James Gunn, the director tapped by Marvel Entertainment to bring the Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen, has released a statement of apology through the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and you should all read it. It’s gracious, sincere, and refreshing.
Here’s the full text, published by GLAAD and Gunn on his own Facebook page:
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog that was meant to be satirical and funny. In rereading it over the past day I don’t think it’s funny. The attempted humor in the blog does not represent my actual feelings. However, I can see where statements were poorly worded and offensive to many. I’m sorry and regret making them at all. People who are familiar with me as evidenced by my Facebook page and other mediums know that I’m an outspoken proponent for the rights of the gay and lesbian community, women and anyone who feels disenfranchised, and it kills me that some other outsider like myself, despite his or her gender or sexuality, might feel hurt or attacked by something I said. We’re all in the same camp, and I want to do my best to make this world a better place for all of us. I’m learning all the time. I promise to be more careful with my words in the future. And I will do my best to be funnier as well. Much love to all
This is the best of all possible outcomes, in my opinion. I’d much rather live in a world where people confront their mistakes, apologize and pledge to do better; than a world where efforts to call people out on anti-gay and sexist speech only results in greater division. Gunn confirms that he meant the post as satirical but also that it failed to reach that goal. Take instead the example set by Scott Adams, after stating that to make their lives easier, men should treat women the way they would treat the mentally handicapped, of saying that anyone who didn’t “get” the true meaning of his post simply didn’t have the high levels of “rational thought” or “reading comprehension” of his supporters.
Gunn acknowledges his commitment to speaking out in support of the LGBTQ community and women, but also doesn’t use it as an excuse to say that folks who criticized him simply “didn’t know him like that.” For a nice video that sums up why “well if you knew me you’d know I didn’t mean it that way” isn’t a particularly strong excuse in situations like this, I recommend this video on Gwyneth Paltrow, Jay Z, and Kanye West.
The pace at which this story reached news and activism outlets like GLAAD is something that might not have happened even a few years ago, and without that, an explanation for the post in Gunn’s own words might never have been forthcoming because it might never have been requested as firmly. Had his statement not been made, in the worst case scenario where the sum total of his public response was to simply take the post down and stay silent, I would have remained troubled about his involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As I said in my article on his post initially, if Gunn was just the average internet person who’d written a post that was ironically distasteful without properly presenting its intentions nearly two years ago, it would not be worth commenting on, and due to the way the internet works it would really have only been encouraging. But in 2014, Gunn will be releasing the first new characters to the MCU since 2011, with the introduction of five new superheroes. He’s in a position of great power and responsibility in the biggest movie phenomenon in comics history, and that is a position where the intent of the statements in his post should not be allowed to remain ambiguous. I’m very happy to see the character shown in this apology. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, and I’m sure some percentage of “everyone” will speak for themselves in the comments.