Pop Culture

James Gunn Was Fired For Old Tweets Because Disney Listened To The "Pizzagate" Guy

Looks like it won't be Thanos who takes the Guardians down after all.
Looks like it won't be Thanos who takes the Guardians down after all. Marvel Studios
James Gunn, director of the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, was fired from GotG Vol. 3 by Disney last week after tweets Gunn wrote several years ago were brought to light by conservative Twitter crusaders led by Mike Cernovich. Gunn has since released a statement (on Twitter, of course) reinforcing apologies he's already made and accepting the decision to boot him.

Disney knew about his old tweets, and his script for Tromeo and Juliet, and a sexist/anti-LGBT post he wrote (since deleted) called "The 50 Superheroes You Most Want To Have Sex With" for which he was rightfully slammed. Hell, Gunn's last gig before GotG was the web series PG Porn, which featured regular actors alongside porn stars in send-ups of the genre's easily spoofed plot conventions.

Disney had no problem with any of this.

The tweets in question (look them up) are, by any objective measure, fucking terrible. They're tasteless and uniformly unfunny, and it's frankly baffling that Gunn was making pedophilia and rape jokes as recently as 2011. And while it's hard to believe that someone at the studio (or Gunn himself) didn't thnk: "Hey, these tweets are a bad look for an A-list director and maybe we ought to, I dunno, fucking delete them," they're also clearly (bad) jokes. Gunn claims he's matured as a person, and those who've worked with him on the Guardians movies (Dave Bautista and Michael Rooker and Gunn's brother Sean among them) have already started coming forward to support him.

Gunn is not a pedophile. At least, I seriously doubt it, as most pedophiles (one assumes) go out of their way to hide the fact they molest children instead of tweeting about it. The easier explanation is that Gunn got his start at Troma, whose bread and butter has always been tasteless and/or gross-out humor. Not that he's part of some vast kiddie diddler ring secretly running Hollywood and Washington out of the basement of a pizza joint.

James Gunn may never work for Disney again, and given the company's slow but steady absorption of media properties, that could be a more far-reaching consequence than we realize. However, the backlash to the firing — like that against previous Cernovich hit job Sam Seder — is fairly intense, and it seems likely he'll get another director gig somewhere. Even if he doesn't, he'll be fine.

But what about Cernovich's next target?

Cernovich, who was exhaustively profiled in The New Yorker in 2016 (and less charitably so by the Huffington Post just two days ago), is a 40-year old man who still uses terms like "basic bitch," "cuck," and "triggered," the better to speak the language of the maladroits whose attention he commands. These are a few examples of his many tweets.

Cernovich, who has deleted tweets referring to diversity as "white genocide" and who regularly tosses the epithet "faggot" at those who disagree with him, was himself accused of rape in 2003 (charges were dropped, he did comunity service for misdemeanor battery) and lives mostly on the largesse of a divorce settlement from his first wife (what he described as a "seven-figure sum"). He also doesn't know how to drive a car. Truly, a paragon of masculinity.

He and the others who have leapt on the bandwagon to criticize Gunn (including not-Zodiac Killer Ted Cruz) for tasteless tweets nevertheless show no reservations about endorsing a man who's committed actual sexual assault (Donald Trump) as well as an actual child molester (Roy Moore). It's all good though, because Cernovich and certain others I'm not linking remain convinced (or act like they're convinced) they're exposing massive pedophile conspiracies operating in Hollywood and Washington.

Just so we're clear: Walt Disney Studios followed the lead of a — let's call him a "rape enthusiast" — who ginned up hysteria in order to ratfuck a guy who had not coincidentally been tweeting criticism of Donald Trump. The firing of James Gunn is a huge coup for Cernovich and his ilk (who, let's be honest, don't actually give a shit about pedophilia) and is only going to encourage them.

And it's all part of a wider and ongoing conservative threat to speech: Peter Thiel's takedown of Gawker, Sinclair Broadcast Group forcing reporters to read pro-Trump propaganda, Semanal buying — and subsequently gutting — LA Weekly, to say nothing of the the President declaring reporters "enemies of the people." Journalists are already under assault, and now they have to worry alt-right bullies with nothing better to do will hunt down a years-old tweet and use it to get them fired. And if Gunn, a director whose movies have brought in hundreds of millions for Disney, isn't safe, who is?

Meanwhile, Johnny Depp, the guy who actually put his hands on Amber Heard, is still the face of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. John Lasseter, who will (allegedly) leave the company at the end of 2018 following allegations of sexual misconduct, is still employed by Disney as a consultant. And the studio still makes money from DVD sales of Powder, directed by Victor Salva, who was convicted of sexual misconduct with a child. It seems real crimes against women and children aren't as serious to Disney as imaginary ones.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar