Overheard debates: James Gunn's rehiring

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 at 6:57 PM

There are many overheard debates in the Spectator office. This week, our writers take on Disney’s firing and eventual rehiring of “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn. Gunn had been fired for some controversial tweets, with two of the main subjects being rape and pedophilia. The tweets were published over a decade ago. While fired, Gunn took over as director of the upcoming “Suicide Squad” sequel. Reports state he’ll do both “Suicide Squad” and the third “Guardians of the Galaxy” film.

What did you think about James Gunn being fired?

Nathan Brennan: I thought it was an appropriate enough response. He was the center of a controversy, so it made sense that they would fire him at that time.

That controversy resulted from tweets approximately 10 years ago, in which he made crude jokes that made light of subjects such as pedophilia. Being that the tweets were so offensive to many, including myself, Disney found it prudent to take action and remove him from his position. This brought up an interesting debate: at what point do we forgive? Yes, the tweets were 10 years ago, but their nature was graphic and quite uncomfortable to read, so much so that I don’t wish to repeat them. However, if one believes that others can change over time, and he has atoned for his mistakes, do we let bygones be bygones?

Jason Hurst: It was completely ridiculous. Over tweets said a decade ago? If they were a lot more recent, it would’ve made sense. It appeared to be more of a move by Disney and Marvel to distance themselves from the controversy.

Does the timing of his tweets affect anything?

NB: I don’t really think it should. Yes, it was perhaps a different culture back then, but comments about pedophilia shouldn’t have ever been acceptable.

JH: They should. It was a different time, yes, but to bring up something that was said previously with no consequence years ago and suddenly get upset over it? Makes no sense to me.

What do you think of outrage/cancel culture? Is it justified? If so, when?

NB: It’s a movement that makes sense in this time period. Celebrities who have been in the spotlight for a while, being exposed as someone perhaps different than perceived is often a jarring, unnerving experience for their fans and those close to them. So a common reaction tends to be outrage or overall “canceling” someone. This is likely what happened here with Gunn.

JH: It certainly can be justified. For example, a person has a history of accusations against them and they come to light, public pressure can do wonders. But it’s dangerous, people jump at the opportunity too fast. The moment an accusation or rumor appears, evidence or no, the immediate thought is to “cancel” them. In the end, the fans of their work suffer the most.     

What do you think about him being rehired eight months later?

NB: It didn’t really make much sense to me. If they were going to fire him, why backtrack and rehire him?

JH: It’s about time.

Why do you think he was rehired?

NB: I think Disney and Marvel just wanted the controversy to pass and then eventually hire him back. Like I said, Disney must have believed that he truly did change, so they rehired him.

JH: I don’t think anyone could have done the job better than he could of. He wrote the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy and directed the first two. He would’ve been impossible to replace.

How does this play into outrage/cancel culture?

NB: I feel like, despite the outrage and apparent canceling of Gunn, Disney found his direction to be profitable for both the characters and the “Guardians” franchise. They perhaps have circumvented this trend, seemingly un-canceling him.

JH: I feel it was more of a way of appeasing the outraged public. Give them what they want in the moment, then give them what they want again with the movies they love.

Did the cast supporting Gunn help him get rehired?

NB: It might have helped, but I think Disney always planned to bring him back.

JH: Possibly. They spoke out against his firing at the very least. I’d like to think that they helped get him back.

What do you think about the fact that, according to Deadline, Disney didn’t look for another director during the time where the movie had no director?

NB: It makes sense, based on what I believed their reasoning to be. I didn’t think they would look for anyone else.

JH: Understandable. They may have been waiting to see what happened, or they hoped someone else would step up.

Did his firing affect the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise and would it have been worth it?

NB: I feel like it ultimately would of. They were planning to use his script for the film, with or without him at the helm as director, so I honestly don’t think it would’ve been too different from what we were used to. A lot of the Marvel fanbase was upset about the decision, so it would’ve indeed suffered.

JH: It definitely would have. The new film would feel different to watch. The setups and foreshadowing for the larger narrative would’ve been there, but the presentation of the singular story could have been drastically altered.

Does his rehiring affect the franchise? And will it affect how we deal with similar issues in the future?

NB: Like I mentioned, the fanbase loved Gunn, so this decision is generally supported by people I’ve talked to, at least. However, many are still upset that he made those remarks in the first place. When the movie eventually does come out, there very well may be protesters there to dispute his rehiring.

JH: We’re back to square one. Everything is basically the same as before the controversy. I think this was just a stunt to appease the angry crowds and draw more attention to the upcoming film. I think more thought will be put into decisions like these, especially if the person in question is vitally important.

Nathan Brennan | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com
Jason Hurst | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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