Ugh. I really didn’t want to write about this, but I guess I have to. So James Gunn, known to a cult handful as a kitschy-clever Troma-trained director of films like Super and Slither, back in 2011 wrote a kitschy-campy, tongue-in-cheek blog post called “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With.” A post which, for some reason the “guide to geek girl culture” site The Mary Sue only picked up on this week, calling it a “slut-shaming, misogynist, homophobic post” (thanks to the internet, I can now spell “misogynist” without a dictionary!). From which followed the requisite online petition to get James Gunn removed from his job directing the much higher-profile Guardians of the Galaxy, which Marvel hired him to do back in August. The petition garnered a relatively paltry 3,100 signatures.
Naturally, James Gunn had to monkey dance for the self-appointed morality police in an apology posted by GLAAD:
“A couple of years ago I wrote a blog that was meant to be satirical and funny. In rereading it over the past day I don’t think it’s funny. The attempted humor in the blog does not represent my actual feelings. However, I can see where statements were poorly worded and offensive to many. I’m sorry and regret making them at all,” Gunn writes.
“People who are familiar with me as evidenced by my Facebook page and other mediums know that I’m an outspoken proponent for the rights of the gay and lesbian community, women and anyone who feels disenfranchised, and it kills me that some other outsider like myself, despite his or her gender or sexuality, might feel hurt or attacked by something I said. We’re all in the same camp, and I want to do my best to make this world a better place for all of us. I’m learning all the time.” [THR]
If you knew anything about James Gunn or had ever seen a Troma film, you’d know the “offending” post was par for course – kitschy, gleefully vulgar, and written in tongue-in-cheek vernacular. The worst you could say about it was that it was un-PC, and duh, that’s Troma’s entire mission statement. That stuff wouldn’t even exist without humorless, content-deaf outrage merchants to clutch their pearls over it. As far as I can tell, this was the language Susana Polo of the Mary Sue had such a problem with:
[Backstory: Basically, Gunn and Rainn Wilson polled people on Facebook and Twitter about which comic book characters they'd most like to have sex with. Gunn posted the results with a short blurb reviewing each character.]
My girlfriend voted for this Cajun fruit. I think she’s looking to have a devil’s three way with the two of us. The idea of my balls slapping against Gambit’s makes me sick to my stomach, but I can’t deny the fellow’s pure HEAT, as he yet again placed so high on this list, despite being male and in the presence of so many A-listers. Wolverine and Superman may beat him in sales, but it’s who the ladies love that really matters, and Gambit is the Galactus of Cock!
8. The Black Widow
It’s hard to believe the Russian spy who Tony Stark called “sexual napalm” didn’t even rank last year! Natasha Romanova is the highest debut on the list, and, considering she’s f*cked half the men in the Marvel Universe, it’s much deserved.
21. Nightwing (pictured)
Okay, uh, yeah, I can see where you would want some of that sh*t.
This lesbian character was voted for almost exclusively by men. I don’t know exactly what that means. But I’m hoping for a Marvel-DC crossover so that Tony Stark can “turn” her. She could also have sex with Nightwing and probably still be technically considered a lesbian.
34. Batgirl – Stephanie Brown
Being a teen mom and all, you know she’s easy. Go for it.
38. The Flash – Wally West
Many of the people who voted for the Flash were gay men. I have no idea why this is. But I do know if I was going to get f*cked in the butt I too would want it to be by someone who would get it over with quick. [source]
It’s a bit tedious and comic-book-insider for my tastes, but slut-shaming and homophobic? No. And having spent three years in a grad school liberal arts program with an 85% female student body, trust me, I’ve had pleeenty of lessons in slut-shaming and homophobia. At some point you have to be able to distinguish between “gay people shouldn’t have sex” and “I personally don’t want to have gay sex,” which most of the not-great jokes in this were implying (in an obviously silly, tongue-in-cheek way). He was being silly. It’s not some secret code meant to incite the gay krystallnacht.
Now, here‘s how someone who doesn’t get context would read it:
What’s wrong is the sheer amount of slut-shaming (on only the female characters) and anti-gay language that Gunn directs towards the majority of the male characters. These are not opinions befitting somebody who’s been given the task of bringing a major part of the Marvel Universe to the big screen (a set of characters, I might add, that includes a lesbian superhero couple, not that they’ll be appearing in Guardians).
The screenshot at the top of this post is the entirety of what he has to say about Batwoman, which is both a reference to the idea that lesbians just need a good (read: streotypically masculine) man to have sex with them and they’ll be “cured” of their homosexuality, a delusion at the heart of an innumerable number of rapes;
He made a tongue-in-cheek comment about the kinds of things a comic book writer would write (or the plot of an entire Kevin Smith movie). Or, in internet-outrage parlance: BURN HIM! HE’S PROMOTING RAPE CULTURE!
and a dig at Nightwing, one of the few male characters in comics who has actually gotten away with being drawn for the female gaze. Apparently, having been depicted as a female sex fantasy occasionally (and still with nowhere near the frequency that any given female character is drawn for the male gaze) instead of a male power fantasy literally makes him a woman.
But let’s not end with the anti-gay sentiment! Sometimes, women are qualitatively less attractive because they have sex with people! “I sometimes think that the Black Canary is the hottest chick in the DC Universe until I remember that she, uh, fucks Green Arrow.” On Stephanie Brown, a teen mother who made the painful decision to give her baby up for adoption, “Being a teen mom and all, you know she’s easy. Go for it.” [MarySue]
Oh God, I’m so bored already. I guess this sh*t is new for people who’ve never sat through a freshman gender studies seminar, but for the rest of us it’s soooooo booooooring. Let’s not forget, he’s talking about cartoon characters. Comic books are sexist? Wow, no sh*t. I’d never expect that from something designed for horny 12-year-old boys. Next you’ll tell me “Barely Legal Semen Dumpsters” objectifies women. Look, and I say this as a liberal, this PC no-fun police crap does us all a disservice. Maybe try to focus on actual discrimination and substantive disenfranchisement rather than harmless words and jokes made by PEOPLE WHO ARE ON YOUR SIDE. Just a thought.
And suddenly, I’m reminded of that Mark Twain quote about arguing with idiots. So, if you saw this post and said “tl;dr,” congratulations, you were right.