- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2018

Hollywood director James Gunn’s relationship is over with Disney after a sordid history of pedophilia and rape comments were spotlighted on social media.

The man behind Marvel’s blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies was unceremoniously fired on Friday after years of lewd “jokes” and strange sexual comments sparked YouTube videos and trending Twitter hashtags.

Disney announced the decision before he was scheduled to appear at San Diego Comic Con.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement.

Mr. Gunn claimed early Friday that he was merely trying to be a “provocateur” over the years as he made “jokes” about pedophiles, masturbation and child pornography.

“It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger,” he wrote in a series of tweets. “My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over. In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.”

The director’s comments were highlighted in recent days in response to an increasingly political social media presence. Conservative commentators juxtaposed his judgments of the Trump administration with his sexual remarks about children.

Other critics questioned how a 2010 post (now deleted) titled “Video: 100 Pubescent Girls Touch Themselves” could be perceived as a “joke.”

“I used to make a lot of offensive jokes,” Mr. Gunn concluded his plea to fans. “I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you [sic] to you all.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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