James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Director, Mocks Conservative Disney Fans

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Good grief. When I first told the editors of Pirates and Princesses that I would cover the Orlando Sentinel Woke Disney article, it hadn’t yet blown up. At the time, we all assumed it was a means for the Sentinel to get easy clicks, make fun of the editorial author, and get some stuff trending. By my oh my, it certainly did get some extra legs when James Gunn decided to step in and essentially mock everyone who agrees with Jonathan VanBoskerck.

So… before we get into what VanBoskerck’s criticisms were and Gunn’s responses, let’s just get the elephant in the room out of the way. Yes, we’re talking about that James Gunn. The same director who was fired with haste from Disney for a long history of pedophile jokes, dressing like a pedophile, and other vulgar social media posts. Then, when conservative Christian actor Chris Pratt petitioned on his behalf based on everyone deserving redemption, Disney rehired him. This doesn’t typically happen to people on the other end of the political spectrum for lesser offenses. We’re looking at you, Gina Carano and Roseanne.

The tweet from Christ Pratt upon learning that James Gunn was being fired for pedophilia “jokes”:

So, let’s now review what the critiques are by VanBoskerck about The Walt Disney World, “wokeness”, and how they’re managing Walt Disney World. Based on reading the article, it seems it can be summarized this way:

1. He doesn’t want cast members expressing their individualism if that expression diminishes the immersion of the theme park experience, especially given that most people can’t express their individuality at work.

2. He takes issue with the change of Splash Mountain from the story of Bre’r Rabbit (authentic African American slave folklore) to Princess and the Frog (Disney originated content).

3. He doesn’t like that Trader Sam, a very popular character among Disney fans and for whom several establishments are named, has been removed from The Jungle Cruise Ride. He feels that riding the attraction in the future will be a reminder of Disney’s politics rather than the humor.

I can tell you that different people at Clownfish TV and Pirates and Princesses have different feelings about each one of these positions. I can also tell you that there are a not small number of guests who would affirm these positions as their own, even if they might not affirm every single one of them. What is utterly stupid of James Gunn is to mock people who feel the same way as the author of the Orlando Sentinel editorial. A lot of people really like the Trader Sam character… do you really want to call all the Trader Sam fans out there: “So f****** weird”?

For James Gunn, apparently you do want to call people who feel the same way “f****** weird”. As for me, I think people who make a habit of continual jokes about illegal sex with minors are “so freaking weird.”

None of this helps Disney. At a time when their stock has been dropping for the past month, and when they’ve stopped reporting on Disney+ statistics (when’s the last time a company stopped reporting good news?), they really don’t need a very controversial director pulling them into another culture war argument. They also don’t need attention drawn to the controversial changes they’re making at Disney World, such as destroying the only vestiges of authentic, African American folklore in the parks so they can get more princess merchandise out there.

When you’re halfway to the catch-up point with Netflix and subscriptions seem to be slowing, it’s not the best idea to insult half your audience. You don’t want Daily Wire (a conservative news website run by Ben Shapiro) running articles about your actions in the culture war. You don’t want Disney fans on forums mocking you for your Earth Day announcement because it essentially amounts to you clear-cutting vast forestland and wildlife habitats. Almost everything Disney is doing lately comes across as so disingenuous that even people who don’t follow pop culture news closely are beginning to distrust their company. Maybe they should.

“It’s cheaper and easier to chop down trees. That flies directly in the face of their earth day messages about all of this but it’s the reality of how they actually look at things.

This is the company that did away with plastic straws while simultaneously starting a sponsor agreement that had them giving out Ziplock bags for a single use, after all.

They don’t really care about any of it. They just want those of us who care to think they do. In fact, I’m sure they’re either saving or getting money out of all of this with land leased to the power companies and/or through state sponsored incentives.” — Mr. Promey, WDWMagic Forums

WDW Magic Forums

When James Gunn and other Disney personalities step into the culture war, mocking people who feel the same way as Mr. VanBoskerck, it only serves to put these controversies into the mainstream sphere. There doesn’t seem to be a win-win situation for Disney once mainstream guests start learning about the “Story Matters Group” and what they’re really up to. If there’s a way for Disney to continue gaining customers for their streaming service, it probably doesn’t include insulting the holdouts concerned over your values. The more Disney does this sort of thing, the more they dilute whatever magic their “pixie dust” has on the incomes of their fans.

But what do I know? Maybe Disney doesn’t want the wallets of those they call “so f****** weird.”


Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.



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