James Gunn is back BABY!!
Or "We Are Groot"
When I heard the news last week about James Gunn being rehired for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, there was an audible “WHOA!” that escaped my lips and caused all my co-workers to look at me in curious wonderment.
Somebody asked, “Are you okay?”
I assured them I was fine, and then I listened for the almost imperceptibly silent shift in the cosmos, as if at least in this small matter the Universe was set right again. Guardians of the Galaxy was James Gunn’s baby, and it had always been his baby. At least for this third installment, it should continue to be his baby. We can debate whether or not the second one was as good as the first one, but we cannot debate that his stamp and his signature is all over both of those movies.
We all know why he was fired, but I will summarize it anyway: an alt-righter whose name does not need to be mentioned (he does not need anymore publicity), dug up some old Tweets that Gunn had made and never denied making. The Tweets were intended to provoke, shock and offend; however, Gunn had no intention of ever deleting them. For transparency, he said, but also to mark how he has grown as a person.
So, when he apologized for his previous Tweets and said he was not the same person who made those Tweets, his words did not sound as if they had come from a publicist. They sounded genuine.
Gunn was fired, of course, as a response to Roseanne Barr’s dismissal from ABC after she Tweeted some offensive and racist Tweets of her own. Yet, unlike Gunn, who took ownership and said sorry, Barr did not. Instead, she blamed Ambien, who immediately commented that racism was not one of its side effects.
Granted, what Barr and Gunn Tweeted are both shocking. Also, I do think it is the job of the comedian to disrupt the counterfeit piece by saying shocking things. If you go through the early days of comics and vaudeville, they were always the ones saying the things we were thinking, but were too afraid to say aloud. No matter how dark, twisted, disgusting, immoral or amoral, some of those thoughts crossed our minds at some point. I am using “we” and “our” here as a societal collective. This has been the job of Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Sam Kinison, and to a certain degree Andrew Dice Clay, Louis CK, Kathy Griffin, and yes, even Roseanne Barr.
This does not mean we cannot be offended when a comic makes a joke in poor taste. We have every right to be offended, but the comic has every right to make the joke as well. Poor taste is not…
Since Gunn has been forgiven or pardoned (or what have you), does this mean Roseanne Barr should receive the same treatment by Disney if she were to apologize? In all fairness, I have to answer yes. However, here is where personal opinion and taste comes into play.
I am going to use this scene from The People vs. Larry Flynt to further explain this:
“Unpopular speech is absolutely vital to the health of our nation.”
Gunn is guilty of bad taste by making those jokes years ago, but there did not seem to be an undercurrent of hate to his Tweets. When you liken one person to an ape because of the color of their skin, that reeks of racism and that reeks of hatred. Hatred breeds violence.
There is far too much violence and hate in our country today.
Somebody is going to ask, “So are you saying there is an acceptable level of pedophilia in our country today?”
No, absolutely not. Goddammit…that is not what I am fucking saying. The acceptable level of pedophilia is zero, and that’s all I am going to say about that.
Gunn apologized for his words, and Roseanne did not. I know I already said it wouldn’t matter if she did apologize, but it would really depend on the manner of her apology and the words she uses.
Yes, words matter, and James Gunn has the best words for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
I could keep going on and on about this matter, defending Gunn while deriding Roseanne – and it would all be due to the fact of my personal preference because that is what this comes down to.
You don’t have to be okay with Gunn being rehired.
You don’t’ have to be okay with Roseanne being fired.
But I am.
If nothing else, Guardians is about inclusiveness, and that’s what we need right now.