Disney has cut ties with James Gunn, the director of its enormously successful “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, over old shock-humor tweets resurfaced by a pair of far-right media figures on Thursday.
The now-deleted tweets, sent by Gunn between 2008 and 2011, first began trending after Pizzagate conspiracy theorists Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec drew attention to them, likely in retribution for Gunn’s outspoken criticism of President Donald Trump.
The tweets made frequent mention of topics like pedophilia and rape. Numerous other highly sensitive subjects, including the Sept. 11 terror attacks, AIDS and the holocaust were also mentioned.
“I remember my first NAMBLA meeting,” reads one tweet, referring to the “North American Man/Boy Love Association,” a pedophile advocacy group. “It was the first time I felt ok being who I am.”
Another, sent in February 2009, reads, “The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!’”
Disney fired Gunn soon after the resurfaced tweets went viral Friday.
“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values,” Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement announcing the decision, “and we have severed our business relationship with him.”
In a series of tweets sent late Thursday, Gunn apologized for what he described as “offensive jokes,” characterizing his early attempts at humor as “outrageous and taboo”:
Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.
It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.
In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies.
For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.
Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.