So James Gunn apparently sent a bunch of “edgy” tweets several years before he worked on Guardians of the Galaxy. These came to light and Disney booted him off the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 project.
A few thoughts:
Okay, so the fact that it’s Disney pretty much throws out every other thought and opinion anyone might have here. They own the entertainment machine and if they want to fire a director or basically anyone, they will. They have bizarre, creepy guidelines and not even Gunn is arguing the point here – they said get out of here, he made like a tree.
I didn’t think his tweets were especially edgy, clever, or offensive. They were just your typical ooh-look-at-me raciness that I’ve come to expect from a hysterically prissy and puritanical culture like the US.
Shades of Cenk Uygur’s ousting from Justice Democrats here. That’s a whole different conversation but I feel the general theme is similar. Both feature publications from the past from a person who has since reformed and improved (which surely is the goal here). The fact that some words are written in electronic stone shouldn’t blind people to the years and years of words and actions since. Again, it’s Disney, so joking about kiddie-sex is pretty much the most anti-Disney thing you can do (with the possible exception of Disney Princess On Mickey And Donald Porn don’t Google that), but … well, let’s put it this way, this single paragraph of this single blog post has essentially guaranteed that I will never work with Disney – and if I do, it will only be for as long as it takes for somebody to dislike me enough to dig this up. And before anyone calls me out on the stupidity of writing the above words … look, there are worse words on this blog, going back to 2005. And before that, there are the Google Usenet archives. I don’t really go in for crass humour (what? I don’t!), but there’s always the odd rare occasion. And that line is always moving. It’s already well and truly too late, and I would argue that the same can be said for anyone over the age of about 25. If someone wants to find dirt, there’s dirt available.
Who dug this shit up? Oh, conservatives, of course. I can’t really fault that, since digging up dirt on “the enemy” is a time-honoured tradition. I just wish the progressive side did it a little bit better. Of course it doesn’t really matter if they do, because any dirt dug up on a conservative is just hand-waved away and forgotten. They do not care what we think, and we apparently hold ourselves to a higher standard. As dreameling wisely said, Gunn gets fired over poor-taste jokes from years ago, and Trump is still president of the United States. That really says it all.
Apparently Ted Cruz, US Republican politician and one of perhaps the five most grotesque little subhuman goblins to turn up and start sniffing chairs during the last US presidential race, has gone on record saying Gunn should be charged, as well as fired. Ted Cruz can absolutely and utterly go and fuck himself. He’s a whore for organised groups that actually perform heinous acts of rape on young children, so he can clean his own shit-stained house before going after Gunn’s stupid potty-mouth.
I don’t care for the “oh, today they decide X is (retroactively) unacceptable, tomorrow it will be Y and Z” argument. Because … we all kind of knew these jokes were unacceptable, didn’t we? We knew, or should have thought, that they’d hurt someone, that they were insensitive to someone’s pain? Although once you start looking at jokes, they’re usually at someone‘s expense. And it’s possible to visualise basically any of them being deemed bad. Yes, racist jokes are harmful. Yes, jokes about rape or child molestation are disgusting (nowhere near as disgusting as the actual crimes, but we want to think about whether mocking the perpetrator is a valuable enough end to justify hurting the victim). But then jokes about stupid people are mean, and sarcasm usually pokes fun at someone’s naïveté, and slapstick usually means someone’s getting hurt. So yeah, we can also take a moment to wonder where this is heading. It seems okay for now, but … worth keeping an eye on. Gunn made / allowed a joke about how Star Lord jizzed all over the inside of his spaceship in Guardians of the Galaxy, and that was alright with Disney.
On the same subject, and getting specific, what about Blazing Saddles? This was a film intentionally, consciously written and planned to mock and overturn racist tropes (unlike Gunn’s tweets, which were self-confessedly just to shock people for no real greater cause). Brooks overruled studio executives who didn’t want him to use the n-word so many times. He did it to confront, and to pull the teeth of genuine racists who wanted to perpetuate segregation and oppression. Can we now say “he made those jokes just a few decades ago, he must not be allowed to make movies again”? And okay, Mel Brooks is unlikely to work with Disney. And okay, I’ve re-watched several of his movies recently and – while still funny – they’re definitely uncomfortable. And I think he’d be delighted that they are: we don’t live in a world where that sort of humour is relevant anymore. And that’s a good thing … isn’t it? Why don’t we accept that the past was ugly, but you can’t persecute somebody in the present based on that? Not for something that wasn’t a crime then and isn’t a crime now, anyway.
For real, I get that Disney has a clean image and this was absolute poison to them. Gunn should have had less shitty jokes. But we’ve all heard stand-up comedians do worse. Mel Brooks wouldn’t make Blazing Saddles today, and Disney should probably have checked Gunn’s background more carefully if this was going to be an issue. Let’s not pretend that they didn’t act entirely because people kicked up a stink about it. They must have known a bit about his “edgy” past when they signed him on (see the jizz spraying joke), but they were okay with it as long as it remained more or less hidden in the past.
This brings us to the idea that “he said those things, so some part of his personality must still be drawn there, in word or thought or even deed”. Which … man, I don’t know. Is some part of James Gunn a child molester because he is jaded enough to make jokes about it? That sounds ridiculous on its face. You might as well say that some part of me is a fifty-foot cybernetic space shark because I’ve written about Fergunak.
Do we get this stuff down in writing as a way of exorcising it out of our brains? Sure. Would it eventually express in some physical way, turning us into murderers or rapists, if we didn’t? I don’t think so, but I’m not a psychologist. Has James Gunn ever raped a child? I don’t know, I know basically nothing about him but I’m prepared to say “no he hasn’t”, because that’s how the goddamned justice system is meant to work.
Gunn has entertained me with his movies, even if he’s nowhere near as witty and incisive as he evidently thought he was a few years ago. I am really sorry if his tweets upset some people who are more sensitive that I am (and I mean that in a genuine, non-mocking sense), and I definitely understand why Disney had to slap that shit hard. But if I’d been paying him to make my movies, I probably wouldn’t have fired him over this.
And … he’s looking for work now, right? Maybe I should tell him about my series.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark after work.