Disney fires 'Guardians of the Galaxy' director James Gunn over offensive tweets
Since Harvey Weinstein's downfall, a lot of people in the entertainment industry have been exposed for offensive behavior. It has cost them their jobs. From Kevin Spacey's sexual assault allegations to Matt Lauer's sexual harassment allegations to Roseanne's racist tweet, we've seen famous figures drop one by one.
In the latest shocker, Disney fired director James Gunn from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Gunn directed the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, with the original making $773 million and the sequel earning $863 million worldwide. It was expected that he would direct the third movie, although it was not announced. The films, which star Chris Pratt as the superhero Star Lord, are considered some of the best in the Marvel Comics Universe. Gunn was praised for his sly, irreverent tone.
That irreverence is also his downfall. Fox News unearthed old social media posts where Gunn made offensive jokes about pedophilia and rape. Among the now-deleted tweets were: "I like when little boys touch me in my silly place." Another: "The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!'" In another now-deleted tweet, he described a monkey masturbating on a child, saying it made him "extremely happy." The other tweets, which date from 2008 to 2011, joked about AIDS, the Holocaust and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
According to Fox News, the tweets were "dug up on Thursday by critics who oppose [Gunn's] political beliefs." The director is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and often slams him on social media. For example, last January, he tweeted that he would "give 100 thousand dollars to Trump's favorite charity if he will step on an accurate scale with an impartial medical professional" and prove that he is not clinically obese.
SF Gate reported that right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich spearheaded the campaign to take Gunn down. "Twitter is just modern-day gladiatorial combat," Cernovich told The Wrap. "The Harvey Weinstein case showed us that Hollywood is rotten to the core. We are continuing our investigation into the conduct and behavior of members of the Hollywood elite." Outraged Twitter users - including comedian Patton Oswalt - are retaliating to Cernovich by digging up his old offensive tweets.
Disney severed ties with Gunn quickly. "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," said Alan Horn, Walt Disney Studios chairman. Gunn responded to the news on Twitter, saying that he used to be a provocateur back then, and has developed into a better person.
"1. Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.
2. It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.
4. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.
5. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all."
On social media, the debate rages over whether Disney was right to fire Gunn. But it's clear that today Hollywood has no tolerance for offensive behavior. If you work in the entertainment industry, you might want to delete your old social media.