A few days ago a story broke about director James Gunn (Super) and his not so tasteful comments on one of his blog entries entitled “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With: 2nd Annual Poll Results!” You can read the cached version of the article here. Now first off the title of the blog post tells you one very important fact...this isn’t real! I know what you’re thinking, its not a matter of whether the people are real but rather the sentiment. Well I think in this case the fact that we are talking about fictional superheroes makes this all rather silly, but I digress. Gunn gathers the names for the list from his fans who are polled. Men and women, gay and straight are ranked according to how many votes they get. No harm no foul...yet. However, Gunn puts himself in the driver's seat of possible blame or ridicule because he makes small comments under each character. Most comments are snide or crass and have the maturity of about a 13 year old. From a comedic point of view I don’t think he is going to be opening for Louie C.K. anytime soon, but comedy is completely subjective.
Some of the comments range from the juvenile to simply rude. For instance his comment under Wonder Woman, “For the second year in a row, Princess Diana is the big winner. It seems like many guys out there are hoping she’ll lasso their penises and make them tell the truth – which is that they want to be inside of Princess Diana!” HEHE lasso their penises. Well maybe my little nephew would think that’s hilarious, but who cares really. If you are reading a list of 50 fictional superheroes you want to bed simple dick jokes aren’t going to get your angry. So that one wasn’t so bad, OK lets get to the more rude ones. When talking about Gambit, a straight male Cajun member of the X-Men, “My girlfriend voted for this Cajun fruit. I think she’s looking to have a devil’s three way with the two of us. The idea of my balls slapping against Gambit’s makes me sick to my stomach, but I can’t deny the fellow’s pure HEAT, as he yet again placed so high on this list, despite being male and in the presence of so many A-listers. Wolverine and Superman may beat him in sales, but it’s who the ladies love that really matters, and Gambit is the Galactus of Cock!” I guess this would roll right into the category of homophobia for some. Well it would if Gunn was anti-gay and really hated gay men. Once again Gambit isn’t real, and the entire list is a goddamn joke. So you can run further down the list and see comment after comment with varying degrees of inappropriateness. From joking about “corrective rape” to “rude bitches” James Gunn hits them all. I really don’t believe Gunn believes these things about regular people but frankly I don’t know the guy. However, I think its a much smarter approach to assume the guy isn’t a hateful person because he made some bad jokes than to assume that he is a misogynist prick. My issue with the controversy has less to do with James Gunn and more to do with how others reacted to it.
I am a very politically motivated person with strong opinions. Anyone who listens to our weekly podcast can attest to this. I never really hold back. I try to keep my politics out of nerd culture as much as humanly possible. However, this is one moment where I think breaking that rule is warranted, so here goes. Today I read about this controversy again on the progressive website ThinkProgress.org, a site I read often for political news. I am a liberal/progressive person when it comes to my politics so this site affirms many of my beliefs. I think the site is run well with some pretty good journalist doing good journalism. All that being said, when I saw the article entitled “Guardians Of The Galaxy Director’ James Gunn Likes Being Gross About Superheroines On The Internet” by Alyssa Rosenberg I wasn’t too pleased. I found the article to be full of misinformation and grasping for straws on some points. First off, Rosenberg makes the fatal mistake of taking Marvel and by proxy Disney to task for allowing someone like Gunn to handle the first female superheroine in Guardians of the Galaxy. Well first off in case you missed it, Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen) is the first Marvel superheroine. Johanssen has played the role twice. Secondly, the rumor of Ms. Marvel being in Guardians of the Galaxy is not a fact but rather nothing more than a rumor. If you are going to write about this stuff take the time to get it correct.
Now more to the major points of Rosenberg’s failed argument. A number of times in the article she purposefully pretends to not understand what Gunn means. For example when talking about Emma Frost, Rosenberg quotes Gunn with “What I love about Emma is the practical attire she wears while adventuring. Certainly, if I were a woman fighting giant monsters I’d want to wear some awesome breast-mushing halter top, a pair of panties, and thigh highs.” Clearly Gunn is referring to how ridiculous Emma Frost is normal portrayed. Its a commentary on the comic industry. The tone is clearly of sarcasm. Remember that Gambit quote from earlier, here is Mrs. Rosenberg’s version ““My girlfriend voted for this Cajun fruit. I think she’s looking to have a devil’s three way with the two of us. The idea of my balls slapping against Gambit’s makes me sick to my stomach.” No mention of how he ranks so high or that “but I can’t deny the fellow’s pure HEAT.” Once again he is clearly using a joking tone, but to pretend otherwise will get you hits from angry readers.
So at the end of the day I think the whole controversy is plain silly. James Gunn is an oddball and frankly perfect for a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy. Alyssa Rosenberg was looking to jump on the slam bandwagon because he said some stupid things. She is an excellent writer and could have certainly spent her time working on a worthwhile story instead of this one. It just comes across as petty and small. Newsflash! People make crass and stupid jokes all the time. However, we need to be careful to not label people as hateful bigots just because they don’t do something we like. Crying wolf constantly about sexism, racism, homophobia, or the like only does damage to those movements. When you call everything racist than when a real racist moment occurs no one will believe you. I don’t think Gunn was being a bad guy, just telling some bad jokes. He wasn’t being a sexist or a homophobe, what he was being is an asshole and frankly the internet is full of them. Let it go.
Lastly, you can read Gunn's apology here. What did you think of the controversy? Let us know in the comments.