It’s being reported in multiple venues that James Gunn has been fired off Guardians of the Galaxy for offensive tweets.  Click through, and you’ll see some examples, we’re not going to be posting them here, but they don’t seem to be recent and some of the ones highlighted go all the way back to 2008.

It’s no secret that Gunn started out doing what he calls “taboo” humor and the tweets involved rape and pedophilia among other things.  Tasteless humor intended to shock at the time and it’s aged even worse… but it’s not like this should have been a mystery to anyone at Disney at anytime between his hiring for the first Guardians film and now.

People forget, but James Gunn used to do a series of humor shorts called “PG Porn.”  These appear to be in the process of being taken offline as quickly as possible, but here’s a link to where one of them was an IGN exclusive.  Here’s another IGN fragment and here’s the Wikipedia entry.  Now, you can’t equate “PG Porn” with pedophilia jokes, and it doesn’t appear that this series is what he was fired over, but it gives you an idea of the humor style and persona Gunn was using when he was starting out and what he was known for.

That’s why the nature of the sudden firing is so shocking.

Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn has given the following statement:

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,

Gunn has said:

My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. 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.

File this one under “developing situation.”

23 COMMENTS

  1. Those jokes are really disgusting and unfunny. But if it’s a known quantity, Disney’s just covering their butt. Even if they didn’t know, it seems more than a stretch to fire someone for something like this. If he’d sexually harassed someone or cyber-bullied someone (notice the specificity of those “someones”) that might be different. If it were ongoing and he refused to stop. That would be different. But this is a decade ago. Lord, if I was held accountable for every tasteless joke I had made, I would be swinging from the gallows. Worse, Disney gave ammunition to a group of people devoted to misinformation and gotcha politics. I’m not trying to say Gunn deserves no moral criticism, but this is an overreaction on Disney’s part, and it’s costing the MCU a vibrant perspective.

  2. What the FUCK? This twitter shit cannot be the whole story, right? They’re just bad, edgy jokes. He wrote them will no malice. Now there are people saying he should be in prison. Bad taste is not a crime!

    This has honestly saddened me. James Gunn’s commentary is always insightful, authetntic, and he’s not afraid to tell it how it is. He wrote and directed two of the best films in the MCU. Now people want to take him to the gallows, as if human beings aren’t allowed to make mistakes, be stupid, or change their ways. The culture of social justice lynching is tragic. It’s all so that stupid, small people can feel superior without having to put in any effort. Forgivness and understanding takes effort, which is why they are so unpopular. Better to shit on people’s lives for petty reasons to stroke your ego and win Twitter brownie points. We live is sad times.

    We’re all human. We all had to come from somwhere and learn and grow, and some people at different rates than others. That’s a process that necessarily involves making mistakes. Mistakes are the best learning experience. Everyone has history they would rather forget — the members of these pathetic lynch mobs are no different. Gunn is a better person than any of them. He says ” As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.” But our modern, “progressive” idiots say “It doesn’t matter if you learn and become a better person, if at some point you did something wrong you are spoiled forever and you might as well kill yourself” What sort of lesson is that for children?

    If James Gunn was (or turns out to be) a malicious person, fine. Maybe there is more to the story. But as things stand he doesn’t even deserve to be reprimanded (seeing as this all happened before he even worked for Disney), let alone fired. I’m so irritated by this.

  3. Roseanne was fired after ONE tweet that was clearly as much of an intended joke as anything Gunn wrote. AND if you look, you can find a tweet of Gunn’s where he defends Roseanne’s firing, so it’s not like he was all that concerned about defending anyone else’s freedom to tweet stupid stuff.

    A 24-year-old Major League Baseball player is facing possible punishment for garbage he tweeted when he was as young as 17. A guy just lost out on his chance to be a federal judge because of stuff he wrote as a college student in the 1990s. These are the new rules.

    Mike

  4. The major accusation revolves around Gunn posting to his blog indicated that he had masterbated to a video titled “100 Pubescent Girls Touch Themselves.”:

    http://archive.is/MdOm6

    Nobody is reporting what was in that video, which can’t be viewed in the archived copies of his blog. Some are reporting is as a literal confession of pedofilia, though.

    Seeing as it was a public Facebook video that was shared publicly and discussed openly it’s pretty clear to me this was a joke — that the title of the post would not have a literal description of the video. Based on the comments on the post, I think it must have been a video of the girls choir SCALA & Kolacny Brothers, though I couldn’t find a video from around the time Gunn made the blog post that fitted in with the post or the comments. I am curious, though.

  5. Woody Allen’s early movies have a staggering number of jokes about incest and child molesting. (Not too funny in light of recent allegations about him.) In the late ’70s, SNL had a recurring character named “Uncle Roy” (played by Buck Henry), who was a pedophile. Uncle Roy always got big laughs.

    Obviously this kind of material just isn’t so funny anymore.

    If John Hughes were around today, he’d probably get fired for the ultra-raunchy, politically incorrect humor he wrote for the National Lampoon in the ’70s. Richard Pryor would be banished for constant use of the N-word in his standup routines (and in the titles of at least two albums). Eddie Murphy’s lampoons of gays wouldn’t be deemed funny, either.

    Not only can you not do edgy humor now, you’d better hope you didn’t do it in the past, either.

  6. Interesting that Disney hasn’t fired Johnny Depp from the “Pirates” franchise, despite the domestic abuse allegations.

    It seems that alt-right troll Mike Cernovich got Gunn fired, in retaliation for Gunn’s anti-Trump tweets. Cernovich has tweeted offensive things himself (“Date rape does not exist”), but his drooling fans love him.

    ttps://www.thewrap.com/meet-mike-cernovich-the-right-wing-provocateur-who-got-james-gunn-fired/

  7. Cernovich isn’t employed by Disney or any other corporation from what I know so I’m not sure why does it matter that he is a scumbag in this context.

    But this is logical conclusion of current situation. When people can get fired for tweet it is only a matter of time before “good” people will start looking at your posting history… and I’m pretty sure that most of us have written something stupid when we were young or when we were simply misinformed about some subject. So yeah, this is problematic and I’m not sure if there is a solution for that.

  8. “It seems that alt-right troll Mike Cernovich got Gunn fired”

    As I mentioned, these are the new rules. And it wasn’t the alt-right that came up with them.

    Mike

  9. Gross. The “jokes” are vile and horrifying, and if Gunn was well known for this before GOTG I don’t know why Marvel/Disney hired him in the first place. I mean, there’s a place for raunchy humor – my own Twitter feed has plenty of retweets of absurd erotica titles, cracks about unintentionally kinky-sounding brand names, and the like – but then there’s mean-spirited, offensive, hurtful stuff like this.

    Mike Cernovich, who unearthed these tweets, is even worse. He’s advocated rape in earnest and he was one of the chief instigators of GamerGate, a vicious misogynistic harassment campaign that led to a torrent of rape and death threats against women video game developers and critics. Some of his victims had to go into hiding. GamerGate was a trial run for the propaganda, fake-news, and trolling tactics that were essential to Trump’s election. It’s one of the reasons we have children in cages, emboldened fascists marching in the streets, and a neverending flood of corruption from the highest levels of our government.

    Cernovich and Posobiec are also avid promoters of bizarre and grossly irresponsible conspiracy theories, such as “Pizzagate” – which inspired a gunman to open fire in a pizza place Cernovich and co. had baselessly claimed was hosting a child sex slave ring in its basement. (The building doesn’t even have a basement.)

    Ben Shapiro, whom they were defending, has plenty of skeletons in his own closet; last October his website Daily Wire produced and promoted on Twitter an animated video purely devoted to portraying Native Americans as bloodthirsty savages with no culture, history, technology, or knowledge.

    Firing Gunn was the right thing to do, and it surprises me that Marvel and its parent company Disney would have hired someone with an open Internet presence that disgusting in the first place. However, this was absolutely an attempt to silence criticism of the Trump administration, and a message to all other Trump critics to shut up or they’ll find anything unpleasant in your past too, and that scares me. There are no heroes in this story.

    (I also agree with George that Johnny Depp should be fired due to the evidence in the public record that he beat his ex-wife Amber Heard. The recent allegations that he punched someone on a movie set for telling him that a shoot was over, and reports of his general drug-addled dissolution, don’t help.)

  10. @George: Much of why “edgy” humor doesn’t play well any more is that a lot of people (mostly alt-right types) have used it to advance horrible ideas under the guise of “lol just trolling.” They’ll spread Nazi propaganda and call it a joke or a social experiment – but their fellow travelers and impressionable people will get the message, and so will the people it hurts.

    Plenty of these types also use a kind of “Schrodinger’s joke” to have it both ways – they’ll say something extreme and say it was a joke to people who react with outrage or disgust and say it was serious to people who cheer.

    There’s a blogger known as Popehat who famously proposed a Rule of Goats: “Even if you say you’re only f*cking goats ironically, you’re still a goatf*cker.”

  11. The irony is, if it had been someone on the Right saying the same things the same amount of time ago, Gunn would have been one of the people calling for them to be fired.

  12. So, no third Guardians movie? It has his stamp all over it so anyone else doing it will fail. What if the actors just said, well, then I’m not going to be in the movie? Maybe Disney would do a turn around. I did see that he took the high road and accepted full responsibility for his actions. If he doesn’t direct I doubt I would bother watching the third one.

  13. I thought Gunn did wonderful work with both Guardians films – but there was that one distinctly uncomfortable moment in the first movie (2014) when Drax referred to Gamora as a whore. It was a throw-away joke, not really connected to anything she did or said (that I could see) … except that she was a woman.

    I was struck by this because Gamora was one of the few female MCU characters who seemed on the same footing as the male characters. I also thought that any little girls in the audience who found her appealing (for her strength or agency or moral awakening) were just kneecapped.

    This is not to say that I now agree with his firing. I don’t. I found his apology acceptable (unlike Roseanne’s). I would have preferred that Disney found it acceptable, too. But being a provocateur means taking risks, and he was an adult when he shared those awful jokes about rape and pedophilia, just as he was when he had Drax call Gamora a whore. He rolled the dice.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I were to share jokes like his on the internet, I’d be fired, too. Even if they were from a while ago and I sincerely apologized, I’d still be out the door. This is not Big Brother, it’s ethics and business and real life.

  14. There will still be a third Guardians movie, and they may even pay Gunn for the prep work that he’s done already, including a recently-completed draft of the script.

  15. Then why not call her a monster or a murderer or a terrorist? “Whore” brings her sex into in a way that has nothing to do with what Drax hates her for, and is implicitly tied to her sex. (Would he have called a male “whore”? Not likely given how we use the word.) The joke is only funny–and I laughed at it–because of its sexism upon which it depends. Not saying Gunn is a horrible sexist, but it’s the reality of our culture and how that term has been used to insult women in particular.

  16. “Even if you say you’re only f*cking goats ironically, you’re still a goatf*cker.”

    I’m waiting for Sarah Silverman to get in trouble for calling herself a “dirty Jew.”

    This does look like payback for Roseanne Barr. Same company involved (Disney). Yes, any stupid thing you’ve said, done or written in the past can come back to haunt you — if someone decides to go after you. Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump. Then you can act like a jerk on Twitter all day with no consequences. Your followers will still love you.

    I don’t think Gunn deserved to be fired for some decade-old tasteless jokes. Unless he actually was molesting minors (as Kevin Spacey apparently was), Disney should have stood by him. They probably didn’t want the bad publicity.

    As for Johnny Depp keeping his job, I suppose it’s because he’s still a huge box-office draw overseas, even though his movies have been flopping in the U.S. for years.

  17. Can’t help thinking of a comment from director Steven Soderbergh — that when something scandalous about a celebrity comes out, it’s usually been planted (by the celeb’s studio or publicist) to deflect attention from something even WORSE.

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