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Opinion: Always Evolving, the Firing of James Gunn

Kevin M. Gallagher, Jr Articles, Cup O' Kev Leave a Comment

james gunnI’ve been quiet about the whole James Gunn incident. When news broke about Chris Hardwick, I was quick to jump at my thoughts and opinions on Twitter. While these are two different scenarios and I have personal experience to come to quick conclusions with Hardwick, it’s been hard to put into words my feelings towards Gunn. Since I first saw that Disney fired Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, I’ve been thinking about it. I have been reading what my peers think; what Gunn’s peers have come out and said. For me, it all came together when Marc Bernardin published his piece on The Hollywood Reporter today.

Was/Is Disney wrong for firing James Gunn? I certainly see both sides of the story; both as someone who has done “shock jock” radio in the past and someone who is very protective of his entertainment company. I’ve talked to a few friends and we all agree, the person we were a decade ago no longer exists—I can’t believe I was that person. I was, and many may argue I still am, an asshole. Was “shocking” humor more acceptable 10+ years ago? I think so, but it doesn’t make it right. I think, as a society, we’ve all grown—things that were acceptable a decade ago aren’t necessarily acceptable today.

Am I the same person I was a decade ago? No. Ten years ago, I was going through a personal and mental crisis, thought they only way to do a podcast was to be as shocking as Howard Stern, and had never changed a dirty diaper. Today—I’ve never been happier, like to think that I’m doing my part to ensure the podcasting community is an INCLUSIVE place, and have two children who have peed on me.

WE ARE CONSISTENTLY CHANGING

I was having some drinks with Jeff Stormer, host of Party of One and All My Fantasy Children, a few days ago and this topic briefly came up. While I don’t have the source, Jeff mentioned reading somewhere that the cells in our body are replaced about every 11 years; thus making us a different person. That fascinated me and I’ve done some BASIC research. Over on the 3HO Foundation website, they claim the following:

  • Every 18 years, the physical body goes through a process of maturity and change. (Cycle of Life Energy)
  • Every 11 years, the way you apply what you know to solving problems changes. The horizon of the intelligence expands. (Cycle of Intelligence)
  • Every 7 years, the fundamental sense of your identity evolves. It deepens, building on the wisdom of past experiences. (Cycle of Consciousness)

Think about it… can any of us say we are exactly the same as we were 7-18 years ago? I don’t think so. Did James Gunn make “jokes” that are appalling? 100%. While I can use the “excuse” of being in my ’20s when I modeled my radio (podcast) career (hobby) after the likes of Stern and Kidd Chris; Gunn was 41. I can see why people argue that Disney was right for firing him.

Prior to his official firing, Gunn himself tweet, “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.”

FINAL VERDICT

Obviously, there are situations where who a person was is the same as who a person is. There are examples of this in Bernardin’s article. As someone who was a podcaster that used “shock jock” methods to convey humor, I firmly believe people can change. I am someone who tries to use “smarter” humor and not tear someone down to engage with my audience. Collaborators and peers of James Gunn have commented on the type of person he was and now is. Was he an asshole? Yes. Is he committed to equality and representation? Is he fair and respectful? Based on what his peers have said, yes.

Part of life is messing up. It’s what we do after we mess up that matters. We learn from our mistakes and become better. Do I think James Gunn was wrong for what he said a decade ago? Absolutely. Do I think he should have been fired? No. It’s bad precedent and equates tasteless jokes (from years ago) with the actually dangerous comments made by others (that lead to racism and hatred). I stand with Selma Blair, Dave Bautista, Sean Gunn, and all the others who have spoken up for James Gunn.

We are Groot.

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Kevin M. Gallagher, Jr

Kev is the co-founder of Crude Humor Studios and That's Entertainment. He also writes, produces, and directs their skits, shorts, and web series, while sharing managing editor duties for That's Entertainment.

Kev is the host of the podcast, Everything is Awesome and is the co-host of The Zombcast. He is the former host of the podcasts Happy Hour with Steel Tip, Creepcast, Happy Hour, 30 Minute Outsider, The Muff Squad, That's Entertainment, 215th Entertainment Presents: Sounds of Philly, Academic Nerds, and OuaT: The Unofficial Once Upon a Time Podcast.

Kev also writes for Dark Knight News and is working on a science fiction series.

Most of all, Kev is a dad to two wonderful children.
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