If you’ve been keeping up with the entertainment-o-sphere over the past handful of days, you’ve probably heard that James Gunn, the guy behind the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, has been fired by Disney due to offensive tweets he posted years ago. He will no longer be directing Guardians of the Galaxy Part 3.
Or at least, that’s how it looks right now. Many people, including colleagues and fans, are coming out in support of Gunn, 51. If you’re just hearing of this story, we thought we’d break it down. What did Gunn say, how did his tweets come to light, and who’s rallying to get him rehired?
First, the tweets themselves: between 2008 and 2009, before Disney hired Gunn to work on the Guardians movies, he posted some deeply tasteless jokes about rape and pedophilia. Here are two examples, according to Metro:
I like when little boys touch me in my silly place.
The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like, “whew this feels great, not being raped!”
Gunn apologized for comments like this in 2012, around when Disney hired him to work on Guardians. However, he did not, according to Entertainment Weekly, apologize for those specific tweets at that time.
Anyway, life moved on, the Guardians movies were well-received, and the tweets were largely forgotten until they were recently dug up by alt-right social media personality Mike Cernovich, who has a history of using inappropriate tweets to get people fired. For example, in 2017, Cernovich brought to light an off-color joke about Roman Polanski made by MSNBC’s Sam Seder. MSNBC fired Seder, Cernovich posted a video declaring victory, and then MSNBC rehired Seder after numerous people came to his support, accepting Seder’s argument that his tweet was meant as a satiric criticism of Polanski’s apologists.
Disney fired Gunn late last week. “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” said Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. Gunn also released a statement:
My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” his statement read. “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.
Since then, numerous people both in Hollywood and out have rallied behind Gunn, either offering support or demanding he be rehired. Let’s start with the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy itself. Dave Bautista (Drax) was quite clear:
Zoe Saldana (Gamora) was more general:
Ditto Karen Gillan (Gamora):
Chris Pratt (Peter Quill) quoted the Bible:
MIchael Rooker (Yondu) deleted his Twitter account in solidarity. “This account will be inactive after today,” read his final post. “We’re very tired & upset over the ongoing bullshit. Twitter sucks and I want nothing to do with it. Thank you to all who gave kind words and support. See you on Instagram.”
And Gunn’s brother Sean, who plays Yondu’s first mate Kraglin, wrote a lengthy defense of his brother, noting how he had changed in the past decade:
Also throwing in support: Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland…
…Evil Dead director Fede Alvarez…
…and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who suggested Disney remove his voice from an upcoming ride at a Disney theme park in protest:
Some of Gunn’s defenders have gone beyond supporting him and attacked Cernovich and his camp:
To be clear, Cernovich is a scumbucket of a person — he got his start in the men’s rights movement, calls people who disagree with him pedophiles, and helped spread the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which led to an incident where an armed man fired a rifle in a pizza restaurant. As an alt-right provocateur, Cernovich generally goes after people who lean to the left. That includes Gunn, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. But does the fact that Cernovich is a terrible human being who targeted Gunn for political reasons mean that Disney should excuse Gunn’s offensive tweets, a decade old as they are? Will Disney, like MSNBC before it, agree with the people who are currently lashing back against it, or will it stick to its original decision?