Guardians of Galaxy director James Gunn needs to be called out for his astonishing level of chutzpah. A man who has dedicated his life to make believe — the man who has spent countless days and weeks and months of his life focused on comic book characters — decided it would be a good idea to belittle fans who dared to disagree with him on Spider-Man: Homecoming casting.
“If you’re complaining about the ethnicity of Mary Jane your life is too good,” wrote Mr. Gunn on Thursday, shortly after reports that Zendaya landed the role.
Translation: Just shut up and accept what we do or you will be mocked, ridiculed, and labeled a racist.
Mr. Gunn could not just be content to have 2,100 share his smug tweet (with another 3,500 “liking” it). No, instead he had to climb atop a giant moral pedestal and lecture the world via Facebook on a controversy he helped create by stirring the pot.
His fans, of course, took the red herrings he dished out and lavished him with praise. Since they are so blinded by partisan politics or celebrity worship to identify a logical fallacy when it slaps them in the face(book), yours truly will dissect elements of his self-righteous rant.
“I do not believe a character is the color of his or her skin. When Michael B Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm I didn’t understand the uproar. The primary characteristic of Johnny was not, to me, that he was white, or that he had blonde hair, but that he was a fiery, funny, big-mouthed braggart of a hero. I was happy that he was going to be played by one of the finest and most charming young actors out there.”
Here we have Mr. Gunn, just like Marvel writer Dan Slott, responding to an argument that does not exist. Who is arguing that a character “is” the color of his or her skin? No one.
People who loves Peanuts went to the movie theater recently to see Charlie Brown and his beagle — not Charlie Brown and his miniature dachshund.
Moviegoers who love James Rhodes went to see Captain America: Civil War, and rightfully expected to see a black man — in this case, Don Cheadle — on the big screen as War Machine.
No one is arguing that race is the primary element that defines a person, but it is not wrong for comic book fans to expect a faithful transition of their favorite characters from platform to platform.
To lavish Mr. Gunn for addressing an argument that no one is making is absurd.
“Yesterday, a rumor broke out that the character of Mary Jane was being played by a young black woman, Zendaya, and all hell broke out on the Internet (again).”
That is because guys like you and Dan Slott look at what the dregs of the internet are saying and then insinuate that anyone who disagrees with you a.) has “too good of a life,” or b.) is a racist moron.
James Gunn kicks a hornet’s nest and then wonders why he gets stung.
For the thoughtful majority of you out there:
For me, if a character’s primary attribute – the thing that makes them iconic – is the color of their skin, or their hair color, frankly, that character is shallow and sucks. For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she’ll work. And, for the record, I think Zendaya even matches what I think of as MJ’s primary physical characteristics – she’s a tall, thin model – much more so than actresses have in the past.
Again, note what Mr. Gunn does here: He responds to an absurd idea that no one is making, as if that’s what the real debate boils down to, and then says you are “thoughtful” if you agree with his rant. Ironically, fans who are not very thoughtful fail to see what he is doing while still getting excited that they agree with him.
Yes, James, it is correct that a character who is solely defined by skin color is lame. That would be a stellar point to make if the issue at hand centered around that claim. But hey, at least you get to relax in the verbal sponge baths that your Facebook and Twitter fans give you. I guess that counts for something…
“Whatever the case, if we’re going to continue to make movies based on the almost all white heroes and supporting characters from the comics of the last century, we’re going to have to get used to them being more reflective of our diverse present world. Perhaps we can be open to the idea that, although someone may not initially match how we personally conceive a character, we can be – and often are – happily surprised.”
Bravo, James! Well said. Do you know what would also make guys like me “happily surprised”?
Answer: If you and your friends did not say that fans’ “lives are too good” or that they are racist when they disagree with you.