Disney has severed ties with “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn after a series of old tweets referencing pedophilia and rape resurfaced online this week.
“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,” Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said in a statement to The Times on Friday.
The provocative director behind Disney and Marvel’s successful “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise reportedly wrote the tweets before signing on with the studio. He had previously been announced as the director of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3." One tweet read, “I like when little boys touch me in my silly place.” Another said, “The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!’” Others tweets, which have since been deleted, included satire about 9/11, AIDS and the Holocaust, Deadline reported.
On Thursday, Gunn took to Twitter to provide context for the missives.
“Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor,” he wrote. “It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.” Gunn also said, “I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore.”
According to Fox News, the tweets were unearthed by conservatives after Gunn, an outspoken critic of the right and President Trump, came to the defense of filmmaker Mark Duplass, who has been embroiled in his own Twitter battle for suggesting liberals might consider following conservative pundit Ben Shapiro.
After Gunn was fired, Shapiro both insulted and defended the director. “I think @JamesGunn is an ..., as my exchange with him earlier this week made clear,” Shapiro tweeted. “I also think that firing him for vile old joke tweets is bad precedent and a mistake. There is no limiting principle to the outrage mob.”
James Gunn responds to Disney firing:
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” Gunn said in an official statement. “I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”
“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today,” Gunn said. “Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then.”
He concluded by looking to the future: “All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”