Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Disney's Gunn Control

A few weeks ago, Disney decided to unceremoniously fire James Gunn from the Marvel movie franchise.

Gunn had risen through the ranks at Marvel by writing and directing both  Guardians of the Galaxy
movies and achieving the position of co-executive producer on Avengers: Infinity War.  But recently,
internet commentator Mike Cernovich put a spotlight on a number of things Gunn has posted over the
years that are, at best, in bad taste and, at worst, horrifically perverse.

I have held back my commentary on this only because I have a natural aversion to mob mentality.  
In the age of social media, a story can whip thousands, if not millions, into a frenzy demanding drastic
action.  This can be particularly destructive if someone innocent is being targeted. The public outrage
and firing of Gunn was so fast that I wasn't sure if all of the relevant facts were out.

James Gunn spent a good portion of his early career trying to push the envelope
of good taste with his jokes and his movies.  At first I did only a superficial sampling of
the offensive tweets. Based on what I saw in that initial view, I saw a struggling filmmaker who was
trying to get noticed by making shock-value jokes.  These tweets were intentionally tasteless to get
attention. I see this behavior often in teenagers who are excited to shock anyone by their words and
behavior in order to get any kind of reaction.  You can find similar jokes from comedians like Patton
Oswalt and Sarah Silverman.

My initial reaction after this first look was that none of this should be new to Disney,
who hired Gunn.

The Mouse House didn't fire him because of what he had written in the past.  They fired him because
the general public found out about it and got upset.

Do not misunderstand, that doesn't excuse Gunn.  I'm saying if Disney was actually concerned with the
character of the people they hire, they should not have given him the job in the first place.  I always fear
acquiescing to mobs. Doing so only encourages more of this behavior. I saw this happen with Orson
Scott Card, who was pushed out of DC Comics because he supports the same moral position on
“gay marriage” that the Catholic Church does.  It is easy to foment outrage online. But that doesn't
exclude the possibility that Gunn was worthy of such outrage.

After my initial thoughts, I waited for more information and did a little more digging.

Let us put aside most of his tasteless jokes.  I remember as a child, my brother and I found
books with the most disgusting jokes you could imagine.  They were so outrageous that
we could not stop reading them to each other.  I look back on that time with great shame
and revulsion and I am so grateful that today this type of humor fills me with disgust.
I have grown and matured beyond that humor.  I am willing to believe that Gunn may have outgrown
this immature humor as well.  Granted, Gunn was much older than I was when he was
throwing out these horrific "jokes," but I can accept that a man can change over time, if
given the chance.

However after looking at all of the relevant facts that I could, I am going to have to agree with Disney’s
decision.  There are two main reasons for this. I will attempted to be as exact as possible, but it will be
difficult to do so and not descend into vulgarity.

1.Real Children

Gunn posted a story in which he witnessed a trained monkey perform a sex act that traumatized a
young boy.  Gunn wrote about how this incident made him laugh and laugh.

Most of Gunn’s “joke” tweets sound like they could be made up out of the ether.  But this incident is
presented as real. Gunn publicly expressed emotional pleasure at real life innocent child being sexually

In addition, someone shared a video with Gunn that he hosted on his own website.  I will give the title
of the video, but it implied that involved minors. The video itself (I have not looked at it, but I have
read reports), is not an illegal video, but involves many young girls of various ages singing the one
hit of the band the Divinyls.  When asked about his reaction to it, Gunn made a vulgar remark that
said that he was sexually excited by it.

Again, this is not something in the abstract.  Gunn was commenting and sexualizing real life girls.  

As I wrote above, I refuse to look up the video itself, so I will take correction if the people in the video
are all adults.  But from the accounts I have read, they are not.

2. Real Crimes?

I credit the mighty John Nolte for not letting this name fall through the cracks of the scandal: Huston

This is the person who supplied the video to Gunn.  He someone that Gunn has met. He is also
someone who is now a convicted sex offender who tried to solicit illegal material from children.

Now, Gunn may not have any control over who enters his circle or be able to vet every single person
with whom he interacts.  The problem is that their level of association has not been fully investigated.
Is Huddleston simply a crazy person who’s toxic presence is throwing a taint on an innocent Gunn?
 Or do Gunn and Huddleston connect because of their malevolent predilections?

Either possibility seems possible to me, but Gunn posted a video with such an illegal sounding title
from Huddleston and then made sexual comments on it.

Disney may be only cutting Gunn because of mob outrage.  But if I was Disney, I would cut him too.
He may have delivered some incredibly profitable films.  But once the story broke, Disney would be in
serious trouble if they kept him. Imagine if they didn’t fire him and then later he was accused of
something inappropriate with a child on set.  Even if the charge was false, Disney could be held
accountable for not taking proper action when they had noticed. Look at all of the ire that the Catholic
Bishops are enduring because of their lack of action, even when they had suspicions that someone
was a predator.

No matter what your take on the situation, I think we should all pray for James Gunn.

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