, his PG Porn web series is simultaneously playful and provocative. And yet, the director has evolved from all of that and turned himself into a filmmaker who delivered a comic book franchise about losers, underdogs, and characters who may be overlooked to a wide audience. He took the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and gave us a true superhero family. And the world accepted them. None of that would have been possible without James Gunn.
However, if he wasn’t fired, it would have put Disney in a very difficult situation. The Disney’s decision to fire Roseanne Barr for her comments but not Gunn would have been seen as a double-standard. I am not saying I like the decision, but had it been done any other way that did not end up with termination, it would have reflected badly on Disney’s decision to fire Roseanne. However, we have to remember that Roseanne continues to be a shocking figure, and has a reputation for tweeting out offensive material and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. But, at some point in time, Gunn stopped making those galling tweets and focused his attention on producing more fruitful things.
We have to recognize that Gunn’s tweets are appalling, even if they were meant to be a joke. However, the same cannot be said for those who made a conscious effort to look for those appalling tweets, for they have dark histories of their own.
Cernovich, who was the mastermind behind the false Pizzagate controversy, mocked rape victims, made light of his own rape accusations and said that there was no such thing as date rape.
Likewise for Jack Posobiec, who helped push the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and made the false claim that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was being rewritten to make President Trump look like a racist (it wasn’t, and he is one). “Star Wars writers rewrote and reshot Rogue One to add in Anti Trump scenes calling him a racist,” Posobiec tweeted. “Disgusting. #DumpStarWars.”
So here we are, living in a time when we have to hold our movie directors to a higher standard than the president. How is it that we now have more faith in a group of people who openly mock rape victims and spread dangerous falsehoods, than those who has given us inspiration and joy? This isn’t the world we should be living in.