Criticising Trevor Noah and James Gunn for comments that were made years ago presents a problem. We need to focus on who they are now.
As a famous person once opined, I don’t give a damn about my reputation. While that might have held true for Joan Jett in 1981, she wasn’t subject to the realities of 2018. This week, we’ve had the long-antiquated missives of James Gunn and Trevor Noah resurface, proving that social media is the trumpeting elephant that doesn’t forget.
For those of you who missed it, the Guardians of the Galaxy director was let go after a string of grim tweets was rehashed, by all things, a member of the alt-right Twitter community. The response for the public has oscillated between he got dragged, and apologised six years ago and six years ago, he was in his forties – that’s not an excuse.
TW// James Gunn’s tweets — A Thread
This is what people are supporting, including the cast of GOTG. pic.twitter.com/KinPgkrT0P
— alex (@barnesartboy) 23 July 2018
To that end, there’s a petition to have him reinstated, which currently sits at 260,000 signatories, abetted by a series of verified accounts on Twitter.
Petition to rehire ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn nets over 230,000 signatureshttps://t.co/RM3cU5DGeh
— Mashable (@mashable) 24 July 2018
We’re currently seemingly stuck between it being a stupid thing to say/it’s a stupid thing to be angry about. A further point of conversation is why Disney fired Gunn and kept John Lasseter (sexual allegations), Johnny Depp (domestic violence), or honour the entirety of their own history, which is neatly kept in this meme:
I mean, we’re angry, sure. But at what? I’m willing to suggest, that in an effort to change and set things right, we’ve slightly overstepped, but we’ve done so with the best of intentions.
James Gunn gets fired over tweets. Roseanne Barr gets fired over tweet. When will President Donald Trump get fired over his tweets?
— Harold Krieg (@Harold_Krieg) 23 July 2018
The other contemporary example is comedian Trevor Noah, who is currently under fire for a routine he did back in 2013, which made the suggestion that indigenous women were all ugly, but their ugliness was offset by their special didgeridoo-based sexual powers. As an indigenous person, I find it being awful comedy more than I find it insulting.
This is foul and not the first time @Trevornoah has been called out for making bigoted jokes. Says he learnt his lesson after visiting a museum and realising Aboriginal women are human beings? Bloody low bar mate. Where’s the full apology & retraction?https://t.co/z99AoKZ37O
— Jenny Noyes (@jennynoise) 23 July 2018
Noah has since apologised on Twitter and removed the video. Despite this, calls for a boycott of his upcoming Australian tour grow ever louder. He recognised his behaviour, and made an effort to change. That should be the end of it.
@joewilliams_tew you’re right. After visiting Australia’s Bunjilaka museum and learning about aboriginal history first hand I vowed never to make a joke like that again. And I haven’t. I’ll make sure the clip from 2013 is not promoted in any way.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) 22 July 2018
My point is here, is yes, all the old tweets and nefarious videos could have been deleted, but that’s a sidestep. What it actually is about personal growth, and that concerted effort to not repeat. In the modern sphere, we’re all attempting to do better, we’re learning. Through that, we’re subject to growing pains. These instances will continue to happen, and we need to keep out heads. I’m all for calling out instances in the current tense, but not long after their used-by dates.
Recognising our previous behaviour and changing that is the name of the game. James Gunn is a paedophile as much as Trevor Noah is a racist. It’s a diversion. We need to focus on who they are now against who they were then. If we find contemporary evidence of this behaviour, pile on.
Food for thought. https://t.co/B1nMpPWeZL
— Selma Blair (@SelmaBlair) 23 July 2018