Rant #15 – Gunned down.

The very first post in this blog was about humor, about offence vs intent and the aggressive ‘snowflake’ culture flourishing as of now. But that was people taking offence to a YouTube comedian’s impressions of two famous people, this is regarding a world renowned Hollywood director’s decade old tweets making light of pedophilia and homophobia. So do the same rules still apply?

In an indignant turn of events, right as he was scheduled to announce a brand new project in Hall H at SDCC, James Gunn has been dropped from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as Disney severed all ties to him over twitter outrage, yeah, that’s a thing now, and his comic-con appearance has been cancelled as well. I love James Gunn, and it is proving difficult for me to write this with no bias, but I’ll try my best. I’ve been following Gunn on Facebook, since the first guardians movie and he has been one of my favourite marvel directors. He manages his own account, replies to far too many of the comments of his fans and doesn’t shy away from getting political. His distaste towards Donald Trump is no news. If what I understood is correct, following a series of tweets by Gunn criticising Trump led some disgruntled Trump followers to dig up highly off color and offensive jokes made my Gunn on twitter around 2009. I guess all of them have been deleted now but the screencaps that remain show jokes that cover a broad spectrum of things not meant to be joked about publicly – rape, pedophilia, homophobic, transphobic – they are all there. It’s quite a spectacle. Following which his old blog has been pulled out as well, where the jokes continue. Interestingly enough the same blog also contains an apology letter from James Gunn for the nature of its content. Now the man stands, having his whole career shatter overnight.

Personally, I am all for dark humor. I’m in a number of private Facebook groups specialising in extreme dark memes, most of my friends throw around a lot of these in conversations and all of us know that none of us mean anything. However, it is agreeable that Twitter is entirely different from a private niche group. James Gunn did mention in his (second) apology that he used to make provocative jokes to get attention and that he is a different person now and just because he joked about something doesn’t mean he was living them out. The last line should go without saying as in the last decade since those jokes, none of them have reflected in his actions. He’s worked on a number of projects since then and there must have been plenty of children and homosexuals who worked with him, none of whom have ever come forward, in the last 9 years or now post his public humiliation, stating that he is indeed the man he potrays to be in all those tweets. If all the jokes we make have to be necessarily from our lives, most of us would become extremely boring instantly. Also, those who were majorly responsible for these tweets resurfacing out of nowhere seem not to care about the implications of the remarks, rather only on weaponizing the outrage caused. This was a response to Gunn’s tweet about Donald Trump, a man elected President of one of the most powerful countries in the world, in spite of his offensive tweets and speeches demeaning women and hate mongering, in the past, during his campaign and continuing presently. The people who painstakingly worked to find out the 9 year old tweets were majorly said president’s supporters, conservatives who are very vocal about their hate for anything ‘non-American’ and/or ‘non-Christian’, people who would gladly agree with and do actually live out those homophobic and transphobic tweets. It is rather enraging to picture them satisfied of their victory.

Is this all it takes? A twitter uprising? No formal investigation, no chance to explain himself. It was, for the lack of a better phrase, a dick move by Disney firing him in an instant. Robert Downey Jr. turned around from a drug addict into the superstar he is now and is raking in millions for disney, could’ve shown similar consideration and professionalism over this issue as well. Almost every news outlet publishing this news mentions that it’s a smear campaign and political sabotage. Disney could’ve atleast waited or launched an investigation into whether Gunn has discriminated against or abused anyone who’s worked with him. Actions are said to speak louder than words. Turns out tweets shout the loudest.

James Gunn’s apology –

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.

3. In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies.

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.

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