Something has been bothering me over the weekend. Actually, it’s been bothering me for a couple of months now…..and when I really dig into this, it’s been bothering me for years now.
Several years back, television cooking personality Paula Deen saw her television career go completely up in flames because of a racist remark she was said to have made many years earlier. I’m not really a fan of cooking shows, and I’m even less a fan of anyone making racist remarks. But at the time, I remember clearly thinking, “Huh. That seemed to be an overreaction.”
Recently, a similar thing happened to Roseanne Barr. Again, her entire career as a comedian and an actor exploded because of something she tweeted. Not only was she punished, but so was the hundreds of people who had jobs because of the successful revival of her television series-----and punished as well, in turn, were the millions of fans who were enjoying the return of her series. What she said was absolutely thoughtless, stupid and unfunny. But in the end, it was just words. And again, I felt that this was an overreaction….I just didn’t know how to express it coherently.
Now, something similar has happened again. Over the last several years, the director James Gunn has produced two absolutely fun and exciting sci-fi films for the Disney’s Marvel Studios. The GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY films are about a group of misfits banding together to save countless worlds from dangerous threats. A rogue human, the warrior daughter of a galactic despot, a powerful warrior who takes everything he hears far too literally, a snarky raccoon….and a tree. It was an obscure comic book that no one had ever heard of, featuring characters that few people outside a comic book store had ever seen, in a Star Wars setting that we’ve all seen too many times. Very easily, it could have been a forgettable disaster. Because of James Gunn’s choice of tone, script, humor, and that awesome mix of 70’s music, this movie that should have been the hardest sell for any Hollywood studio became a blockbuster surprise. It led to a sequel, the Guardians involvement in this year’s AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, and the forthcoming third chapter featuring our favorite new scoundrels and rogues.
Last weekend, it was revealed that almost ten years ago, James Gunn posted some distasteful jokes about rape and pedophilia. He was immediately fired as the director for the next GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film.
Well. I’ve had enough of this shit. Time to say something. Folks, we’re taking this too far.
We have, as a society, become so sensitive and so easily offended, that entire careers are being derailed based on what someone has said or tweeted.
I’ve read the posts that Gunn had tweeted years ago. They weren’t funny then, and they aren’t now. I can’t and won’t defend Roseanne Barr’s remarks, nor what Paula Deen had said years ago.
I have to stand up and say that I find it terribly unfair that someone like James Gunn, and Roseanne Barr, and Paula Deen, and anyone else who was fired for something they said or tweeted-----it’s unfair that they should receive basically the same punishment as Harvey Weinstein, or Kevin Spacey, or any of the other men who have physically assaulted or abused their power to get what they want.
In this MeToo era, the studios have become terrified that if they don’t immediately fire James Gunn for something he tweeted years ago, their consumers will boycott and protest and stop buying tickets.
I think it’s time that we, as consumers, also remind them that these overreactions will also alienate their viewers. I happen to love Disney, and I will still enjoy their films and products. But overreactions like this will color my opinion. Maybe I won’t go see every movie at the theaters, perhaps I’ll wait until it comes out on RedBox. Maybe I won’t pay full retail for their new DVDs, I’ll just wait until I can buy a used copy at the Disc Exchange. Maybe I’ll put off that trip to DisneyWorld for a vacation at Universal Studios instead. Maybe millions more people will feel the same way, because this was honestly quite unfair.
James Gunn should feel embarrassed about what he said ten years ago, and an apology is in order. (From what I understand, he was pretty good about releasing one.) But we can not and should not levy the same punishment for things people said as for things that people have done.
Paula Deen should have been given the opportunity to donate some money or charity work to educate people on the futility and unfairness of racism. Roseanne Barr should have kept her job as long as she attended sensitivity courses and did a bit of charity work as well to teach her the lessons of not saying whatever stupid thing comes through your mind at any time. And James Gunn should do some similar charity work on behalf of the folks he’s offended, and continue doing a job that brings joy to millions of fans around the world.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. If you think there’s even a nugget of truth to what I said, we can start by letting big corporations know that they shouldn’t be so quick to overreact, especially to something that was said years ago and wouldn’t even be known unless some nameless troll with his or her own hidden agenda hadn’t dug it up out of the cobwebs of the past and shown it to everyone. Seriously, to whoever did that…..what exactly did you benefit from this, other than proving that people sometimes say stupid things?
For now, if you agree with what I said, I invite you to sign the petition circulating on change.org that calls for Disney to re-hire James Gunn as the director of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3. He should accept a fine or a punishment or something. But if given the reality that he did not actually rape someone or suggestively touch a minor, we should not be treating him as if he had.
That is the true injustice. Disney should be brave enough to say, “Hey, there’s a big difference between the two. Let’s see if we can work this out.”
Let's be fair.
If you feel Disney over-reacted and you would like to sign the petition to re-instate James Gunn's firing, please sign this petition and remind them there should be varying degrees of punishment.
TAKE ME TO THE PETITION!