What To Do With James Gunn…
In Defense of Growth, and why the internet is undefeated
Walt Disney summarily fired James Gunn for a number of offensive Tweets he made in 2007 and 2008. James Gunn admitted he made those Tweets, and made no move to defend or apologize for them. He simply said he was not the same person today as he was when he made those Tweets.
It made no difference to Disney, though; they made their decision, and they stuck to it. “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James Gunn’s Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” said Alan Horn, Walt Disney Studios Chairman.
The Tweets Gunn made involved pedophilia and rape. Certainly, nothing to joke about.
In May, Disney reacted similarly when they immediately fired Roseanne Barr after a vulgar and racist Tweet in which she compared a former Democratic advisor to an ape. (Roseanne has recently tried to walk back her comments, saying she didn’t know Valerie Jarrett was Black.)
The entire cast of Guardians has publicly come to Gunn’s defense. Selma Blair has started a petition urging Disney to reconsider. Bobcat Goldwaite asked Disney to remove him from an attraction in protest.
While I applauded Disney’s decision in May about Roseanne, at the moment, their reaction feels wrong about Gunn. So, what’s the difference?
In both cases, Disney knew beforehand the person with whom they were going into business with. Roseanne made no attempt to cover up some of the genuinely batshit things she said on Twitter. Neither did James Gunn, but he openly admitted that as a younger person he considered himself a provocateur who made his career off of shocking others.
So, again, what is the difference between the two? Why was Disney correct in firing Roseanne, and why did they act incorrectly this time?
In short, it’s because Gunn has owned up to his Tweets, while Roseanne blames her hate on Ambien.
Yes, that’s the difference.
James Gunn has grown as a person and changed; Roseanne has not.
This isn’t about how the news came to light, how it was brought to Disney’s attention, or who it was who did that.
If you don’t know the name Mike Cernovich, you have undoubtedly heard of Pizzagate. Just in case you don’t, Pizzagate is a debunked conspiracy theory that surfaced during the 2016 Presidential Elections that claimed Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex trafficking and pedophile ring out of a pizza shop in the Chevy Chase neighborhood in Washington D.C. The website Conservative Daily Post ran a headline falsely stating that the FBI had confirmed that story.
The man behind that conspiracy theory is Mike Cernovich. I don’t know if he came up with it, but he promoted it. Wikipedia describes Cernovich as “an American alt-right and far-right social media personality, writer, and conspiracy theorist.”
If the fact that Cernovich promoted Pizzagate didn’t give Disney cause to check their facts and reflect before coming to a decision, I don’t know what to say.
Had they checked their facts, they would have found that James Gunn did indeed make those Tweets, and even though those Tweets are offensive and incendiary, he owned up to them.
(Previously, Cernovich had gone after progressive talk radio host and MSNBC political commentator Sam Seder, and now it appears he might be going after Patton Oswalt and Michael Ian Black. Also, if you ever want to be truly disgusted, check out Cernovich’s Twitter feed. The difference between Gunn and Cernovich is that Cernovich is fucking serious when he says the vile things in his Tweets, and that should make all the difference in the world. This ALSO brings into question the things Twitter allows to remain under the guise of free speech. Our President threatened an entire nation in ALL CAPS, and Twitter didn’t bat an eye at letting it go out, as well being retweeted.)
So, while Cernovich is not promoting fake news this time, his credibility does leave a lot to be desired. Where you get your news from does matter, and Disney should know this. They would have been right to acknowledge that they knew what James Gunn had Tweeted. They would have been right to perhaps ask him to forgo a portion of his salary or back-end profits, and make a donation to a social action group that targets pedophiles and sex trafficking rings, or rape prevention and crisis centers. It would have been awesome if Disney stood behind him, and made a donation to one or all of those causes in James Gunn’s name.
Cernovich bringing to light Gunn’s old Tweets reeks of retribution for Disney having fired Roseanne.
I wish Disney considered that before making their move.
It’s not like Disney has never made a wrong move before? Song of the South, anyone? (For the record, I think that movie should be released to home video, along with copious amounts of special features that explain why this movie is not okay.). James Gunn owned up to his Tweets, and maybe Disney could own up to Song of the South instead of hiding it away in their vault.
Is James Gunn finished? No, and he shouldn’t be. He’s an incredibly talented director that kickstarted one of Marvels most successful franchises. He’s a smart director with a unique vision. Unfortunately for him, he happened to be working for Disney.
Until next time, folks. Stay level-headed.