Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn has been excommunicated from the Marvel Universe.
Less than 24-hours after right-wing commentators unearthed a series of offensive jokes Gunn previously posted to Twitter between 2008-11, Disney chairman Alan Horn fired the filmmaker from the upcoming Guardians Vol. 3, stating, “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” according to The Wrap.
— Jack Posobiec🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 20, 2018
If you’re eager to stoke the fires of your moral indignation by seeing the offending tweets, you can find them elsewhere, including in this gleeful Fox News post which, by the third sentence has already pointed out that Gunn “is an outspoken liberal who often criticizes President Trump.”
Gunn’s old jokes are horribly, irredeemably tasteless. But they are — unequivocally — jokes, not endorsements of immoral, criminal behavior. It’s a profoundly sad indictment of our culture that this distinction even needs to be made.
If you’re disturbed by Gunn’s sense of humor circa 2008-11, I get it. But the filmmaker’s liberal allies should still view his firing as deeply troubling news on a number of levels, the least of which are the creative consequences.
The culture wars have claimed another victim, this time with truly alarming expedience. Liberals who are quick to dismiss this with “well, he shouldn’t have said that to begin with” would be wise to rummage through their own social media closet for any skeletons of insensitivity, regardless of their context or age. And detestable right-wing partisans like Mike Cernovich are no doubt thrilled about the chilling effect this will have on other highly-visible critics of the Trump administration.
But make no mistake: the left, not the right, created the pervasive anxiety felt by those of us who occasionally find catharsis in inappropriate humor. With his utterly shameless behavior, Trump baited liberals to abandon The Kingdom of Free Speech and march on the Conservative Molehill of self-righteous indignation. And because outrage is now the default position for political partisans on both sides of the isle, left-leaning provocateurs like Gunn are sucked out of the airlock to die alone in the cold, dark of space.
Nothing good can come of Gunn’s abrupt termination. Opportunistic pundits will only redouble their efforts to excavate offensive content from the social media tombs of their enemies while disingenuous, feigned indignation becomes an even more powerful cultural battering ram. Once sacred notions of personal redemption are further sullied as we’re increasingly defined by the worst moments of our past, rather than our character at the present.
This is to say nothing of the hundreds if not thousands of Guardians crew members who now have their professional futures cast into doubt, or the excruciating and pointless questions the cast will be forced to answer about Gunn’s tweets on the press junket for the movie.
All of this over old jokes that have been sitting out in the open sun waiting to be discovered for the better part of a decade. As a family-oriented, publicly-traded corporation, Disney had no choice but to fire Gunn. But when the Pied Piper of Outrage is someone intentionally misrepresenting an off-color joke as a criminal admission of guilt, we have only ourselves to blame.