James Gunn’s Disturbing Comments From 2011 Have Resurfaced

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It’s safe to say James Gunn is having a pretty crappy couple of days. The Guardians of the Galaxy director is notable as an outspoke prominent critic of Donald Trump and recently got in a bitter argument with Pizza-Gate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, which kicked off a far-right internet campaign to scour his social media, take tasteless things he posted about a decade ago and endlessly Re-Tweet them at Disney in an effort to get him sacked. Spoilers: It worked.

Now, beyond that, it seems that people are eager to resurrect controversies that I’d thought were dead and buried. Cast your mind back to the heady days of 2012, when Gunn had just been hired by Disney to make Guardians of the Galaxy – a move that had most audiences asking “who the hell are they?” Pretty quickly, people pointed out that Gunn had shared a post entitled “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want To Have Sex With,” and had made a number of crappy homophobic, sexist and graphic comments about various characters.

As ComicBookMovie.com notes, “some of the remarks made there are pretty horrifying, as he talks about a Marvel/DC crossover which would result in Iron Man being able to “turn” lesbian character Batwoman if he were to have sex with her. He also refers to the Stephanie Brown version of Batgirl as being “easy” because she had a baby as a teenager, while Cassandra Cain’s “daddy issues” mean she’s “just my type.” It was pretty gross stuff and the internet rightly called him out on it.

Of course, Gunn responded with an apology, saying:

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.

That seemed to be the end of it, with the director/writer going on to make two movies that were both critical and box office smashes. Now, 6 years later, people are dredging through even older comments on Twitter and have succeeded in getting him sacked – and have brought this old chestnut up again, too. Personally, I’m a little surprised that after having to go through this back in 2012, he didn’t get a social media manager and have someone quickly scrub all offensive comments from his Twitter and Facebook feed, but I suppose hindsight is 20/20.

The situation raises a ton of worrying issues about how culpable we should be for stuff we’ve posted in the past. Society at large is going on for twenty years online and fifteen years on social media, with many high profile people now working in creative industries having been online since their early teens – and if I had to go through what I was posting online when I was 14 or 15 I can guarantee I’d shudder with embarrassment.

If campaigns like this work so well, you can expect anybody with an axe to grind to try and use tactics like this to get anyone who disagrees with them sacked, potentially creating a chilling environment for political expression and debate amongst public figures. Right now, the far-right campaigners are rejoicing that their tactics have worked so well, so expect to see this happening a lot more against anyone who dares stick their head over the parapet and outspokenly criticize Trump or tries to combat white nationalists online.

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