An alt-right smear campaign has achieved its goal of getting Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn fired over behavior he'd long since apologized for - but it's not too late for Disney to rehire him. The campaign rolled out in the lead-up to San Diego Comic-Con 2018, where Gunn was supposed to be announcing a new project during the Sony Pictures panel. Within mere hours of the calls for Gunn to be fired gaining steam, Disney had cut all ties with the filmmaker.
The campaign was built around a collection of offensive and vulgar tweets, relating to topics like pedophilia, rape, the Holocaust, AIDS and 9/11, that Gunn had posted between 2008 and early 2012, before he was brought on board to direct the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
Disney's reaction was swift - so swift, in fact, that it's hard to believe the decision was made with a full awareness of the history behind those tweets, the history that proceeded them, and the motivations of the people who used them to take down Gunn.
- This Page: Gunn Before Guardians of the Galaxy
- Page 2: The Campaign to Get Gunn Fired
- Page 3: Why Disney Should Rehire Gunn
Gunn Before Guardians of the Galaxy
When the news broke of Gunn landing the Guardians of the Galaxy directing gig back in 2012, many were surprised - precisely because of the kind of work he was known for. Gunn's career began at Troma Entertainment, a studio whose brand was making low-budget movies that were as vulgar, disgusting and offensive as possible. Tromeo and Juliet, the first feature film written by Gunn, ends with its protagonists discovering that they are siblings, getting married anyway, and having a series of horribly deformed children produced through incest.
Gunn's edgy brand of humor continued outside of his work at Troma. Back in 2008 and 2009, he and his brothers produced a series of comedy web shorts called PG Porn, which are basically exactly what they sound like (one short, Helpful Bus, is a parody of the "fake taxi" genre of porn, in which Sean Gunn and Craig Robinson play members of a crew who genuinely do just want to give people free rides to their destination). Gunn's 2010 black comedy Super, about a man who tries to become a superhero but just ends up violently murdering people, features a scene in which Ellen Page's character rapes the protagonist that's played for laughs.
When Gunn was hired to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy, he had already built his career as a provocateur and purveyor of gross, bad taste comedy - a reputation that extended to his online presence, with tweets like "The Expendables was so manly I f***ed the s*** out of the little p****y boy next to me! The boys ARE back in town!" The tweets are indeed shocking, but that was the whole point. They were posted at a time when Gunn was known for (and indeed, made a living from) shocking output, and also at a time when shock culture was very in vogue both online and off. In 2008, YouTube was flooded with videos of people reacting to the scat porn video 2 Girls 1 Cup. In 2010, one cosplayer made a few headlines by wearing a Pedobear costume to New York Comic-Con. In 2011, the gleefully offensive card game Cards Against Humanity was the number one selling game on Amazon.
Once Gunn was confirmed to be directing a Marvel movie, it was only a matter of months before some of his offensive writing was discovered and condemned - specifically, a post on his site titled "The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With," which was blasted for its sexism and homophobia. Gunn apologized in a statement to GLAAD in November 2012, saying, "I can see where statements were poorly worded and offensive to many. I'm sorry and regret making them at all." At the time, neither Marvel nor Disney even responded to the controversy. After all, Gunn's past wasn't exactly a secret.
Page 2: The Campaign to Get Gunn Fired
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