Important Takeaways From James Gunn Interview About His Firing/Rehiring on Guardians 3
James Gunn has broken his silence on his controversial firing and rehiring at Disney/Marvel in an interview with Deadline.
Last year, a conservative personality “unearthed” some really disgusting tweets that Gunn made during his “edgelord” days of comedic style. The person who brought these tweets to the public—and doesn’t deserve the additional attention of spreading his name—was a pro-Trump fake news promoter who spread Pizzagate lies. He is a racist, an anti-semite, and encouraged his Twitter followers to target one of the women who came forward about Roy Moore’s sexually predatory behavior.
While I was dismissive of Gunn’s first apology that he made via Twitter, his subsequent apology that he released on Buzzfeed did seem more like the words of someone who was truly taking responsibility for what he’d sad. Gunn had support from all the Guardians cast members, online personalities, and many others who felt that even though the “jokes” were gross, the politics behind digging them up were disturbing.
Gunn was then hired by Marvel’s rival, Warner Bros., to direct a rebooted Suicide Squad movie. In August, Disney doubled down and said it wouldn’t rehire him, but that was blown up when, in March, Disney rehired Gunn as the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
What most impressed me out of this new interview was the responsibility that Gunn takes for his actions. He doesn’t cast blame on anyone and recognizes his flaws in not being more compassionate. That really stuck with me.
“I don’t blame anyone. I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humor, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I’m putting out there. I know that people have been hurt by things that I’ve said, and that’s still my responsibility, that I wasn’t as compassionate as I should be in what I say. I feel bad for that and take full responsibility. Disney totally had the right to fire me. This wasn’t a free speech issue. I said something they didn’t like and they completely had the right to fire me. There was never any argument of that.”
In all the conversations we’ve had about this, there have been men who have been able to come to terms with their bad behavior, even when that behavior went beyond “jokes.” Aziz Ansari recently got to that place, and Dan Harmon was one of the first, and I think that Gunn can be added to that bittersweet trilogy. What’s also important is that Gunn admits that he felt anger at himself, but had to let that go because that wasn’t going to be the way he changed. Anger doesn’t lead to growth unless you learn to let go of it.
“The truth is I had a lot of anger at myself and I really had to try to put that aside. Because in the same way where I know what I’ve done wrong, I know that I’ve done a lot of wrong things in my life, things that led to this moment. I had to realize what I needed to do differently in my life. That was a part of all of this.
“But in the same way I needed to not be lashing out at whoever fired me, or whoever spread links online, or cut up pictures to look like this or that, I also had to let go of some of that rage towards myself as well. Otherwise I just wasn’t going to be able to make it through.”
We cannot ignore right-wing trolls thinking they could get away with feigning moral outrage as a cudgel to flex their power. Gunn has been consistently humble, has not made excuses for himself, and still in this interview, doesn’t place the blame on anyone but himself. That’s literally all we can ask for beyond not saying the offending things in the first place. We can’t look into people’s hearts, but we can look at the actions of others, and when so many men who have done worse still make excuses for themselves, Gunn is using his experiences as an example of showing true remorse and growth. I choose to believe him.
“There’s a lot of really positive stuff that’s coming out of all of this, and one of those positives is I was able to learn. People have to be able to learn from mistakes. If we take away the possibility for someone to learn and become a better person, I’m not sure what we are left with. I’ve learned all kinds of things about myself through this process.”
I’d never tell people who were offended and hurt by Gunn’s comments to let him in with open arms. What I will say is that, for me, I know we talk about accountability and looking for people to take ownership, and Gunn has done that. He has taken accountability, hasn’t placed blame, and is working to live up to the standards he sets for himself today. It’s also great to show that growth can happen at any age. He made those comments in his 40s, and now, at 52, he has worked to become a different person, and that’s hopeful—at least in my mind.
What did you all think of the interview and the whole issue surrounding Gunn, now that he put his own perspective into the conversation?
(via Deadline, image: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
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