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Beef of the Day: Liz Shannon Miller

Yesterday, we debuted Humanzee! to a generally good (though often disgusted) response.  When I come out with a new project I don't read too much about it, but I will read a review here and there. If the review is positive, I'm slightly pleased and if it's negative — well, of course I don't love it, but I pretty easily let it go.  I've been creating entertainment content for books, films, TV, and the web for nearly fifteen years, and I've become somewhat immune to all of it.

That said, every once in a while, a review or article on one of my projects pisses me off, and that happened yesterday.

Yesterday, Liz Shannon Miller wrote a Humanzee! article for NewTeeVee, Does James Gunn's Humanzee Reveal Xbox's Secret Prudishness?  The article was then reposted by numerous other sites, such as Salon.com, CNN.com, and so on.  Miller only gave the show two out of five stars.  That wasn't a big surprise: Humanzee! isn't a project meant for everyone.  But what really pisses me off are the sweeping assumptions Miller makes in the rest of her article, stating them as facts, and how little journalistic integrity she and so many of her ilk have.

Miller writes about how Humanzee! was originally produced as an XBOX Live show, part of the Horror-Goes-Comedy series, but was deemed too offensive by XBOX and they returned the rights to me.  All of that is true.  But then Miller comes to her conclusions on why that came about:

There was no nudity; the profanity was perhaps a bit gratuitous but hardly beyond the pale; and the gore effects were bloody but not overtly realistic or terribly shocking. The key issue, probably, was the Humanzee himself — while clearly a fantasy character, his appearance and behavior could be mistaken for mental disability, and thus the scenes humiliating and debasing him take on an uneasy tint.

HUH? WHAT? She goes on:

So take that as you will, filmmakers hoping for a Microsoft deal: swears, yes, making fun of the mentally handicapped and physically deformed, nope. It’s a lesson even Gunn had to learn for himself.

Let me get this straight: You're coming to the conclusion that the Humanzee is retarded, and, therefore, obviously, that's why XBox didn't air the show?


Honestly, do you have any shred of evidence for that conclusion besides your "guess"?  But you're willing to put that out there as fact, and talk about the "lesson" I learned?  I love how these Internet "journalists" can make these outrageous statements, when it would merely take a simple Google search to find out if their theory has any validity whatsoever.

Well, not only is Ms. Miller completely fucking wrong, IT'S DOCUMENTED ALL OVER THE WORLD WIDE FUCKING WEB that XBox had other reasons for censoring Humanzee! and the other XBox shorts.  And foul language, which Ms. Miller dismisses as an impossibility, is a key factor. 

How easy is this information to find?  Well, the only reason anyone even knows that Humanzee! was taken off the XBox roster for content is because of me.  Primarily they know from a blog I wrote here a while back, My Painful XBox Experience, which was reposted by dozens of sites.  In the blog I share how XBox not only wanted me to cut such words as "fuck" and "shit" out of my XBox short SPARKY & MIKAELA, but they also wanted me to cut "penis" and "vagina."

That's right: penis and vagina.  So you can imagine that, in Humanzee!, my character talking about a chimpanzee's cunt and Rooker's Father Flannagan stating a human-chimp hybrid is "like throat-fucking God" might be mildly offensive to them.

But perhaps it's difficult for Ms. Miller to Google and read ALL THOSE WORDS.  Well, in that case, she could have simply watched the Horror Meets Comedy shorts themselves, where every single curse word or vaguely sexual reference is bleeped or cut completely. And entire scenes from all the episodes thought to be too violent or sexual were deleted entirely.

The truth is, when asked what XBox found offensive about Humanzee! their answer was – and I'm not kidding – "everything."  I was told, "If you cut out everything we found objectionable, it would be twelve seconds long."  They found it all offensive, including the general concept, even after okaying the script – but, if there were particulars I remember them especially blanching over, it was the c-word and the cheese grater to the Humanzee's head.  No one ever mentioned anything about Humanzee being mentally handicapped, to my knowledge.  To me, he's not mentally handicapped.  He's a half-animal abomination that should never have been.  And that's why we love him so much.

Anyway, this probably isn't worth my fury, but just because people write for the Internet doesn't mean they don't have any responsibility to the truth whatsoever.  Just the smallest amount of research might do you well before making sweeping pronouncements as if they were fact.

And, as you might have imagined, this entire blog is just a calculated way to get you to watch Humanzee! once again, or, if you're lucky, for the first time ever ("**! – Liz Shannon Miller").


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