We are living in a bizarre timeline when school-shooting survivors attempting to hold elected officials accountable are ridiculed and dismissed as being “crisis actors.” This is a time when the global respect for our country is at a disturbingly dangerous low, and we find ourselves trapped in a world where Jalen Rose co-hosts two television shows. From everything between the Golden State Warriors becoming the most unstoppable sports franchise around, to actual Nazis marching in a U.S. city, we are witnessing events we couldn’t have dreamed of even only five years ago. However, here we are: Kobe Bryant has an Academy Award… and LeBron James is the best player on the Lakers.
The more things change, the less they begin to make sense. This week, for example, movie nerds everywhere were forced to put their love/hatred for THE LAST JEDI on hold in order to express their outrage over a family-friendly company cutting its ties with a successful director who once posted some really stupid shit on Twitter. Now, normally, severely unfunny examples of dark and ‘edgy’ humor are indefensible (‘shock humor’ needs both parts of the phrase in order to work). However, because this particular social media idiot grew up to make really cool superhero movies, way too many people are rushing to defend a standup guy who posted more than a few inappropriate tweets about kid-fucking.
Okay, let’s take a step back for a second for a quick refresher. I think the overly-sensitive ‘P.C.-culture’ is ruining comedy; as well as being its own worst enemy. Much like the boy who cried “HELP! James Gunn is after me,” the more things that are labeled “offensive,” the less we correctly identify and eliminate actual problems. And Gunn’s years-old tweets (the most recent was from 2012) weren’t even the actual reason Michael Cernovich (an alt-right social media personality and ‘men’s rights’ advocate) decided to expose the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY director.
Cernovich (who regularly posts even worse shit than Gunn ever did) simply used old tweets — that seemingly made light of non-consensual sex with sometimes-damaged minors — as a tool for a politically-motivated attack on someone who has been outspoken about his dislike of the current president. To that end, the fan outrage over Gunn’s firing IS justified (and Disney just set a bad precedent for themselves in terms of potential future acts of borderline and carefree blackmail). For this reason alone, Disney’s decision to not support Gunn today when they knew about those tweets years ago is shameful and disappointing.
However, I must ask this: Why the fuck were those tweets still available to be read on Gunn’s verified account? This is a grown man (turning 52-years-old in a couple of weeks) who was writing and posting horrible ‘jokes’ online in his ’40s. He even apologized for his comedic attempts years ago in an effort to save his job with Disney… but he never thought to delete them? Yes, everything on the Internet lasts forever, but damage control is a real thing. Disney dropped the ball by not supporting Gunn, but the man didn’t do himself any favors, either.
My favorite thing, however, is watching people fall all over themselves in an attempt to defend shitty humor. Like, you can believe that James Gunn was wrongfully dismissed from the third GUARDIANS movie while admitting that the ‘jokes’ were neither funny or actual jokes. The sheer volume of references to pedophilia is a completely different conversation that has been mostly ignored, but the hypocrisy of Gunn’s supporters — many of whom were quick to rightfully criticize Roseanne Barr’s disgusting tweet — is appalling.
Fandom and the rush to support ‘our guy’ is troubling whether you are talking about James Gunn, or Anthony Anderson, or Josh Hader, or Johnny Depp, or Donald Trump. Disney also looks weak as hell for allowing a morally-irreprehensible racist to bully them into a compromising position (although, truth be told, Disney’s own less-than-reputable history will firmly keep a target on its back).
This was an actual witch hunt, and I don’t think Gunn deserved to be fired… but, in this day and age, he damn well should have known better. Any one of us would be fired for those public tweets, and, surprisingly, the constant desire to joke about kid rape is probably never a good thing.
Even if you make totally awesome comic book movies.