After director James Gunn’s unceremonious ouster from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise last week as a result of controversial tweets buried in his timeline that were unearthed by alt-right journalists, Rian Johnson’s decision to delete some 20,000 of his old tweets posted before this January has sent online conspiracy theorists pondering about whether he has anything to hide, and if Disney has issued instructions to its directing stable to cover up their social media histories.
The story found its way to The Mary Sue, whose op-ed suggested deletion of social media history was becoming “best practice” for figures in the public eye. Johnson responded to that report by confirming there was “no official directive at all” from Disney to do it, but that yes, “if trolls scrutinizing [tweets] for ammunition is the new normal, this seems like a ‘why not?’ move.”
Johnson has been an active figure on Twitter since he joined in 2009, and has always used social media as a direct way to connect with fans—and critics—of his work. “I don’t think I’ve ever tweeted anything that bad,” he also said. In recent months, he had used the platform to defend Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran, who wiped her own social media after trolls targeted her race in their criticisms of Johnson’s Star Wars episode.
Of course, this is Twitter, so opinions have readily tumbled in every direction imaginable, with some defending Johnson’s common-sense move and others… not so much. To their credit, The Mary Sue responded to Johnson’s clarification with an apology to the director. “Much like you were preemptive in your harmless deletes, we were preemptive in our assumptions,” they tweeted. “Glad this was all a misunderstanding on our end!”