The Cancellation of Gina Carano

A closer look into the controversial social media post shared by ‘Mandalorian’ supporting star, Gina Carano and the uncomfortable triumph of Cancel Culture.

Following controversial social media posts, actor Gina Carano has been confirmed to no longer be a part of the popular Disney+ series, The Mandalorian. A spokesperson for the Star Wars series’ production company stated, “Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

The main backlash came from an instagram post shared via the actor’s IG story earlier that same day. The post, seems to originate from Warrior Priest Gym and Podcast’s IG, and draws a comparison between having unpopular political beliefs in today’s social climate to being Jewish in Nazi-occupied territories during The Holocaust.

“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views.”

It isn’t clear whether Carano is quoting WPG&P or if WPG&P is quoting someone else. Above the quote is an added comment:

Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children.

The accompanying image is a black & white photograph depicting a beaten woman, whom I assume is Jewish, in her under-garments and nose bloodied, seemingly crying or yelling as she’s chased by nationalists — The one nearest, (possibly a child) is smiling and holding a blunt weapon. It’s a very striking image, sharply conveying a glimpse into the horrors that occurred during the Nazi regime. Needless to say, the post was received with severe upset. The comparison and visual, understandably offensive.

This isn’t the first time Carano has come into public scrutiny for expressing her thoughts. Insensitive response to displaying pronouns, defending anti-masks during the pandemic and warning against voter fraud during the 2020 elections have made Carano’s recent unpopular share, the straw that broke the camel’s back. It isn’t clear whether Lucasfilm had already planned to cease working with the actor as the #fireginacarano hashtag had previously trended as a public demand for accountability — But her latest strike possibly made the decision more urgent. Gina has also been released as a client from United Talent Agency (UTA) and ID Public Relations.

Her supporters have rallied a counter-demand to #canceldisneyplus. They cite freedom of speech rights, and are convinced that Carano’s opinion, regarding persecution for political views, is validated by her “cancellation.”

There’s a lot to unpack here and I haven’t seen an attempt to do so from anything I’ve read about this report so far. Perhaps not much is known but from what I can immediately find, there’s a lot more than what’s been offered. At first glance, it would appear like Carano wrote something offensive about The Holocaust and was fired as a result. The omission of certain details is either a result of rushed reporting or intentional soft-lining to avoid a bigger role in the conversation. Because Carano’s termination is part of an ongoing discussion about Cancel Culture. One that’s also at the heart of Carano’s political views and more specifically her opinion that she’s being persecuted and bullied for expressing them.

This, it seems to me, is the message behind the post she shared. That there’s a mob mentality that publicly punishes people with certain political views. And while she didn’t write the words, sharing implies she agrees with them, so we can imagine Carano sees herself victimized for what she believes in. The message with which she chose to express this is definitely problematic, especially since National Socialism is itself, a political view. And when Nazis are responsible for the atrocities described in the post, one can only imagine that criticizing and opposing such a political view, would not only prove noble but more importantly, justifiable.

But even if the message were better crafted it would be a hard sell that any political view in the U.S. has undergone the type of persecution or prejudice usually reserved for minority groups— Marginalization due to race, foreign nationality, sex, or sexual orientation, within the United States has and still accounts for physical, legal, and economic violence rarely experienced by someone simply because they believe germ spread-preventing masks should be optional. This is why the analogy in the IG story doesn’t quite work. Hating someone for their political view depends on the political view (some of which are hateful and harmful), but hating someone due to the color of their skin or ethnicity is much harder to justify. Thus, more cruel and devastating when people commit acts based on that hatred.

That said, there is, I believe, a danger to how institutions and publications respond to Gina Carano. Above, I called her IG share a “strike” but I don’t believe she’s doing this to score or win our approval. The common denominator in all her controversial posts and tweets, is a challenge. She’s challenging what she believes is worrisome to her. She doesn’t like being told how to be Gina Carano. Is concerned when she believes there’s potential to cheat the system or when Government exceeds its bound on individual freedom. I’ve felt these things in my own way, likely so have you. Maybe not about the same politicians and policies but we all get concerned when some shit that seems to attack how we live our lives suddenly surfaces.

We should be able to express those concerns, and those who don’t agree with us should likewise be able to communicate why. Otherwise, we need to shut down social media for everybody — Because expressing ourselves and sharing ideas is what all the users on these sites are encouraged to do. So as much as I disagree with the post on her IG story, I also disagree with the response to it. The statement from Lucasfilm, which combined diplomatic vagueness with righteous judgement, conveniently omits the production company’s business incentive to distance themselves from Carano, whose continual bad press might affect viewership of not only ‘The Mandalorian’ but also any future installment featuring Carano’s Cara Dune character.

I likewise disagree with how the media has covered the story — The false impression that Carano wrote the post; the interpretations of the post without including the original quote. The reminder of Carano’s previous social media controversies without exploring her reasons. All these have been manipulated to support the idea that Carano’s behavior is “abhorrent and unacceptable,” making her termination a reasonable resolution.

Yet, what have we resolved? Considering the point of the post was ultimately a commentary on how public opinions are attacked, then we should feel a little awkward when her public opinion, clunky, outsourced and haphazard as it may be, is not only attacked, but also punished. And it would be one thing if she authored the post, or if she had specifically added or supported anti-semitic comments regarding The Holocaust, or suggested pro-Nazi rhetoric. But honestly, the post, even at it’s worst interpretation, is dependent on the central idea that the treatment of Jewish people in Nazi-occupied territories was horrible.

The Republican Party is never mentioned in the post, but one can assume it is Carano’s connection to certain divisive political views espoused by members of this political party that inspired her to share it on her stories. Was that wrong of her? She’s not a politician, (who often say much worse and face much less). She’s not a poli-sci professor or any more of a content creator than anyone who can open a social media account. It’s true as a celebrity she has a massive following but does that mean she isn’t allowed to express her political beliefs?

Or is it that, if those beliefs aren’t the “right” ideas, then she’s being irresponsible and thereby must get cancelled?

Warrior Priest’s analogy would have made a better point if instead of Jews during The Holocaust, it had used Communists during The McCarthy era in the U.S. There is a closer parallel between U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s paranoid Post-WWII crusade to openly identify and possibly punish Communist subversion on U.S. soil and today’s frenzy to silence what we consider subversive and antagonistic to our perceived American ideals. I’m not saying certain political views aren’t dangerous — In fact, certain groups take advantage of this censorship to appropriate victimization, to say for instance, their right to speak freely is being suppressed. Which is why sometimes cancellation strengthens causes, the way death strengthens martyrs. This is why public discourse is so important because just like in a relationship, silencing and shaming your partner is usually the worst way to communicate.

1950s Anti-Communist Propaganda

To “cancel” a celebrity with disagreeable political views is easier than discussing those views, having empathy and seeing things from their perspective and educating one another. There’s likely misunderstandings on all sides and we can all benefit from learning a thing or two. If we’re to live together as a society regardless of what politics we choose to champion— Then we need to get better at listening. And while listening, discerning when not enough is being said. Popular media coverage today seems to tip-toe through the details, like a messenger who fears being shot. The critiques and analysis are mostly left to be worked out by the unfiltered pits of Twitter and Facebook, where people post, repost and argue about the minimally recounted event. It’s a worrisome practice when it’s fevered and there’s a possibility that the people most upset, offended, and loud, might not even have all the details.

That might not make them equivalent to Nazis during The Holocaust but it’s nonetheless not who I want judging and determining my fate. How bout you?

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