In a preemptive “why not?” move that follows the firing of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has deleted approximately 20,000 tweets from his Twitter account.
Johnson replied to an article about his Twitter purge on the social media platform on Wednesday to clarify there was “no official directive at all” for this move. “I don’t think I’ve ever tweeted anything that bad,” he wrote. “But it’s nine years of stuff written largely off the cuff as ephemera, if trolls scrutinizing it for ammunition is the new normal, this seems like a ‘why not?’ move.”
Gunn was dropped by Disney from directing Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 after right-wing Twitter users, including alt-right personality Mike Cernovich, resurfaced past tweets he wrote about rape, molestation, AIDS, and other topics. In an official statement, Gunn called these decade-old comments “totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative.” He had also apologized in the past for similar comments made online, but Disney released a statement last week announcing the end of their business relationship.
Johnson, who’s been targeted by a different breed of internet troll, is also a member of the Disney family through Lucasfilm. In addition to directing The Last Jedi, he’s developing a brand-new film trilogy in the Star Wars universe.
Responding to another user on Twitter, the filmmaker noted “there are apps” that can delete tweets in bulk “with the flip of a switch.”
Community veteran and Rick & Morty co-creator Dan Harmon also came under fire for participating years earlier in a video that simulated the sexual violation of a doll. Harmon deleted his Twitter and apologized for the video. “Nobody should ever have to see what you saw,” he said. Adult Swim called the 2009 video “offensive,” but acknowledged Harmon “understands there is no place for this type of content here at Adult Swim.”
Other figures who have found themselves in this discussion are comedians Michael Ian Black, Sarah Silverman, and Patton Oswalt — all of whom have been targeted by the same collective of conservative users who brought up Gunn’s old tweets.