On Monday, Chris Pratt and the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy issued a statement in support of fired director James Gunn. Gunn was fired by Disney after right-wingers on Twitter surfaced some of his old tweets joking about pedophilia; he then apologized for his old tweets again (he’d done so in 2012).
The full statement from the cast is more fulsome:
The statement is quite good. The real point of the statement is the second-to-last paragraph. Social media mobbing has become a sport for many – and taking scalps is the object of the sport. I think Gunn’s old tweets are egregiously awful – unfunny, stupid, offensive, and all the rest. But they are old tweets Disney knew about when they hired him. They are jokes. As of yet nobody has surfaced any serious allegations that Gunn is actually a pedophile, despite the online community’s eagerness to label him one.
But it’s also true that Hollywood has created and exacerbated the sport of social media mobbing. Every Hollywood cause is generally complete with calls for boycotts and career-targeting for those who are politically disapproved. Hollywood is rife with discrimination against conservatives (I wrote a whole book about it, and producers and directors admitted to me that they discriminated against those with whom they disagreed politically). And members of the Hollywood community haven’t been shy about excising those who don’t agree with them on cultural grounds. When Mark Duplass wrote a mildly kind note about me on Twitter two weeks ago – the inciting incident for the Gunn mess – he was mobbed so badly he immediately deleted the Tweet and then apologized for ever having tweeted it. Hollywood created this culture. They bought this ticket; Gunn, unfortunately, took the ride.
But we should all hope that this incident actually triggers some self-reflection from everyone. Both political sides should understand that we’ve created mutually assured destruction here – that anyone can be destroyed at any time. That’s dangerous, and it’s nasty.
So, Hollywood, I’m happy to endorse a program of live and let live when it comes to political rhetoric and comedy. But you’re going to have to do the same if you don’t want this boomerang to come back home to you.