Guardians of the Billboard

James Gunn. Photo by Mingle Media TV

For those sets of eyes that wandered over to this space expecting another Dana Watch column, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you will no longer be subjected to my weekly droolings involving a certain Orange Coast congressman (R-Putin’s Cornhole). The bad news is you will still be subjected to my weekly droolings on all kinds of other topics.

First up is a digital billboard that appeared Oct. 29 at 13451 Newhope St., Garden Grove, where it is scheduled to remain through Nov. 25.

Against a cosmic cluster worthy of an L. Ron Hubbard manifesto cover are the words “Save the Galaxy” in small type, “James Gunn for Vol. 3” in large type and “RehireJamesGunn.com” along the bottom.

Gunn is the 52-year-old filmmaker who wrote and directed Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He had been set to helm Vol. 3 until July, when he found himself in the cross-hairs of Laguna Niguel’s Mike Cernovich.

Self-described as being “new right” and an “American nationalist,” but labeled as “alt-right” and a male supremacist by others, Cernovich is best known for regularly hosting InfoWars’ The Alex Jones Show and spreading the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which alleged Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta operated a child-sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria basement.

Cernovich—a onetime rape suspect who, after the charges were dropped, made a mission of investigating sexual-assault and child-molestation allegations and once said, “Date rape does not exist”—dug up and reposted tweets Gunn put up years earlier joking about rape and pedophilia.

That led to calls on Disney, which owns Marvel Entertainment, to fire Gunn as the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director. Disney did just that on July 20, and 10 days later, Gunn received a joint letter of support from the franchise’s cast members, including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Michael Rooker.

The firing also led to a grassroots rehiring campaign that included a group of fans raising nearly $5,000 through GoFundMe.com to post the digital billboard that can be viewed from the eastbound 22 freeway just before the Harbor Boulevard exit.

Take the exit and head four miles north on Harbor, and you will reach the front gates of Disneyland, proving yet again it’s a small world after all.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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