Hollywood director, James Gunn, was fired from Disney last month after a series of disturbing tweets he made, over six years ago, became public. One of the alarming statements tweeted by Gunn referenced NAMBLA, The North American Man-Boy Love Association. This organization advocates for the support of sexual relationships between men and boys who are under the age of consent, claiming that having an “age of consent” is unjust and harmful to the child.
One particular tweet read:
“I remember my first NAMBLA meeting. It was the first time I felt o.k being who I am. Some of those guys are still my BFF’s.” (April 4, 2009)
He later tweeted:
“I like it when little boys touch me in my silly place. Shhh!” (April 5, 2009)
Regardless of whether or not these comments were made in jest, the fact remains that they are not only vulgar and inexcusable, but they also create and promote a platform for child sex abusers and pedophiles to feel empowered and justified to continue in their pursuit of harming innocent children. Any professional, especially one who’s entire career and success is arguably dependent upon children (child actors and child viewers), should aim to be a leader in the protection of the wellbeing of all children, not create a platform for current or potential abusers to feel accepted or empowered.
1.8 million adolescents have been a victim of sexual assault.
The desperate need to protect our children could not be any greater than it is now, especially during a time when 1.8 million adolescents have been a victim of sexual assault, teens 16 to 19 years of age are 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault, and 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18 (NSOPW).
Gunn, who directed Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was fired from directing Guardians of the Galaxy 3. He went on to compose a new thread of tweets explaining that at the beginning of his career he viewed himself as a “provocateur,” making movies and telling jokes that were “outrageous and taboo” and that he has “developed as a person” since then.
However, the themes of rape and pedophilia expressed within the tweets reveal a deep disturbance within the character and mind of James Gunn. No matter how much time has passed since he wrote the tweets, the gravity of what he said begs for deeper discussion. His history of working with children and creating children’s films for one of the largest media companies in the world gives ample cause for alarm and investigation. Yet, as I skimmed through articles covering the issue, it became evident that there are many arguing in Gunn’s defense.
Reports by popular news outlets in favor of Gunn claim that his “outing” is the result of a Far-Right witch hunt. But, this is not about politics. This is about protecting children. This is about condemning any attempts at normalizing the harm of and/or abuse of children.
It is a disheartening reality check when the mainstream media and Hollywood insiders are more motivated to shelter a man who uses the topic of child rape and pedophilia as a way to further his career, rather than protecting children from harm. And all of this in the name of maintaining a political narrative.
Additional tweets posted by Gunn read more like an abuser’s remarks instead of lighthearted or provocative jokes. Take for example:
“I’m doing a big Hollywood film adaptation of The Giving Tree with a happy ending – the tree grows back and gives the kid a bl*wjob.” (September 19, 2011)
“‘Eagle Snatches Kid’’ is what I call it when I get lucky.” (December 22, 2012)
“The Expendables was so manly I f***** the s*** out of the little p*ssy boy next to me! The boys ARE back in town!” (August 15, 2010)
“This may be the plant version of adopting a damaged 12-year-old girl who steals your money and accuses you of molesting her.” (February 4, 2009)
“My new film: Jerkloose-A small town where beating off is illegal, & 1 high school kid jerks off in front of the others to show how fun it is.” (September 1, 2010)
In the age of the #MeToo movement, many would expect that comments such as these would be taken more seriously and more would be required of Gunn than a simple apology letter explaining how he has changed his provocative ways. Is this where we are as a society? Are we really at the point where we excuse a man, who in search of fame, uses the promotion of child rape and pedophilia as fodder for his pursuit?
Is the devastating and ongoing harm of so many children meant to be used as a punch-line for some fame-seeking, vulgar, and broken human being?
If so, what does that loud and clear message say to the 1.8 million (and counting) adolescents who are victims of child sexual assault? What does that say to me, as one of the boys counted as the 1 in 6 who were sexually abused before the age of 18? Were those tweets meant to be funny to us? Is the devastating and ongoing harm of so many children meant to be used as a punch-line for some fame-seeking, vulgar, and broken human being? I doubt any of them find it laughable. I certainly don’t.
What I see being done here is pedophilia being normalized and the harm done to innocent children who cannot consent being mitigated. And it has to stop. It must stop.
Join Gene McConnell in Union, Kentucky, September 13-16, at Pursuing the Hidden Heart. This experiential workshop, set in the context of an adventure retreat, will be an intimate gathering designed to help you find healing from shame and learn to live from your authentic self. Learn more here.
Gene McConnell founded Authentic Relationships International in 1999, and has served as a relational health coach and consultant. Throughout the past three decades he has developed programs such as Pursuing the Hidden Heart, which addresses the issue of shame and seeks to reverse the devastating trends of our sexualized culture. His work has been recognized and awarded for its outstanding leadership by the the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Vice Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. He is also recognized as a subject matter expert on pornography and addiction.
Christina Napoleon was born and raised in Anchorage Alaska and became involved with Authentic Relationships International at age sixteen when she participated in the Pursuing the Hidden Heart program for the first time. She now attends the University of Alaska Anchorage and is excited to be working for an organization whose vision she so strongly believes in.
- Photo taken by Gage Skidmore (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/28047395753) License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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