It’s been more than a week since news broke that Disney had fired James Gunn over a series of inappropriate tweets he wrote in 2008/2009. Since the news first circulated there has been a lot of talk about whether or not Disney was right to fire him.
I’ve published a few posts about this story, including yesterday’s news that the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy had issues a lengthy statement regarding the situation. In short, while the cast don’t agree with Gunn’s comments, they appreciate that those comments do not reflect who he is today, noting “we believe the theme of redemption (in James’ movies) has never been more relevant than now”.
Since the initial firing, Disney has not put out any new statements, so for all intents and purposes the decision to fire Gunn is a done deal. However, with the cast of the Guardians movies showing support and increasing comments from fans (arguing both sides of the situation) this story is not going away anytime soon.
Initially when I reported this story on It’s A Stampede! I was unsure of how I felt about the situation and didn’t want to add even more fuel to the fire by commenting. As time has gone on, I’ve felt differently about what has happened and am now at the point where I feel we should be talking about this – a lot.
I’ve previously talked about why I think the firing of James Gunn poses a bigger problem for Disney, but I feel like it also poses a bigger problem in general. The problem being that this situation sets a precedent that no one can make amends for previous mistakes – and that worries me.
Let me make it clear what I mean here.
If someone has a history of doing wrong, they continue to do wrong and they demonstrate time and time again that they have no intention of changing, then they should be held accountable. However, if someone has done something wrong in the past, has held their hands up, apologised and has demonstrated they have changed, then I feel they should not be held entirely accountable for their past.
I also think that it is worth taking into account the testimonies of people who stand up for them and support them. A sort of measuring a person by the company they keep sort of thing.
As mentioned previously on the blog, I don’t know Gunn, I don’t know the type of person he is, but what I am now witnessing is a bunch of people who do know him, banding together to say, ‘hey, we get that he messed up, but that’s not who he is now.’
Now I realise there’s an argument that the cast released a statement because they had to say something – it would have looked odd if they didn’t – and the statement could be taken as a general acknowledgement of the situation, but even so, Dave Bautista, Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana didn’t have to ask for his reinstatement on their Twitter accounts. The fact that they did suggests they think the situation needs readdressing.
I appreciate Disney is in a bit of a tricky position right now and whatever happens, the studio will be seen as doing the wrong thing. Hey, you can’t please everyone, but maybe you can reconsider your position.
Here’s the bottom line for me: Gunn did wrong. He apologised. Disney knew this. Disney worked with him knowing what he had once said. Gunn demonstrated his views have changed. Disney then fired him based on old views. The message that Disney is promoting is that you can never make up for your past indiscretions even when you’ve demonstrated that you’ve changed.
So when the studio asks me to buy into the idea that a playboy weapons dealer like Tony Stark can become a superhero, I have to question if they really believe that? I also have to ask, can a thief like Aladdin really become a prince? What if he’s just faking his relationship with Jasmine in order to keep a roof over his head.
For me, if Disney were to put out a statement now saying that they are re-evaluating their decision, I’d respect that. It would send a message that you can make amends for your past and as a studio they can be big enough to say, maybe we jumped the gun (no pun intended).
But what do you think?
Should Disney reinstate James Gunn?