He Knew Better: Director James Gunn’s Explicit Past Only Compounds His Dirty Child Molestation Comments
Oftentimes, it is said that great creativity is born in the furnace of sorrow. James Gunn, touched by that sorrow as a child, would go on to glowingly be dubbed “the maniac who conquered Marvel” by Buzzfeed, living up to the reputation in more ways than one.
His fans have come to know what Gunn’s friends enjoyed about him, his unreserved, expressive commentary. None of it seems too funny or witty, but in videos and blog posts, it’s always over the top. We’ve all come to know one or two guys looking to make their name at a house party.
In success, Gunn toned down his raunchy comments, at least in public, but used his social media accounts to speak directly with fans of his work.
Maybe success had cured sorrow. Well, that’s what his advocates would have the public and concerned parents believe, pointing to his so-called apologies made in 2012, amid great recognition, repenting for his homophobic and misogynistic commentary.
Curious still, Hollywood never demanded Gunn pay penance for his commentary about molesting children and normalizing pedophila.
America is onto Hollywood.
Director Joss Whedon reviewed Gunn’s work saying it has “a punk element to [it]” and that it “is very spiky and edgy and different.” “He’s really funny, his work has a ton of heart, but there’s a darkness,” Whedon told Buzzfeed in a 2017 interview. The writer, Buzzfeed observed, “[t]hat darkness has lingered through just about every facet of Gunn’s life, sometimes to his great distress, often at his open invitation.”
Gunn’s childhood, by his own admission, influences his work — enjoyed by families and millions of children alike — still, today.
But what traces of that sorrow are left? In which ways do their manifest in his work?
More Than Jokes
In the two weeks after James Gunn’s child molestation commentary and pedophilia jokes were found on his Twitter account and now-deleted salacious personal blog, dueling rumors allege Disney is taking a meeting with him after previously terminating him or they’re not.
Longtime Hollywood observers note that there isn’t any chatter of a new director as of yet, rare in controversies like this. Defenders of the writer-director contend Gunn’s commentary was “just a joke” and that critics are “freaking out over decade old tweets.”
Regardless of where one falls on the debate, the American public has been deprived of a conversation of what is a joke and what is not a joke? Or, what is funny and what is not? And, when might commentary be disguised as a joke?
Social conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro scurried to Gunn’s defense, earning dismay and disappointment from his loyal readers. He not only bought Gunn’s PR-crafted excuse, that these were simply ‘jokes’ in poor taste, but helped sell his flimsy defense
It was decades old comments, they were only jokes, and in not allowing Gunn to create content for children, we risk something awful — err — whatever.
It didn’t matter to Shapiro that Gunn’s apology didn’t address the issue. It didn’t even matter to Shapiro that Gunn’s jokes had no punchline.
But it did matter to Shapiro fan, Owen Benjamin, who is a famous comedian.
Benjamin, who has largely been ‘no-platformed’ because of his mainstream, right-wing political conversion, was dismayed by far-right social conservative commentator Shapiro would be so cavalier about legitimate concerns about predatory networks rife throughout Hollywood. The comedian points outs that the bulk of Gunn’s comments had “no punchline and no satire and no irony and nothing else.” With astute intellectually clarity, the comedian correctly points out that these comments weren’t pedophilistic jokes, but child molestation commentary that, at best, were attempts to normalize and trivialize the act or, at worst, entertainment for Gunn and his friends.
More on Gunn’s friends later.
Benjamin and his speech have been permanently banned from Twitter. Gunn remains.
We are seeing the endorsement or censorship of speech. It is said that the control of speech is really the control of thought, depriving an individual of the space to entertain ideas. And ultimately the ability to manifest their reality.
Childhood Trauma and Adulthood Network
Gunn appears to have been exposed to sexual abuse as a child at his Catholic grade school. Sometimes, especially when untreated or in sexually ambiguous environments, victims themselves become perpetrators.
Of his alleged perpetrating predator, Gunn wrote on his now deleted blog:
10) Monsignor Russell J. Obmann, the pastor at my grade school, St. Joseph’s in Manchester, Missouri, who gave the young boys in my class alcohol and showed them porn, and probably other stuff as well. He was later caught having sex with a male student, but was only reprimanded by the Catholic Church. Now he’s dead.
11) The fact that we all told our parents that Russell J. Obmann was doing this shit, but they thought we were being silly and making up stories because he was a dick even outside of being a child molester
Worse, Gunn was bullied. In fifth grade, his classmates “were fucking and doing drugs and drinking.” He confessed, “I guess I thought that’s what kids did.” Buzzfeed’s profile piece is very jarring here.
The catalyst for that behavior, according to Gunn, was his school’s monsignor, Russell J. Obmann. At the time, Gunn said he knew Obmann was giving young boys in his class alcohol and pornography — it was only much later that he understood the full magnitude of Obmann’s behavior. “I didn’t realize that the priest was molesting these kids, and that created this incredible society of fucked-up-ed-ness in my class,” Gunn said as he began restlessly swiveling in his chair with discomfort. “It even became a thing where, like, these notes were found by the teachers in my school of people passing notes, talking about drugs and sex. This was in fifth grade.”
Gunn said Obmann never targeted him, and eventually the priest relocated to a different parish. (Obmann died of cancer in 2000; his St. Louis Post-Dispatch obituary notes he retired in 1993 after serving in multiple parishes, but does not mention any abuse. A representative for the St. Louis Archdioceses did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News to comment.) Still, the experience was scarring for Gunn, in part because he said no adults in his life seemed to take it seriously.
Gunn and Buzzfeed never broached the subject of therapy or healing from this sorrow-filled trauma. It looks like Gunn turned to art to heal as best he could.
This is the concern of tens of thousands of parents across the country, that Gunn has not fully healed from his childhood trauma or worse, he could’ve normalized it and perpetuated it.
In the past, some Disney writers have hidden what are called “easter eggs” or hidden messages in their films, much to the displeasure of unsuspecting parents.
Further complicating matters, Gunn is well-networked with his good friend Huston Huddleston, who, just last month pled guilty on child pornography charges.
Gunn is also closely connected with Lloyd Kaufman who admitted masturbating with a friend to a 16-year-old Justin Bieber at Gunn’s urging.
Gunn, like all of America, is fully aware that Hollywood not only has a reputation and history of sexually abusing children and women, two vulnerable constituencies, but also has active networks normalizing and participating in pedophilia.
On Sexual Predators in Hollywood (and the World)
Well, yes, that’s true. Sexual predation is ride in Hollywood. But it’s also ride EVERYWHERE. As evinced by the stories I heard Friday night, some men — probably a much larger percentage than any of us want to be true — try to coerce women (or children or other men) sexually, and they will try and do so when they get any small amount of power. They are movie stars and network heads and world famous bloggers — but they are also fast food restaurant managers and used car salesmen and, as I learned as a child (and tried to speak and was shut down), priests.
What should parents have to tolerate?
Maybe the thousands of words Gunn dedicated making light of child molestation were, in fact, jokes. If that’s the argument, the next logical question is, for whom?
Well, Huston Huddleston and Lloyd Kaufman are two patrons and that should tell us quite enough.
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