Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is filming now in Atlanta, and on Monday, photos of Chris Pratt and Karen Gillan, along with a coterie of animal-inspired aliens, were seen on set. Pratt and Gillan, as Star-Lord and Nebula, respectively, are sporting new duds, suggesting the Guardians have a more cohesive team aesthetic going for them these days. Neato. Of course, we’ll see the Guardians before their movie next year, when Thor Love and Thunder comes out this summer. They’ll at least be in it long enough to wave goodbye to Thor.
In case you missed it, the Worst Chris thing flared up again recently. A Twitter random, which I don’t say to be mean but to emphasize that this is just some person on Twitter, not a person with the power to do anything, tweeted the following:
Marvel. Hear me out. Justâ€¦ replace him. pic.twitter.com/g4pfZ9ni7s— meghan 2.0ã€Œshe/herã€ (@themeghanlodon_) April 24, 2022
And then James Gunn replied with:
HEAVING A HUGE SIGH.
We all gotta come to an agreement here. Famous people of the world, but especially the half of you involved with Marvel—some people don’t like Chris Pratt. Some people call him “Worst Chris” as a way of signaling they aren’t talking about one of the other famous blonde Chrises in a superhero movie, because we can argue Best Chris forever, but everyone kinda came to a consensus on Worst Chris a while ago, and Pratt won. Or lost, however you look at it. Anyway, let the public have this. We’re peons with no power, we just have jokes. And those jokes, no matter how viral the tweet goes, ultimately aren’t going to harm Chris Pratt. He’s still famous, rich, and employed. So some people don’t like him, boo hoo. No one has a 100% approval rating.
And for the peons, myself included, we gotta realize there are as many people who like Chris Pratt as do not. The stuff the internet doesn’t like about him—the hunting, the overt churchiness, that time he gave away his (ex)wife’s cat on Twitter—people less online LOVE about him. The hunting and the overt churchiness play REALLY well in some quadrants, and some people legitimately don’t care how people treat their pets. Marvel is never going to replace him. The Jurassic franchise won’t either. Nor will the next big thing he’s in. It sucks he turned out to be such a good actor he fooled us into thinking Andy Dwyer was real, but them’s the brakes. We’re stuck with Worst Chris in a LOT of our entertainment.
But there’s another angle to this that James Gunn touched on, and that is that people don’t like Chris Pratt because of his religious affiliation, particularly his cool church in LA, Zoe Church.
The head pastor of Zoe Church, Chad Veach, has stated he modeled Zoe on Hillsong, the Australian-founded megachurch that was part of the “cool church” movement of the 2000s. It is important to note that Zoe is not Hillsong, but they do share an intentional DNA, specifically in messaging and outreach style, going after young and hip parishioners, attempting to stem the flow of believers leaving churches, and organized religion, in droves—Gen Z is set to surpass Millennials as the least religious cohort yet. And because Zoe is deliberately modeled on Hillsong’s style, it IS fair to wonder what else of Hillsong’s teachings Zoe uses. Hillsong pushed conversion therapy until 2011, and even still Brian Houston, the former head pastor who recently resigned amid a sex scandal, did not open church leadership positions to people from the LGBTQ+ community, saying he and Hillsong would not “affirm a gay lifestyle”.
Is that part of Zoe’s creed, too? It would hardly be unusual, a lot of churches preach a “love the sinner, hate the sin” position, except that assumes that being queer is “a sin” and thus, inherently wrong. It continues the falsity that queerness is a choice, and not a condition of being. A lot of people’s dislike of Chris Pratt is the church thing, some because people HAVE heard stuff about Hillsong—a church mired in hypocrisy—and/or Zoe that turns them off, or just because, maybe, they grew up in a church environment that rejected them, maybe even harmed them. Back in 2019, Jef Rouner from the Houston Press wrote an excellent piece about Pratt, his church, and a lazy kind of faith that makes no real effort to be inclusive, despite espousing inclusive language.
James Gunn and Chris Pratt have become friends over the years, and I understand Gunn’s desire to defend his friend against what he sees as unfair hate spewed by a mean and callous internet that constantly gets wrong what church Pratt goes to. But the famous people gotta realize the memes and the jokes are the only power—and it isn’t even real power—we have. We can’t dislodge Chris Pratt from pop culture and we know it, but we can make endless jokes about it. And for some people, not all but some, those jokes might be touching on real pain around religion, faith, and queerness, and their Worst Chris humor is a way of processing their personal experiences. It’s not even really about Chris Pratt, it’s what he’s come to represent in the larger cultural consciousness, and that’s out of his control and maybe not even fair to him as a person, but he’s famous and that happens to famous people sometimes. But we peons have to accept Chris Pratt isn’t going anywhere, no matter how many mean tweets we do about it.