I saw a news article the other day about Joe Rogan and some controversy over things he and a comedian friend said on a podcast years ago, and I rolled my eyes. I figured it was online backlash about something stupid he tweeted, on the lines of James Gunn’s and (more recently) Hartley Sawyer’s, that got them in hot water.
Did some checking and it turns out the response to Joe Rogans podcast is, at least in my opinion, appropriate. (Condoning sexual assault is FAR worse than bad jokes.) It did get me thinking more about Jame Gunn and Hartley Sawyer though.
The thing that bothers me the most about Gunn and Sawyer is the age of the posts. In James Gunn’s case the tweets were 8 or more years old, and Hartley Sawyers’ posts were at least 6 years old. If the posts were current, as they were with Roseanne Barr, then perhaps there is something there, since it indicates current thinking; but with Gunn and Sawyer (and Kevin Hart, whose tweets were 9 years old), there was no allowance for personal growth.
The posts were definitely inappropriate and wrong, and I think would have more than justified the actions of the producers of the shows they people were forced to leave, had they been current; but to assume that old prejudices are relevant today is sloppy thinking. Its like firing someone for being a recovered drug user.
I think appropriate action would have been to take these people aside, see if they still have their prejudices, and THEN take action. We should allow people to address their old prejudices, and show growth. It might not be easy for production companies to weather the storm, but in the long term I think it is beneficial for society to show that personal growth is important, and everyone (including celebrities) make mistakes.
The controversial Joe Rogan and Joey Diaz podcast is from 2011, and had it been nothing more than comments, I would probably make the same argument for them, but it involved the commission of a crime, so nail them up. Gunn, Sawyer, and Hart’s jokes were in incredibly poor taste, but they were only jokes. Calling people out for misogyny, homophobia, and racism is appropriate. Punishing people for not being perfect their whole lives, is not; and does not promote personal growth.