James Gunn torpedoed his Disney career: A lesson for social-media busybodies

James Gunn THR

Hollywood director James Gunn was fired last week after conservative activists consolidated and posted his long history of rape and pedophile “jokes,” in addition to tweets that were shocking for the sake of being shocking.

James Gunn tweet

The interesting thing about Mr. Gunn’s “jokes” is that guys like me would not have been aware of them had he not been the kind of person who climbs upon a moral pedestal to lecture President Trump and Roseanne Bar about “abhorrent” rhetoric.

James Gunn Rosanne

The rise of internet busybodies who destroy careers by spotlighting a single tweet can be traced to left-wing ideologues — often times guys like Patton Oswalt — who are furious that their Frankenstein monster has turned on them.

Patton Oswalt tweet

The commander in chief must be intellectually flogged for lewd comments he made about women many years ago, but Mr. Oswalt is now upset that a sustained flow of pedo and rape “jokes” by Mr. Gunn resulted in his termination from Disney.

Strange.

James Gunn tweet 2

What makes the situation more pathetic is that a large population on social media see nothing wrong with his “jokes.” Mr. Gunn deleted at least 10,000 tweets in a very short amount of time to cover up his disturbing behavior (as a 40-year-old man, mind you), yet many observers think Disney should have yawned and said, “Move along. Move along. Nothing to see here.”

DTE on Gunn

The lesson of the day: Don’t go finger-wagging at politicians and fellow entertainers about “abhorrent” rhetoric if your past includes many years worth of sexual jokes about minors. That seems like it would be common sense, but then again common sense is in short supply as of 2018.

If you’d like to hear my full thoughts on Mr. Gunn’s firing, then feel free to check out my recent live-stream with the multi-talented Brett R. Smith. We wrap up the discussion with commentary on his latest project with artist Timothy Lim and writer Chuck Dixon: Trump’s Space Force.

You can check out the Indiegogo campaign here.

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James Gunn stands on moral pedestal, lectures world on Zendaya-MJ story; fans praise giant red herrings

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. 

James Gunn MJ tweet

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.

Related:

Zendaya as Mary Jane? Ask about red hair for the next year and you’ll be called a ‘racist’

Dan Slott plays ‘Captain White Privilege’ after Zendaya-MJ casting reported

Even Ellen Page’s Creepiest Fans Can’t Save Gunn’s Super.

Ellen Page has an inordinate amount of creepy fans, who will applaud anything she does because, apparently, she's Ellen Page. And even they didn't go see Super.

Hop in a time machine, get to 88 mph, and read my post on October 24th, 2010—yours truly predicts that “Super” would be a “Sad Liberal Dud.”  Stick around through Oct 25th and you’ll get an extended look at the thought processes behind the prediction. Or you can just use Google. That works too.

With a budget of 2.5 million, one would think that Super would pull more than that just from the sad, drunken college kids with nothing to do on a Friday night. Twas not to be. As I mentioned:

James Gunn crafts a movie where the tool who cuts in line at a movie theater gets a bottle broken over his face, and then he thinks he’s created “a mix of cinema verité and pop art.” Not really. It appears you convinced a lot of people to put up a lot of money for a very expensive piece of crap. Oddly enough, there is some sort of bragging rights to be had in accomplishing such a feat, but from a cinematic point of view I think Gunn is deluding himself.

Liberals are like really bad chefs who try deconstructions of your favorite comfort food and end up serving you a tasteless, sordid concoction that turns your stomach—only they also try their experiments on the culture at large. The Wachmen (the comic) is a case study in how to successfully deconstruct the superhero, and that was written by a raging liberal. The funny thing is, his writing was so good that the conservative character who was supposed to be nuts was the one guy who knew what was really going on! The movie, directed by Zach Synder, was also fairly impressive.

How much did Super rake in? $233,000. Notice that’s not in millions. That’s in thousands. Granted, that’s from a widest release of 39 screens, but even the per screen average wasn’t that great considering it played in safe liberal enclaves (again, where campus kiddies should have flocked to see it). Perhaps they didn’t because reviews like this came flowing in:

“Chock full of insanely graphic violence, awash in thoroughly un-PC perspectives, and more than willing to keep on punching long after the audience is virtually incredulous, “Super” is fun and funny, dark and twisted, semi-schizophrenic and certifiably insane. What I liked most was its simple audacity. And Ellen Page.”

Insanity isn’t audacity. Graphic violence for the sake of graphic violence isn’t special. It’s lazy. And even though there’s a segment of the population that will love anything Ellen Page does simply because she’s Ellen Page (or because she oddly promotes movies by making Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin jokes)…the only thing they’re good for is breaking VOD for Independent Film Channel records—which Super has apparently done. Congratulations, Super. You’re the middle school kid that got held back three years and takes everyone else out in dodge ball. You think you’re something special, but you’re really just a big dunce throwing weight around where you’re not welcome.

Oddly enough, Super got two thumbs up from Ebert Presents: At The Movies. While Ebert wasn’t actually one of the reviewers for the film on that venue, you might remember that he couldn’t stand Kick Ass because Hit Girl was “disturbing.” Wondering if the actual Ebert was at least consistent? If so, there’s an easy answer: No.

In this instance, Ebert wasn’t particularly concerned with the “disturbing” aspects of the film (apparently they’re much more gruesome than Kick Ass), but with the pointlessness I’ve already mentioned. Kick Ass received a single star, while Super earned two. Why not more for James Gunns’ latest outing?

“Super” plunges into nihilistic despair in its third act. This isn’t a black comedy because it isn’t a comedy. It’s a trick played on our expectations, I concede, but to what end? Is there any requirement that a film develop organically from beginning to end? No. There’s no rule book. But audiences feel uneasy when they feel toyed with.

I’m all for movies that create unease, but I prefer them to appear to know why they’re doing that. “Super” is a film ending in narrative anarchy, exercising a destructive impulse to no greater purpose than to mess with us.

One can almost feel the pangs in Ebert’s (admittedly) socialist heart as a cast and crew of hard-core liberals let him down. He wanted so badly to give them a pass…but opted instead to hold on to what little credibility he has left.

Next up: Kick Ass 2. I’m looking forward to your review, Roger.

Screw it. I’m popping some Huey Lewis into my DeLorean and finding out now.

James Gunn’s Super: Liberal Aioli Will Leave Bad Aftertaste

Only a liberal like James Gunn could think God would conceivably send people with a "vague sense of right and wrong" on "missions" that involve smashing a piddling tool's face in with a glass bottle.

If only I had taken a little time to do more research on James Gunn’s Super, I would have been able to ruminate on the moral relativistic bomb a month ago! (note that a “bomb” and a “cult” film are not mutually exclusive). In September the director all but guarantees his audience will see what happens when the superhero genre gets drenched with an overpowering liberal aioli:

James Gunn: “I think that one of the things with “Super,” one of the questions is, is Frank D’Arbo doing something that’s completely f**ked up, or is he really on a mission from God? That’s sorta the central question of the movie. So, I wanted to show the violence. I didn’t want to like, pretend that it didn’t exist. I mean, this is a guy hitting people with —you see people in a movie hitting people with lead pipes and pipe wrenches and knocking people unconscious all the time and it doesn’t make you go, “Ugh.” I wanted this to make people go, “Oh, wow, that’s f**ked up.” It’s like, you think it’s gonna be great and then he hits the guy and then I wanted people–when he’s hitting the guy in line–I wanted people to be, on the one hand, you really want him to do it. Then you see him doing it and you’re like, “I think I still kinda like it, but I’m not sure,”…

Interviewer: Ellen Page is just amazing in this, she’s totally psychotic. You mentioned before that Frank is kind of like a counterpart of yourself, but I think in some ways both of them are. They’re both the parts of people who read comics and want to be superheroes. There’s the practical part and then there’s Ellen Page who is just out of it and doesn’t have any control over what she does.

James Gunn: Yeah, well I think you’re questioning Frank’s motives and exactly what’s going on, but he obviously has some vague sense of right and wrong.

Interviewer: He actually has a motive though.

James Gunn: I don’t think he’s beating up people for the sake of violence. Ellen Page, however, it gets to the fact where she’s in it for one thing and that’s for beating people up and putting on a costume somehow instantly makes that right.

So let me get this straight.  According to the director:

  • Frank may be on a “mission from God.”
  • Frank only has a “vague sense of right and wrong.”
  • Frank teams up with a woman who is “only in it for one thing and that’s for beating people up…”
  • Audiences are supposed to say, “That’s f**ked up.”

Only a liberal like James Gunn could come up with a story where God would team up a guy with a thinly tethered understanding of right and wrong with a psychotic woman, have them mutilate and kill people for reasons normal citizens can’t decipher —in ways we’re uncomfortable with—and think he accomplished something:

James Gunn: There’s a moment where it clicks and that was a moment where it clicked. It was like, “Yeah, Rainn is the guy. He’s the person.” Rainn and I are very similar in our personalities. I think we have a strange mix of both extremely liberal, and not in the political sense conservative, but conservative in terms of believing in the goodness of humanity and love and that sort of thing.

I can write a dozen blog posts from that bit alone, so I better stick to the topic at hand…  The reason why people often don’t flinch at violence is because seeing pure evil blown to smithereens is cathartic. Just as we must sometimes bring out the rhetorical big guns on opponents, there are times in life where it is morally right for nations or individuals to resort to violence (i.e., God-given rights are threatened).  Killing someone because they keyed your new Jetta doesn’t fall under that category. Hence, the cringe.

James Gunn crafts a movie where the tool who cuts in line at a movie theater gets a bottle broken over his face, and then he thinks he’s created “a mix of cinema verité and pop art.”  Not really.  It appears you convinced a lot of people to put up a  lot of money for a very expensive piece of crap.  Oddly enough, there is some sort of bragging rights to be had in accomplishing such a feat, but from a cinematic point of view I think Gunn is deluding himself.

Liberals are like really bad chefs who try deconstructions of your favorite comfort food and end up serving you a tasteless, sordid concoction that turns your stomach—only they also try their experiments on the culture at large.  The Wachmen (the comic) is a case study in how to successfully deconstruct the superhero, and that was written by a raging liberal.  The funny thing is, his writing was so good that the conservative character who was supposed to be nuts was the one guy who knew what was really going on!  The movie, directed by Zach Synder, was also fairly impressive.

My personal opinion is that Zach Synder has some libertarianism or conservatism in his blood, which is probably one of the reasons why his flicks tend to go over well with so many people.  I’m happy that he’s teamed up with Christopher Nolan (another one with tinctures of conservatism in his veins?) to direct the new Superman.  If my gut is correct on both of them, the Man of Steel will return to form. Good luck, Zach.  And remember: “Never compromise.  Even in the face of Armageddon.”

James Gunn?  You might want to return to the drawing board.  You have a long way to go before you reach the upper echelons of smug, successful, hypocritical liberal directors.

James Gunn thinks he created "a mix of cinema verité and pop art." Based on his interviews, I'm betting he created a very expensive, very forgettable film.

Prediction: Ellen Page and Rainn Wilson’s “Super” Sad Liberal Dud.

These days, if you had to bet whether Ellen Page would take a super hero script with moral clarity or one with relativist fog, which would it be? That’s what I thought. “Super” will be drenched in cynicism, and the laughs will collapse under the weight.

If you’ve read my blog you know how I feel about the movie Kick Ass. It generally did just that. And whether it was intentional or not, the movie came with clear doses of moral clarity. Evil was called evil, and the good guys were able to recognize and confront it. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite moments was when Dave Lizweski puts his life on the line for a complete stranger and a gang of thugs ask him if he’s crazy. He responds:

“Three a**holes laying into one guy while everybody else watches? And you wanna know what’s wrong with me? Yeah, I’d rather die.”

It was refreshing to see young characters on film who would lay down their life for the idea that there are universal truths that should guide us. The credo that all evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing was addressed in Kick Ass, and I can’t help but think that part of the reason why the finished product ended up so satisfying was because it was made without the standard Hollywood gatekeepers’ approval and financial resources.

With that said, I’d like to address another movie that will be heading to theaters sometime soon. Liberals Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, and Liv Tyler have teamed up with writer and director James Gunn (brother of Matt Gunn, who writes for Bill Maher), and the result is the movie Super.

Why do I get the feeling that the insipid rantings of Ellen Page will return for promotion of the movie Super, as they did with Inception? And why do I get the feeling that this “dark comedy” will really just be a bad deconstruction of the super hero genre that will leave the audience in a pool of moral relativist pap?  Answer:  because the odds of a gaggle of cynical liberals coming together and crafting something as uplifting as Iron Man aren’t very good.

Let’s look at the clips of Super that have already come out.

Boltie: We did it! We did it! We totally f**king beat evil!

Frank: You’re not supposed to kill him!

Boltie: And then he’d never key a car again, would he? A brand new f**king Jetta, Frank! Melissa loved that car!

Frank: Don’t say that.

Boltie: What?

Frank: Don’t…stop saying “f**k”.

*Man groans and writhes in pain as blood gushes from his head*

Frank: He really keyed your friend’s car?

Boltie: Yeah. I’m pretty sure it was him.

Besides the exchange above, another clip exists where Frank bludgeons a man for cutting in line at a movie theater, which is supposed to be hilarious.  Correction: the hand held camera used in the scene, which obviously makes it feel more realistic, elevates the comedy to “darkly hilarious.” Bravo!

Perhaps I’m just cocky in the wake of the Seth MacFarlane prediction that went even better than expected.  Or, perhaps I’ll be wrong and pleasantly surprised. However, something inside tells me that if I go to see Super I’ll witness a bunch of bitter characters using capes and masks as a vehicle with which to channel misplaced emotions. They’ll have a moral compass with zero magnetic north.  I’ll be cued to laugh at the “unexpected” times it spins and some mildly annoying character is punished disproportionately to the actual crime (as defined by the film’s mercurial “heroes”).  Along the way some really bad people will die unceremoniously and the obedient audience will wonder, “What’s it all mean? Is good and evil just an artificial construct? Is it all relative?” And then they’re supposed to slough it off because Ellen Page is “cute” and Rainn Wilson is “OMG, so funny!”

I’m hoping Kick Ass 2 doesn’t follow suit. It looks like the comic might veer off in that direction, but I have my fingers crossed it won’t (I stopped reading the first one when it became an exercise in getting as much violence into the panel as possible).  Regardless, keep this post in mind since Super will be heading to theaters soon.  If I’m wrong, I will own up and apologize. If I’m right…it’s going to be a fun weekend.

Somewhere, a producer thought, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the dude from The Office graphically lacerated someone on film? And wouldn’t it be cool if we could make it so weirdly disturbing that it was funny?  Dwight. Blood. Violence for violence’s sake.  Let’s go for it!”