Marvel director James Gunn is speaking out about what it was like to be temporarily canceled for old tweets.
In 2018, Disney fired the writer/director, best known for his work on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films and DC’s upcoming “Suicide Squad,” after Twitter users unearthed past remarks where he made jokes about pedophilia and rape.
Among the posts between 2008 and 2011 that landed Gunn in hot water: “I like when little boys touch me in my silly place” and “The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!’”
After the Guardians cast protested Gunn’s firing, however, Disney rehired him less than a year later.
In a wide-ranging July 14 interview with The New York Times, Gunn called that period “unbelievable.”
“For a day, it seemed like everything was gone. Everything was gone,” Gunn said. “I was going to have to sell my house. I was never going to be able to work again. That’s what it felt like.”
Gunn described receiving the news from Marvel head Kevin Feige at the time, saying, “I called Kevin the morning it was going on, and I said, ‘Is this a big deal?’” He went on to share details of their conversation: “And he goes, ‘I don’t know.’ That was a moment. I was like, ‘You don’t know?’ I was surprised. Later he called me — he himself was in shock — and told me what the powers that be had decided.”
Despite the devastation Gunn says he experienced at the time, the director still defended cancel culture, likening it to accountability. He brought up serial predator, Harvey Weinstein, though the studio head faced far more than social media censure or career loss for his illegal behavior. Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape, taking his conduct well beyond the bounds of speech or cancel culture.
“Cancel culture also is people like Harvey Weinstein, who should be canceled,” Gunn said. “People who have gotten canceled and then remain canceled – most of those people deserved that. The paparazzi are not just the people on the streets – they’re the people combing Twitter for any past sins. All of that sucks. It’s painful. But some of it is accountability. And that part of it is good. It’s just about finding that balance.”
Gunn has defended cancel culture before. As The Daily Wire reported, in March, Gunn called it “free speech.”
“Stop calling everything ‘cancel culture’ because you’re too dim to have a nuanced opinion,” he said. “People can be offended by something, or think something sucks, and that’s not ‘cancel culture’ — it’s free speech. To all of those writing me about the times people get unfairly attacked — yes, that sucks! But that doesn’t mean every time someone is offended by something it’s ‘cancel culture.’ Calling EVERYTHING that is a knee-jerk response that destroys your point.”
Gunn previously liked tweets bashing former Mandalorian star Gina Carano and celebrating her firing for political speech.
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