James Gunn Fired From ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Over Offensive Tweets | Deadline

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James Gunn Fired From ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Franchise Over Offensive Tweets

by Mike Fleming Jr July 20, 2018 12:15pm
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UPDATED (keep refreshing as this shocking story mushrooms): The open question now of whether James Gunn will follow through on plans he tweeted to come to San Diego Comic-Con today for the Sony Pictures panel, where he produced a horror film and was prepared to stump it in a surprise appearance: he’s not. Insiders say he will not attend the session set for 6:15 at Hall H.

Related James Gunn Won't Appear At Comic-Con After Being Axed From 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'

PREVIOUS: James Gunn has been removed as director of the Guardians Of The Galaxy series after a batch of old social media dispatches were unearthed that touched on areas like pedophilia and rape. In the latest shocking #metoo development in the entertainment industry, Gunn was severed from the Marvel Comics Universe after a slew of social media posts he wrote before getting Guardians of the Galaxy surfaced. According to Fox News, they were posted because Gunn is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and the effort was to knock him down a few pegs.

Mission accomplished. Gunn has long been a provocateur who has drawn ire in the past for his unusual humor. Among the tweets that forced Disney and Marvel’s hand 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!’” There were others that made satirical comments about the 9/11 attack, AIDS and the Holocaust. Yet another described a monkey masturbating on a young child, and his commentary that it made him “extremely happy.” These missives were not funny and entirely disturbing, given a preoccupation with fetishing underage boys. That left him a sitting duck for his retroactive social media commentary.

Disney responded quickly and decisively: “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, in a statement just released.

Disney and Marvel had never announced that Gunn would direct the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy, but Gunn certainly declared it on social media. And after Guardians of the Galaxy 2 last summer grossed $863 million worldwide, to the original’s $773 million, there was every expectation he would remain at the helm. After all, the sly humor and tone that just crushed his career trajectory helped fuel the irreverently humorous tone of the Guardians franchise.

Since the fall of Harvey Weinstein, a heightened level of sensitivity in Hollywood has led to one headline after another, from Scarlett Johansson withdrawing from playing a transgender character in the $30 million New Regency film Rub & Tug, to Paramount TV chief Amy Powell being fired for alleged racially insensitive statements. This was just the past nine days.

The idea of being held to task for old social media posts might be new to Hollywood, but we see it rear up all the time in sports, most recently when all-star Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader was forced to apologize for old homophobic and racist posts made while he was in high school in 2012.

The first sign of the potential damage here came with the racist Roseanne tweet directed toward Valerie Jarrett that got her tossed off the revival of the sitcom that bore her name. She has been apologizing and rationalizing since, but that sitcom was the bright spot in the ABC schedule, and the Disney-owned network made the hard call to drop her, same as it has Gunn. The network has reconstituted a spinoff with the remaining cast, creatives and crew, calling the show The Conners, but it remains to be seen whether it will be embraced without the show’s lightning rod comedienne.Other incidents include the time when one and one-half of the Two and a Half Men cast were felled by outlandish social media messaging, as both Charlie Sheen and Angus T. Jones issued volatile statements that disparaged the long running hit sitcom.

This opens a new can of worms, and might well have Hollywood people trying to strike old missives. What studio looking to hire a director or cast for a major franchise or family friendly film won’t first look back into past social media posts, because this powderkeg was hiding in plain sight and Disney had to know about it because he was posting with regularity back then.

It reinforces yet again that social media is a fine place to wish people happy birthday and sell things, but the need to foist personal opinions that stick like napalm, is potentially a career ending decision. Gunn’s missives in particular were beyond the pale, and have no place in a family friendly environment that is the core of Disney values. It wasn’t like he was registering these opinions after his career changed dramatically with Guardians of the Galaxy. When he was directing films like Slither, nobody cared much what he thought. But his outspoken liberal opinions made him an easy target for anyone who keeps a record of such outrageous commentary, whether it was delivered sarcastically or not.

Gunn’s Twitter feed was down for a bit, but it’s back up and it’s easy to see he is unsparing in his language. For instance: asked why he was taking part in a reading with a convicted pedophile, he answered: “Yeah, that was the point of the tweets, dummy. I left. I showed up to the reading and there was a convicted pedophile there – Victor Salva, the director of Jeepers Creepers, and I was fucking horrified.” Salva had served time for molesting a cast member on an early film of his. That was revealed in the run up to the release of Jeepers Creepers, which ironically was released by Disney.

We found these tweets below in a report by Fox News, and perhaps it is not a coincidence that it came from that outlet. Fox News got its ammo from The Daily Caller, One America News Network correspondent Jack Posobiec and right wing commentator Mike Cernovich, and apparently these conservative outlets pounced on old social media after Gunn mocked conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, as he defended liberal actor Mark Duplass after he came under fire and apologized for encouraging his followers to give Shapiro a chance, in the name of hearing views from the other side of the aisle. That is nothing compared to some of the tweets unearthed by Cernovich, which included suggestions that readers email Disney, to complete the takedown.

Here is Gunn defending the prior tweets, which were aggregated by Fox News before his Twitter feed was taken down.

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.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
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.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
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.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
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.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018

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