Inappropriate and offensive tweets gave The Walt Disney Company no other choice last Friday than to fire writer and director James Gunn — who is best known for his work in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise.
Despite the dismissal, Gunn, who had been working on the script for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, received gushing words of support from his fellow Hollywood stars.
Dave Bautista, who plays Drax in the “Guardians of the Galaxy,” took to Twitter to call Gunn a “gentle and kind” person, for example.
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“I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this,” he wrote. “@JamesGunn is one of the most loving, caring, good-natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. I’m NOT OK with what’s happening to him.”
I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this..@JamesGunn is one of the most loving,caring,good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him
— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) July 21, 2018
Zoe Saldana, who stars as Gamora in the series, also offered veiled praise for Gunn. “It’s been a challenging weekend, I’m not gonna lie. I’m pausing myself to take everything in before I speak out of [turn]. I just want everyone to know I love ALL members of my GOTG family. Always will.”
And “Evil Dead” director Fede Alvarez tweeted, “Can’t believe what Disney is doing to @JamesGunn. This nonsense culture of zero tolerance has to stop.”
On Wednesday night, Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo discussed the Gunn situation on “The Ingraham Angle” with host Laura Ingraham — and Arroyo defended Gunn’s right to free speech.
“They found tweets from seven to 10 years ago where he made fun of child rape, pedophilia and nasty stuff — and they instantly fired him,” Arroyo said. “But so long as there has been no actual criminal activity, there has to be a difference between who a person was and who a person is,” he added. “And we have to allow for the fact that people can change.”
From 2008 to 2011, Gunn tweeted some terrible jokes about child rape, pedophilia and other taboo subjects, as The Wrap noted. Right-wing activist Mike Cernovich rehashed them last Friday night. One America News’ Jack Posobiec screencapped many of the tweets (now deleted), including, “The Expendables was so manly I f***** the s*** out of the little p**** boy next to me!”
Gunn apologized for his past words in a new series of tweets. He finished by saying, “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.”
Roseanne Barr was not awarded the same level of decency after ABC fired her.
Despite this apology, the firing makes sense given the standard Disney set earlier this year. Like Marvel, Disney also owns ABC — the same network that fired “Roseanne” star Roseanne Barr for an ignorant tweet (in which she called former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett a mix between the Muslim Brotherhood and “Planet of the Apes”).
It’s also worth noting she apologized for it almost immediately after it occurred.
But Barr was not awarded the same level of decency when she was fired by ABC.
“Here’s the bottom line. If people can change, why wasn’t this same mercy awarded to Roseanne Barr?” Arroyo asked on Wednesday night. “I believe in redemption. We see this idea that certain offenses are instantly excommunicable and you’re unemployable. But some of this speech is not only accepted, but encouraged.”
Just look at the way Hollywood types treated Barr on Twitter compared to the way they treated Gunn — and a stark contrast is immediately evident.
“Will and Grace” actress Debra Messing said she was “relieved” when ABC finally canceled one of the few shows with a protagonist who supported President Donald Trump.
I just heard #rosanne is cancelled. My reaction— tears. I am so relieved and grateful. The hate that has been spewing from those in Trump’s orbit has really taken a toll on all of our souls and psyches. I didn’t believe it would happen. I had lost faith. Thank you @abc .
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) May 29, 2018
Emmy-nominated actor Kumail Nanjiani also supported the move, saying he was “glad” Barr’s show got canceled.
I'm glad Roseanne is canceled.
The backlash to its cancellation is going to be a deafening nightmare.
Nothing good has come of this entire thing.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) May 29, 2018
And “Grey’s Anatomy” show-runner Krista Vernoff tweeted she was “proud” of ABC for firing Barr.
Barr and Gunn could not be more different in terms of their political persuasions. While Barr is a staunch supporter of President Trump, Gunn prefers attacking conservatives. Earlier in the week, he called Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro an “a******” on Twitter — and he contributed to the collective outrage that led actor and director Mark Duplass to apologize for calling Shapiro a “genuine person.”
Last year, Gunn also compared Trump to Hitler — and said he did not care if his attacks on Trump resulted in a loss of fans, as IndieWire noted.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.