Gina Carano, rebel leader
Culture | The former Disney actress becomes a champion of cultural resistance
by Megan Basham
Posted 2/16/21, 02:30 pm
Actress Gina Carano is shaking the Disney dust off her feet. After Lucasfilm fired her from its popular Star Wars series The Mandalorian, the former MMA fighter quickly landed a new gig producing and starring in an upcoming film for conservative media company The Daily Wire.
A group of Twitter agitators had called on Lucasfilm, which is owned by Disney, to part ways with Carano for months over her right-leaning social media posts, which included listing her pronouns as “beep/bop/boop”—a nod to the robots of Star Wars—and making fun of California’s mask requirements. Her detractors achieved their goal last week after Carano shared this TikTok post, written by another user: “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors … even by children. 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?”
In a statement announcing the company no longer employed Carano, Lucasfilm called the comments “abhorrent and unacceptable” and claimed the actress had denigrated people “based on their cultural and religious identities.” Carano’s talent agency, UTA, also dropped her.
Many conservatives, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, took to Twitter to express outrage at Disney’s decision. Some accused the company of hypocrisy in firing Carano but continuing to work with the Chinese government despite its genocide against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang province. Others pointed out Lucasfilm took no action against Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal, who has also shared social media posts that compare modern American politics to Nazism, though from a left-wing perspective. The same day Lucasfilm made its announcement, the hashtag #cancelDisneyplus took over the top slot on Twitter’s trending board.
Some liberals also defended Carano. New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, who is Jewish, penned a piece accusing Disney of blacklisting her. Chait wrote he did not find Carano’s post “especially insightful. But overheated comparisons to Nazi Germany are quite common, and, more to the point, not anti-Semitic. There is no hint anywhere in the post of sympathy for Nazis or blame for their victims.”
Chait also chided his fellow journalists for failing to scrutinize the actions of Disney or of Carano’s talent agency. He added that most mainstream reporting framed Carano’s posts “as though they were a series of petty crimes, the punishment of which is inevitable and self-evidently justified.” MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted of Chait’s essay, “I’ve got my quibbles here and there, but basically agree with this.”
Jewish writer Bari Weiss, herself recently pushed out of The New York Times by coworkers who found her views too moderate, reached out to Carano directly. She came away from their conversation convinced the actress hadn’t intended to minimize Nazi crimes or diminish the Jewish community’s singular experience. “I see the image she shared as historically and politically uncomprehending,” Weiss wrote on the independent newsletter platform Substack, “but I do not feel that it denigrates Jews qua Jews.”
Daily Wire cofounder Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, clearly must have felt the same. During the 2016 election, more anti-Semitic tweets targeted Shapiro than any other journalist, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Yet the day after Disney sacked Carano, Shapiro told the entertainment news site Deadline she was “an incredible talent dumped by Disney and Lucasfilm for offending the authoritarian Hollywood Left.” The company even promoted the deal by tweeting, “Become a DW member today with promo code GINA for 25% off, and join the cultural resistance.”
Of course, there’s likely another reason The Daily Wire leapt so quickly to secure a deal with Carano: She’s a bona fide star who comes with a large, devoted fan base, something the company didn’t have with its first foray into the entertainment industry last month, the gritty action film Run Hide Fight.
The Mandalorian played a major role in the success of Disney+ since it launched in November 2019. Carano’s Cara Dune character, written especially for her by creator Jon Favreau, was particularly popular. The black-clad Cara Dune action figure released in 2020 quickly sold out. Toymaker Hasbro was gearing up for another production run before Carano’s cancellation.
Carano seems equally grateful to have found a place with the conservative outlet. “I cried out and my prayer was answered,” she told Deadline. “I am sending out a direct message of hope to everyone living in fear of cancellation by the totalitarian mob … they can’t cancel us if we don’t let them.”
In making the announcement, Shapiro promised the company’s new entertainment division would provide a home for creators like Carano who “refuse to bow to the mob.”
“We’re eager to bring Gina’s talent to Americans who love her,” he said, “and we’re just as eager to show Hollywood that if they want to keep canceling those who think differently, they’ll just be helping us build the X-wing to take down their Death Star.”
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Megan is film and television editor for WORLD and co-host for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide to Having It All. Megan resides with her husband, Brian Basham, and their two daughters in Charlotte, N.C. Follow her on Twitter on @megbasham.