As if Paddy’s Day wasn’t enough excitement for one week, the news that James Gunn has been rehired by Walt Disney Studios to write and direct ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’ has given many of us another reason to celebrate. Regardless of whether you are a Marvel super-fan (or just obsessed with Chris Pratt) or not, there are many important reasons we should be glad for Gunn’s return. The decision to fire Gunn after decade-old tweets resurfaced and went viral, consisting of misguided and disgusting jokes about topics including rape and paedophilia, was met with great controversy. Opinions were split as to whether the director should be penalised so many years later and following public apology, with Gunn receiving support from many of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast.
The decision to rehire Gunn is important as it is a story of forgiveness, redemption and progression in a society which has become resistant to apology. While I do not condone his actions, it would be wildly hypocritical for any of us to sit behind a keyboard and act as though we have never made any mistakes, whether on the same scale or not. We should be focussed more on creating a community in which we embrace other’s mistakes as long as they are willing to learn from them and adapt to more acceptable behaviour. Gunn has admitted to his mistakes and taken responsibility for them. Importantly, in the wake of his dismissal he accepted the decision with dignity and grace, even though he disagreed with it. I, similarly, did not agree with the decision to fire him in light is his willingness to condemn his previous decisions. Gunn’s tweets were immature and reckless, particularly considering his publicity, but this narrative provides us all with an important lesson. We should not foster a society in which our mistakes result in social exile, villainization and hatred.
The ubiquity and anonymity of social media has created a society of heartless keyboard warriors. The camouflage of our screens has instilled in our community an unfounded superiority, giving us the ability to judge others without realising the consequences. While I embrace the expression of opinions, I fear that many people who speak out so strongly on social platforms would be less willing to speak so strongly in real life or to a friend. A person’s celebrity does not rob them of their humanity, withdraw their right to respect and compassion or subject them to a higher level of moral standards. James Gunn, just like the rest of us, is just a person and by virtue of human nature cannot be expected to be without flaw. How many of us could take a good look at ourselves and not regret a single thing? Similarly, how many of us could genuinely say that if their entire lives had been publicised, society would not be able to find a fault to criticise? We do not want to create a social structure which forbids people to make mistakes because without examples of poor behaviour we cannot learn. Gunn should be welcomed back and his talent should not be undermined by his past mistakes. While this does not apply to all situations, I think we can agree that in light of his subsequent behaviour and the nature of his errors, Gunn deserves our forgiveness and a second chance.