Rebel without an alliance
Entertainment | Star Wars actress breaks the political mold
by Collin Garbarino
Posted 11/24/20, 06:10 pm
The same fans who champion freedom-loving rebels in the Star Wars universe want, in the real world, to silence a strong-willed actress who exercises her freedom of speech and refuses to conform to the demands of Hollywood wokeness.
Gina Carano plays Cara Dune on The Mandalorian, the hit Star Wars series on Disney+, but some of the fan base wants her gone.
Carano, a former mixed martial arts fighter, plays a no-nonsense rebel combat veteran recovering from the war with the recently defeated evil Empire. Media and fans hailed her because she added to the Star Wars universe a woman who relied on physicality rather than magical powers, or the force. Vanity Fair said fans would enjoy “seeing a female character like Cara Dune contain the multitudes of physical power and aggression tempered by Carano’s natural sweetness.” Feminist fandom-website Mary Sue wrote a love letter to the character when she debuted.
Less than a year after the series’ launch, however, Carano’s status as a feminist darling began to unravel. She drew criticism on social media during the summer because she did not comment on the Black Lives Matter protests. In September, LGBT Twitter users attacked her because she refused to list her preferred gender pronouns in her Twitter bio. She listed her pronouns as beep/bop/boop, an allusion to the robotic noises of Star Wars droids, because she said she was fed up with continual harassment.
Carano’s social media interactions increasingly leaned right as the election approached. An earnest campaign to get her fired began on Nov. 14 after she shared a post that said Democratic leaders wanted people to wear blindfolds along with masks so they can’t see what’s going on. She also let her Twitter followers know they could follow her on Parler, the new social media app many conservatives have flocked to. Her critics responded they could no longer enjoy The Mandalorian. They started the hashtag #FireGinaCarano and unleashed a slew of insults and ill wishes such as hoping someone would beat up Carano or that she would catch COVID-19.
A few days after Carano’s tweets caught the internet’s attention, The New York Times ran an unrelated interview with actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn in which Russell warned fellow actors against making political statements because they harm the audience’s ability to be entertained. “I’ve always been someone who felt we are court jesters. That’s what we do,” Russell said. “As far as I’m concerned, you should step away from saying anything so that you can still be seen by the audience in any character.”
Hawn qualified her longtime partner’s assertion, saying actors have the personal freedom to make political statements, but, she added, “The one thing I don’t agree with is that just because we have a platform we always have to use it. That’s our choice.”
Now Russell’s fear is Carano’s reality. Some people can’t enjoy watching Carano play Cara Dune because they only see Carano’s politics. But the problem seems to be one-sided. Actors with progressive politics don’t risk the same kind of Internet hatred when they use their platforms.
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Collin is a correspondent and movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Louisiana State University graduate, and he teaches at Houston Baptist University. Collin resides with his wife and four children in Sugar Land, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @collingarbarino.