James Gunn was fired from as director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 a while back. Disney fired him because of some offensive Tweets he posted years ago.
Around the same time, Dan Harmon deleted his Twitter account after alt right trolls found an old sketch he’d done that featured offensive content.
Then there’s Josh Hader, the closer for the Milwaukee Brewers, who Tweeted racist, sexist, and homophobic things when he was younger. Or Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb who did the same, albeit limited to homophobic posts.
These men all have something in common: they’re white dudes. They’re white dudes who fell into the very white dude trend of trying to say really shitty things for attention.
While such behavior has been around for centuries, my generation grabbed hold of it and held it up as something to aspire to. My generation thought Bill Hicks, Denis Leary, and Colin Quinn were comedic geniuses. A large percentage of us even thought Andrew Dice Clay was great.
For Generation X, being an asshole was cool.
There are a lot of problems with that, not the least of which is the fact that only straight white guys could get away with being assholes without repurcussions.
And the more prominent this white guy behavior became, the more extreme it got as each white guy tried to out do the other.
It got worse with each iteration of this white guy. The comedians I mentioned above managed to more or less balance being assholes with making good, often thought provoking jokes. Periodically there would be some substance behind the asshole bravado, a poignant comment simply wrapped in bitterness. But as the trend grew, it became lesser, a photo copy of a photo copy of a photo copy until the only image you could still make out was that of a giant asshole.
The internet made this trend spread like wildfire. Humor sites that found a way to monetize this flavor of attitude popped up all over. Men who couldn’t get jobs writing for those sites started blogs. Eventually we all moved to social networks, bringing the shitty things with us.
James Gunn is nine years older than me. Dan Harmon is two years older than me. I get it. I understand why they acted the way that they did, said the things that they said. It was, to be honest, an awful trend and, really, and it falls squarely on the feet of one demographic.
And, as usual, it’s mostly borne from privilege. Women could certainly never get away with such behavior. Men of color could try it, but very few would get the pass that white men do.
I’m torn on the subject, but I don’t think James Gunn should have been fired. I think he made some mistakes. I think he truly regrets them. I think that’s what matters.
I also think that you’d be hard pressed to find a white dude of my generation who hasn’t said horrible things. I also think that most of them don’t regret it.
I guess all the Nazis coming out of the woodwork in America these days are right about there being a singular, white culture, and here’s our defining contribution to society: we perfected being horrible people…and getting away with it.
Which is probably how we ended up with so many Nazis.