Last year, when Roseanne Barr was fired from her eponymous ABC sitcom for sending a bad tweet, one of her fellow Disney employees had some strong opinions about it. Here’s what writer/director James Gunn had to say:
Or, as libs like to say: “Free speech has consequences.”
Gunn got an opportunity to put that theory into practice a couple of months later, when somebody dug up a bunch of his bad tweets and Disney fired him from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. He was allowed to say whatever he wanted, and his employer was under no obligation to continue funding his movies if his words were considered abhorrent. And the roaming outrage mob collected another scalp.
Of course, now it turns out that Disney was just waiting for the controversy to die down before rehiring him. He’s now writing and directing Guardians of the Galaxy 3 again. His movies make a lot of money, so Disney stopped pretending to be ethical. They only “fired” him for PR reasons, so now he’s back.
Still, it was a bummer for Gunn. Today he’s speaking up for the first time since his firing, telling Mike Fleming Jr. at Deadline.com:
“I don’t blame anyone. I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humor, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I’m putting out there… I feel bad for that and take full responsibility. Disney totally had the right to fire me. This wasn’t a free speech issue. I said something they didn’t like and they completely had the right to fire me…
“The truth is I had a lot of anger at myself and I really had to try to put that aside. Because in the same way where I know what I’ve done wrong, I know that I’ve done a lot of wrong things in my life, things that led to this moment. I had to realize what I needed to do differently in my life.”
It sounds like Gunn learned the right lessons from the whole thing. He’s not blaming anybody else. He’s not lashing out at anybody for pointing out the gross stuff he said that got him fired. Unlike a lot of people these days, he’s actually taking responsibility, not just saying “I take responsibility” and then immediately shifting the blame.
I’m glad he’s had this learning experience, and maybe he’ll be a bit more humble the next time one of his ideological opponents has a career setback. Maybe I’m just an incurable optimist. Maybe that’s why I like James Gunn’s movies so much.
No spoilers, but I can’t wait to see how Gunn handles the Guardians’ newest member! Maybe [REDACTED] and Star-Lord can have a bet on who loses all that weight the quickest.