Rightwing 'activists' destroying Hollywood careers sets a dangerous precedent

From left: James Gunn, Roseanne Barr, and Dan Harmon. (Getty)
From left: James Gunn, Roseanne Barr, and Dan Harmon. (Getty)

This week, Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon deactivated his Twitter account after a satirical video emerged of him portraying a child molester and interfering with a baby doll.

The news comes just days after Marvel director James Gunn was publicly made an example of by his now former employer Disney, after they decided to fire him from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 due to a series of decade-old tweets circulated whereby he made obscene jokes about rape and child molestation.

And while there’s a running content theme in relation to each’s ‘outing’, the concept of these so-called ‘activists’ (aka politically-motivated trolls) effectively ending – or at the very least massively damaging – careers of prominent anti-Donald Trump lefties (the other binding theme) sets an extremely worrying and dangerous precedent.

Read more: Do fans deserve a fourth season of Rick and Morty?

Not only is this hypocritical from the perspective of said trolls – in the case of Gunn it was rightwing vlogger Mike Cernovich, who has made a career out of being controversial – it establishes a bizarre and new benchmark morality whereby Disney play directly into their hands.

And even though Harmon hasn’t been removed from his job, his social media deletion has fuelled speculation that the upcoming bulk of Rick and Morty episodes may be cancelled as a result. The fear is that bosses will cave (despite Adult Swim saying otherwise), just as Disney did. Consider that neither example is a dark, hidden secret unearthed by ethically-driven investigative journalism, it’s unclear where sudden outrage should legitimately come from. Gunn’s tweets, which were originally shared circa 2009, were publicly acknowledged and dealt with back in 2012 after he apologised for his actions.

Rick and Morty are due another 70 episodes in the future. (Adult Swim)
Rick and Morty are due another 70 episodes in the future. (Adult Swim)

As a result, and whether Disney bothered to background check him or not, it was no secret that the future Marvel director had a twisted sense of humour which must’ve been a driving factor in the Mouse House hiring him in the first place. Yet they’ve allowed a troll with a motive to dictate their future output ad a person’s livelihood. It doesn’t bode well and sends a worrying message over how culpable a person is based on past indiscretions.

Disney can be viewed as hypocrites too, considering they hired convicted child molester Victor Salva (having actually served jail time for his crime) to direct 1997 movie Powder. The question is this: Why did they employ him and what is their defence in 2018? Bearing in mind the claim that Gunn’s tweets didn’t fit in with the company’s image, how does hiring a paedophile fit into it? The thinking is that Disney have long since overhauled their brand and are now a multi-billion dollar global organisation with a responsibility to millions.

So why can’t Disney offer that same benefit of the doubt and allowance for Gunn to now know better?

But back to Harmon who created a video was a satirical swipe at the absurdity of Dexter. It was in plain sight on YouTube until he removed it — no seedy secrets and cover-ups necessary but someone specifically went digging for it regardless.

And context is everything – or absolutely nothing if you exist to discredit someone because, as we’ve seen over the past 18 months in the White House, context and facts don’t appear to matter. Nor is this a case of ‘one rule for the left and another for the right — it’s simply based on common sense and not politics.

Politically-motivated critics amount Gunn and Harmon to paedophilic levels of depravity, despite Gunn’s action culminating in a series of admittedly distasteful and shocking comments with the intention to raise eyebrows as a form of poor taste comedy. Harmon went a step further by producing a short skit in direct response to the hit TV show Dexter. With that in mind, and from what we know about his alternative sense of humour, the Community creator went all-out with a satirically-laced commentary on how people embraced and sympathised with the ‘perfect serial killer’ and romanticised it in the process. Harmon took paedophilia as an example to illustrate a point.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 director was fired by Disney. (PA)
The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 director was fired by Disney. (PA)

Yet in both instances the controversial materials have been used to ‘own the liberals’ that are perceived to dictate Hollywood and outcast anyone with rightwing tendencies. It’s revenge, pure and simple.

Some have even thrown in Roseanne Barr’s firing in an attempt to illustrate a false equivalency, after she recently shared tweets deemed racist and highly offensive. However, there is no moral parallel with her scenario in relation to the former two.

This still didn’t prevent the Trump-supporting ex-TV star from sharing her thoughts on the matter.

It can be argued that Barr has been a long-time outspoken and offensive Republican that has previously shared wild (and false) conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate, Antisemitism, and bigoted comments before being dismissed by ABC for a very recent racist ‘joke’. This wasn’t something a person tweeted a decade ago before they became a film director or an uncovered 2009 comedy sketch pointing out how people consume television. Barr’s controversies are in 2018, which is prevalent.

The other huge contrast is that while the liberals of Hollywood released apologies, Barr (who eventually issues a half-baked sorry) blamed medication she was taking, the mainstream media, and political bias, and only last week did she still insist she was fired for being a Trump supporter, swiftly moving away from the racist tweet she was in fact held accountable for.

This sadly feels like the tip of the iceberg, with Donald Trump Jr. also tweeting about the other creator of Rick and Morty, Justin Roiland, in an attempt to silence him, too.

So where do we draw the line?

Would Disney have been so quick to fire Gunn had those tweets been sent when he was a teenager? What if Harmon’s pop at Dexter had been a college project? How far back in time do we go to kill a career if said individuals have changed their world views and attitudes on life?

The truth of the matter is that it’s now become a trend to discredit and ruin mainstream stars for past indiscretions, especially after Harvey Weinstein was exposed last year, despite said under fire names seen to have visibly changed their views and continually making efforts to be better people.

The glaring difference here is the likes of Barr and Trump are still saying abhorrent things today, in the present, as well as having had many questionable moments uncovered from their pasts that form a consistent narratrive. In the cases of Gunn and Harmon, we’ve seen modern Hollywood advocates for inclusiveness attacked for what they were or things they did, rather than based on who they’ve become and what they’re doing right now.

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