Some thoughts on James Gunn, the Twitter Lynch Mob, and the New Cultural Revolution

When I checked into twitter today, the first thing that I saw was that James Gunn had been fired as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3.

Specifically, he was fired because of tweets.  That seems to be the reason that everyone is fired nowadays.  It just takes one bad tweet to basically end your career.  One offensive tweet and suddenly, you’re a nonperson.  One tweet that strays from what’s been judged acceptable that week and suddenly, people who have praised and worked with you in the past will suddenly declare that they never really liked you.  They always knew something was off.

It’s become a contests of sorts.  People of differing ideologies compete to see who from the opposing side they can take down.  Usually, the Left seems to have more success when it comes to destroying people online but Gunn was targeted by the Right.  (Apparently, Mike Cernovich was one of the instigators of the outrage that led not only to Gunn getting fired from not just GoTG3 but also kicked out of the MCU.)

Gunn was fired for tweets that weren’t even recent.  Ten years ago, before Gunn had even joined the MCU, he was best known as the most talented filmmaker to ever graduate from Troma’s House of Horrors.  I followed Gunn on twitter long before he found mainsteam popularity as a part of the MCU.  And yes, in those days, James Gunn’s humor often was dark and twisted and, when taken out of context, often deliberately offensive.  So what?  That was Gunn’s way of pointing out that we live in a world that is often dark and twisted and deliberately offensive.  If you watch Gunn’s early films — like Super, for instance — you’ll find an artist who, in the style of Wes Craven, John Waters, and Paul Morrissey, was determined to shock audiences out of their complacency.  When Gunn made a joke about something terrible, the jokes wasn’t meant to be celebratory.  Instead, it was an expression of anger that we live in a world where such things exist in the first place.

(There’s an old expression about laughing so you don’t cry.  Apparently, in our new irony-free world, that’s no longer an option.)

What’s particularly fucked up is that Gunn apologized for those tweets when the first Guardians of the Galaxy came out.  At the time, Disney accepted the apology and Gunn’s explanation that he was a different person than he was today.  Is this the way the world’s going to work now?  Is it now acceptable for us to accept someone’s apology until we change our mind?

There’s a lot of celebration on twitter right now over Gunn being fired.  The Breitbart crowed is happy to have taken down a famous critic of Donald Trump’s.  The Woke crowd is happy because they feel they’ve claimed another scalp.  The twitter lynch mob is out in full force and it’s a bit sickening to watch.  Even those who are defending Gunn feel the need to say, “I found his tweets to be offensive…”

Here’s my thing:

I don’t give a fuck whether his tweets were offensive.  The tweets don’t matter.  They’re not the issue.  What is an issue is that the spirit of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution — in which centuries of Chinese history and culture were destroyed and erased while millions were murdered by a bunch of activists determined to prove how ideologically pure they were — is alive and well on twitter.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that you do find Gunn’s 10 year-old tweets to be offensive.  Are we saying that people can’t change?  If people are only willing to support artists who were “woke” from the minute they were born, it’s going to be a sad and boring world.

Eventually, there’s going to be a backlash against all of this stuff that’s going on right now. That’s just the way history works.  And the more smug and fanatical people are in the present, the bigger the backlash is going to be in the future.  Many of the people who are currently celebrating the downfall of James Gunn will probably be among the next ones to fall.

UPDATE: In the comments, Chuck Lantz points out that I didn’t include any of Gunn’s “controversial” tweets.  As I told him, I didn’t necessarily feel that I needed to because my entire argument is that Gunn’s six year-old tweets didn’t matter.  Perhaps if Gunn had tweeted some of this stuff yesterday or even a year ago, I would feel differently but Gunn has already apologized for these tweets and, as I argued above, most of them are being taken out of context.  All of them were obviously meant to be sarcastic.  Whether anyone finds them funny or not is beyond the point and not particularly important.

But, I also see Chuck’s point.  So, here are three of the tweets that have been specifically highlighted on twitter by many of the people demanding that James Gunn be fired:

7 responses to “Some thoughts on James Gunn, the Twitter Lynch Mob, and the New Cultural Revolution

    • Personally, I don’t think the tweets matter. If they had been written yesterday or even a year ago, I might feel differently. My point is that Gunn shouldn’t be fired for ten year-old tweets that he has already apologized for. But, I also get your point so I’m going to update the post to include three tweets that are frequently being cited on Twitter.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Update: OK, I found the offending Tweets. The only thing Gunn is guilty of is very dry, very sarcastic Dark humor. SUPER dark. All of which flew way, way over the empty heads of the far-right critics who loudly, and hypocritically complained to Disney, et al.

      And while I can sort of understand MCU’s and Disney’s position, it’s a damned tragedy that nut-cases like Cernovich are being listened-to by otherwise normal people.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yikes! I just found out about all this. I’m surprised Disney was swayed to even make such a decision. It wasn’t like Gunn was currently spewing any kind of nonsense, especially with the Guardians films being so successful. Hope they reconsider and Gunn bounces back from the whole thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The faux-outrage that Cernovich ginned up among his cult-like sycophants is pretty sickening. Cernovich himself has written that “there is no such thing as date rape,” that “every real alpha male has had at least one false rape charge filed against him,” and that when it comes to your cock, “when in doubt—whip it out” to “impress” a woman. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And the big difference? He wasn’t kidding in any of these instances. He was also one of the biggest instigators of the whole “pizzagate” lie. As to your bringing up the cultural revolution in China, look — obviously there’s no excusing the murder of 10 million-plus people, but that’s the kind of shit that happens when the peasants are literally starving to death while a small handful of feudal lords hoard all of a nation’s wealth. That’s why the rich in the US would do well to alleviate some of the outrageous income inequality that’s going on today — ultimately, it might just save their coddled, well-fed asses. Cernovich’s digital lynch mob, in contrast to Mao’s followers, doesn’t have too much to bitch about — his “fans” are almost entirely white, male,straight, and doing alright for themselves. Gunn wasn’t depriving them of anything, they just didn’t like his nominally leftist politics, and it’s a shame Disney buckled under to their pressure campaign. Let’s not kid ourselves, though — if poor-taste jokes about child sexual abuse actually offended these people, then why the hell did they all vote for a guy who has said on more than one occasion that “if she wasn’t my daughter, I’d probably be dating her”? I don’t have a ton of sympathy for Gunn personally — he’s rich, and will be afforded some sort of opportunity to rebuild his career, probably in the indie scene, but the hypocrisy of this whole situation if just straight-up unconscionable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a sad world we now live in, where something one said (or Tweeted) long, long ago results in lives ruined. Who among us hasn’t said something in the past they now regret? Who hasn’t changed and grew over time? Personally, I find Twitter completely ridiculous… between the constant barrages of PC nonsense on BOTH sides of the political spectrum, and the continuous corporate ads on my feed, I don’t enjoy it much. I only go on to continue my mission that I started on my blog – to keep classic movies alive and in the public consciousness before they’re forgotten entirely. As for Gunn’s Tweets, it’s pretty obvious he’s not serious. But the PC police (again, on BOTH sides) can’t take a fucking joke. Are they offensive? Hell, yeah, but so were many pioneering comedians and filmmakers who battled the censors and opened the floodgates for freedom of speech for performing artists today. Like I said, it’s a sad world we now live in.


  4. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 7/16/18 — 7/22/18 | Through the Shattered Lens

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