Not long ago, Disney fired Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, 51, after a series of tasteless and offensive tweets he sent out around a decade ago came to light. Since then, there’s been a groundswell of support for Gunn among fans, with celebrities like Patton Oswald and Bobcat Goldthwait calling for him to be rehired, and the cast of Guardians signing an open letter in support:
So will Disney relent and hire Gunn back to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3? According to Variety, who spoke to a source “close to the matter,” probably not. “Those tweets were so horrible and Disney has a different standard than other studios,” said the source.
The tweets, of which there were dozens, are indeed disgusting. The tweets themselves have since been taken down, but the text lives on. Here are a few examples:
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!”
I’m doing a big Hollywood adaptation of The Giving Tree with a happy ending – the tree grows back and gives the kid a blowjob.
Other tweets made light of AIDS, the Holocaust and 9/11, so yeah, they’re not great, and WAY off the mark if Gunn was trying to be funny. In a statement, Gunn seemed to agree: “My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” he wrote. “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…To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.
But no one’s arguing that Gunn’s tweets weren’t offensive. The question is whether Disney should forgive and forget them. According to Variety, the decision to fire Gunn went right to the top; it was approved by Disney Studios chief Alan Horn, with CEO Bob Iger also weighing in. Given that, Variety’s source doubts that the push to rehire Gunn can gain traction within the company.
Disney reportedly isn’t afraid of the cast refusing to do Guardians 3 — they’re under contract, after all, so pulling out could expose them to legal trouble — and is willing to wait for the right candidate to replace Gunn as director. That candidate could be hard to find. Gunn was a big part of what made the Guardians movies successful; when the first one was announced, few thought that this largely unknown group of superheroes would stand out from the many others currently tearing up the theaters, but Gunn found a lighthearted tone that worked.
On the other hand, there are a lot of directors out there, and plenty of them will be willing to work on a high-paying Disney gig.
In any case, Variety opines that Disney’s refusal to rehire Gunn even as fans rally for him is an example of the new “zero tolerance” policy taking hold of Hollywood in the wake of the #MeToo movement, where major figures like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer and many more have been cast out of show business following allegations of misconduct. Variety brings up how ABC fired Roseanne Barr immediately after she tweeted racist comments about Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, or how Paramount laid off executive Amy Powell after she allegedly used racially sensitive language in the workplace.