On Wednesday, the fantastic ladies at The Mary Sue ran a story about a blog post written a while back by James Gunn, the director of Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Gunn’s post was called “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want To Have Sex With”, and Gunn mentioned various lewd acts he’d like to do with certain heroines, discussed underage activities with X-23, suggested that a teenage heroine was easy because she’d had a baby, and expressed a desire for Iron Man to visit the DC universe to “turn” Batwoman, a lesbian.
The Mary Sue described the post as “slut-shaming” and “homophobic” and many agreed, including several LGBT groups (“turning” is a particularly offensive concept to LGBT groups and their supporters). Gunn’s comments are the kind of crass, moronic nonsense we’re all far too used to hearing from ignorant and sexist elements of the comic fan community, and to hear that from the director of one of Marvel’s new franchises was disheartening to say the least. A lot of people were upset, myself included, and with good reason.
Twitter discussions have roared since, with some people defending the post as humour and satire while others replied that the defenders had their heads up their asses (which they did). There were some sporadic calls for a head on a pike, but the main response I saw was disgust and a desire to hear from Gunn himself. The fact that the post was taken down without comment earlier this week after the internet noticed its existence didn’t help matters at all. People wanted a response from Disney or, preferably, Gunn.
The response came last night, in the form of an apology Gunn issued directly to GLAAD. Gunn wrote:
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog that was meant to be satirical and funny. In rereading it over the past day I don’t think it’s funny. The attempted humor in the blog does not represent my actual feelings. However, I can see where statements were poorly worded and offensive to many. I’m sorry and regret making them at all. People who are familiar with me as evidenced by my Facebook page and other mediums know that I’m an outspoken proponent for the rights of the gay and lesbian community, women and anyone who feels disenfranchised, and it kills me that some other outsider like myself, despite his or her gender or sexuality, might feel hurt or attacked by something I said. We’re all in the same camp, and I want to do my best to make this world a better place for all of us. I’m learning all the time. I promise to be more careful with my words in the future. And I will do my best to be funnier as well. Much love to all.
Apart from his not using an Oxford comma in the fifth sentence, I think this is a really good apology. It’s not a weak “sorry you were offended” sort of thing that we see so often these days. He expressed his regret, apologized without any sort of caveat, and promised to learn from his mistake. As far as apologies go, you can’t ask for much more.
I’m just one guy in a sea of offended people, but I certainly accept his apology. Here’s why: I took his initial post seriously, so I think I should take his apology seriously as well. I don’t know James Gunn at all, but based on his post alone I was offended and not pleased that he was going to direct a big Marvel movie. I feel completely justified in that response, because the post was disgusting and problematic in so many ways. I made a judgment based solely on something he wrote. Now with this apology, I have a new thing that he wrote and I think I should take it just as seriously. He was regretful, said he was sorry, and promised to be better, and I think I should respect that as much as I disdained his original comments. All I know about James Gunn are these two things, so the second evens out the first and I feel neutral about him again. Apology accepted, and we can carry on.
However, forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. Those who forgive and forget are just setting themselves up to get duped. I’m as confident as I can be in a man I don’t know that Gunn has smartened up, and I accept his apology completely. But if he says something sexist or homophobic again, it’s all off. The slate isn’t wiped clean so much as the scales are balanced now, and I hope they stay that way or continue to tilt towards the good.
So yeah, I’m carrying on now. I appreciate Gunn’s apology, and can continue to be excited for Guardians of the Galaxy to come out in Summer 2014, even though my mind is still completely boggled that Rocket Raccoon is going to make it to the big screen before Wonder Woman!!