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Weighing in on years-old social media posts

Matt Withers, Arts Editor

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Imagine you got the job of your dreams, something that you have always wanted to do. Once you get that job, it turns out that you happen to be one of the top employees and your workplace. More than that you get to create and design your own section of the companies’ future. Now imagine getting fired for a terrible off-color joke you made 8 to 10 years ago on Twitter. A joke that you had since apologized for, that your boss knew about, but one you left up anyways.

This is what happened to James Gunn as he was recently fired from his position as director and writer of Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Now before I dive into this, I want it to be known that I am in no way saying that the jokes that Gunn made where in anyway acceptable. The posts in question are floating on the internet so look them up if you wish, but the comments he made could be deeply upsetting to some so proceed with caution.

There was a lot of fallout from Gunn being fired as both the writer and director of the Guardians, since he is the guy that created almost everything we think about when we think about the Guardians of the Galaxy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What could prompt Disney to fire him out of nowhere? Well it actually has ties to the outlandish conspiracy called “Pizzagate” (that mess is a bag of worms for another day.) A well-known conspiracy theorist started to resurface old tweets of Gunn’s where he jokes about topics such as pedophilia. This caused a quick and swift outrage as the internet tends to do. Disney saw this outrage and responded within a week cutting all ties with James Gunn.

While Disney probably thought they were putting out a fire, this act ended up sparking an eruption of online talk both defending and attacking the decision.  One side agreed with Disney saying that what James Gunn said is grounds to be fired, while the other side rejected the decision saying that these were poor attempts at humor.

Here’s where I fall on the subject, I do not think James Gunn should have been fired. For me this is a question of “Can someone change?”  Gunn made these jokes nearly 10 years ago, and at the time he was trying to put up a front of a hardcore, edgy indie director. He was playing to the audience he already had and trying to get them as dedicated to him as possible. Does that make what he said acceptable? No, of course not, but it does add a context I feel is needed in this situation.

Think of the person you were 10 years ago, or even just a year ago, I doubt any of us would stand by some of the stuff we said when were around friends and trying to be cool and funny. We all say stupid, awful things because we’re human and we make mistakes, but it’s our ability to grow and change that makes us interesting. You can even see the progress in James Gunn evolution just by looking at his early films compared to Guardians.

The other aspect of this situation that needs to be addressed in the idea of the internet mob mentality. Because it’s so easy to express our opinions behind anonymity and by hitting a share button, it can be super easy to get caught up in the rush of jumping on an internet hate train, I’ve been caught up in it as well.

I think this situation proves that we should take a second before just attacking people left or right.

Most of the time social media tends to feel like a waiting game of seeing who people are mad at this week. Some of these attacks have been totally justified, used to expose awful people for who they really are, and other times it feels like a weapon used by a couple people to get rid of everything they don’t like.

It’s a tricky situation to navigate, even Disney had to split the difference, putting out a statement saying that they would use Gunn’s script but with a different director. Next time before we all sharpen our pitchforks, we should take a second to make sure that the person truly deserves it.

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Weighing in on years-old social media posts