The fan-made film Spider-Man: Lotus recently gained massive popularity on social media ... but for the wrong reasons.
The upcoming production (not associated with Sony or Marvel Studios in any way) is currently in hot water after a series of social media messages resurfaced online and exposed extreme racist and homophobic language used by the film's lead actor and writer-director, Warden Wayne and Gavin Konop, respectively.
Both parties have faced immense backlash for their comments, with fans of the highly-discussed fan film sharing their thoughts about the blatant racism. Keep reading for all the known details regarding the controversial situation.
'Spider-Man: Lotus' is under fire for severe racism.
On June 19, Twitter user @thnnder leaked Instagram messages from Warden casually using extreme racist language, including multiple uses of racial slurs against Black people. Since then, others involved, including writer-director Gavin Konop and Green Goblin actor John Salandria, are facing backlash for their own usage of racist, ableist, and homophobic slurs.
This thread includes everything you need to know.
Amid the controversy, Warden released an official statement on Twitter. Although he apologized, the aspiring actor claimed his use of racial and homophobic slurs were influenced by his conservative and religious upbringing.
"I was raised in a homeschool conservative environment in a small town in Arkansas, where I had to sneak around on other iPads and computers to use social media," Warden shared. "My family has always been associated with groups such as the Duggars, and those values were subsequently pushed onto me."
He added, "My friend group at the time encouraged and perpetuated these habits. All of it quickly became a part of my vocabulary because of the lifestyles around me, and I didn't want to be excluded."
"The groups I associated with online were not good people. But I wanted to fit in, and have friends. So I aligned myself and tried to act in ways they'd approve of. Which included saying offensive things for the sake of a reaction or making ignorant jokes."
The 'Spider-Man: Lotus' writer-director faces backlash for his own racism.
As for Gavin Konop, the Spider-Man: Lotus writer-director responded to the situation in his own Twitter statement, defending Warden and revealing he was aware of his comments.
"In the past, Warden has been open with me about his former ignorance, as well as what could surface as a result, and I have done everything in my power to hold him accountable — not only then, but also today, and forever," he wrote.
"I bluntly told him that this is going to [live] with him for the rest of his life — there's nothing he can do about it, and that's the reality he's accepted," Gavin added.
Following Gavin's statement, a member of the VFX team on Spider-Man: Lotus accused him of overworking the crew, setting near impossible deadlines, mis-crediting several workers, and not paying the storyboard artists.
Additionally, @Berkmanboom shared Instagram screenshots that displayed Gavin himself using racist, ableist, and homophobic language. As a result, he released another statement, addressing the situation and claiming the screenshots were photoshopped.
"I do not condone any of the fake screenshots circulating around. I am and always will be one to take accountability for myself and accept where I am wrong; however, many of these are not reflective of the way I currently speak or express myself."
"While I can't attest to all of them, I can say that some pretty disgusting screen-recordings and screenshots out there are real," Gavin continued. "In my early years of middle school and high school, the R-word, along with other unacceptable terms such as the F-word, were part of my vocabulary, and I had used them fairly frequently."
No one thought things could get worse, but they have; on June 20, @derrickouthere shared screenshots of his Instagram conversation with John Salandria, the actor who portrays the Green Goblin in Spider-Man: Lotus.
The messages reveal John defending Warden and Gavin's use of racial slurs, later claiming slang and informal grammar makes people "undervalued" and "unintelligent." With that said, many believed he targeted African-American Vernacular English with that sentiment, thus sparking further claims of racism among the fan-made film crew.