In the months following Harvey Weinstein's downfall, many prominent men in the entertainment industry have lost their jobs for their sexual misconduct, but whatever you may say about Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Tambor, and Chris Hardwick, all were fired due for what they did. This weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was fired by Disney not because of any violations he committed, but for tweeting inappropriate jokes about LGBTQs, pedophilia, and other topics. However awful these jokes may have been, their resurfacing stems from a right-wing deception campaign to avenge one of their own, not because of any #MeToo or #TimesUp effort.
It began on Wednesday when filmmaker Mark Duplass wrote a well-intentioned tweet about conservative pundit Ben Shapiro:
“Fellow liberal: If you are interested at all in ‘crossing the aisle’ you should consider following @BenShapiro. I don’t agree with him on much but he’s a genuine person who once helped me for no other reason than to be nice. He doesn’t bend the truth. His intentions are good.”
After taking this in, Duplass issued a heartfelt apology:
"My goal has always been to spread unity, understanding and kindness. But I am going to make mistakes along the way...I do believe deeply in bi-partisan understanding and I will continue to do my best to promote peace and decency in the world right now. That said, I hear you. And I want to say thank you to those who reached out with constructive criticism. I have genuinely learned so much and wish everyone all the best.”
Although conservatives used this as evidence Duplass had fallen victim to the PC liberal mob, the matter was quickly resolved and forgiven on the left. Duplass, who has stood for diversity and inclusivity in Hollywood, asked his fanbase to support someone who, from their perspective, was hostile to their rights as human beings. Once he took in their concerns, he changed his mind. That's not giving in to angry villagers, it's evolving your position, and it's something both liberals and conservatives should be capable of.
One person who expressed his opinion on the matter was Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who frequently tweets against Donald Trump and the Republicans. "Maybe you disagree with Mark Duplass," he wrote, "but that doesn't make his [point-of-view] evil":
“Not everyone can be right all the time about everything, and, if you think that’s possible, then eventually you’re going to be standing by yourself, ‘right,’ but alone. We have a President who’s an operative for a foreign nation at our helm. We have immigrant children still held w/out parents. Our election was attacked by Russia and the corrupt GOP is doing everything to make sure we don’t put protections in place against it happening again. Mark Duplass tweeting how you should follow an asshole because he thinks it’s the kind thing to do simply can’t be the bar for moral outrage. Have a good day.”
Despite Gunn's good intentions, he unintentionally roiled right-wing Mike Cernovich. One of the most notorious members of the alt-right (or "alt-lite" as he prefers to call it), Cernovich is responsible for Pizzagate, the conspiracy that alleged John Podesta and Hillary Clinton ran a child sex dungeon out of a Washington D.C. pizzeria called Comet Pizza. He frequently mobilizes his Twitter base to publicly shame and fire journalists and entertainment figures by digging up and misinterpreting old tweets as evidence of their pedophilia. He had his work cut out for him with Gunn, who had left behind a digital trail in the form of several offensive jokes he tweeted throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s, a few of which are pictured below:
Gunn had deleted and disavowed the tweets as early as early as 2012, after Disney hired him for the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. He apologized for them again this week, but it was no matter. On Friday afternoon, Disney fired him, giving Cernovich a victory.
This creates a disturbing precedent. While Gunn's tweets are horrible, they do not equate to actually committing pedophilia, and there is no evidence whatsoever suggesting Gunn is involved with pedophilia. But to Cernovich, tweets count as actions, and he used this to his advantage. This also makes him a hypocrite, since he's tweeted several rape jokes without having to answer for his own rape allegations.
It also reflects poorly on Disney who, last May, fired Roseanne Barr from her titular sitcom after she tweeted that Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was an "ape." Barr, whose Twitter has been a cesspool of conspiracy theories and racism for years now, never apologized for her tweets when Disney employed her, and only did so after the firing. The difference between the two is stark: tweeting about pedophilia is not actually pedophilia. Tweeting racist remarks is racism, as Roseanne has proven. What could have motivated Disney to dump Gunn despite his apologies, but stand by Roseanne for months without ever receiving an apology from her? We may never receive a satisfactory answer.
Since that incident, conservatives have been out for blood in the entertainment industry, launching campaigns to fire Bill Maher and Samantha Bee. Currently, Cernovich has his sights set on comedian (and Gunn defender) Patton Oswalt. The only person breathing a sigh of relief is Roseanne Barr herself, who, in a self-destructive move which got swallowed up by Gunn's firing, uploaded a video of herself on YouTube defending her Valerie Jarrett tweet, screaming, "I thought the b*tch was white!"
James Gunn can change. Mark Duplass can change. Roseanne Barr will never change, and it is this stasis of thought which right-wingers like Cernovich argue for in an attempt to drag the rest of us down with them.