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Gina Carano Strikes Back
So I spent a long time writing a post on the #FireGinaCarano debacle and how we all need to calm down, stop making politics the center of our lives and forgive one another. Some radical nonsense, I know.
But Gina Carano—who played Cara Dune in The Mandalorian until Disney dropped her earlier this week—is now doubling down, and not in a good way. In a stupid way. I suspect the stupid will only grow from here on out, alas.
As many readers have pointed out to me, Carano has said numerous controversial things on social media. She’s played down the coronavirus as a hoax and made fun of masks, shown support for Qanon conspiracy theories and even the Capitol riots. She has, in so many words, tested the boundaries of Disney’s patience. At a certain point, this was bound to happen. You tune a guitar string too tightly it’s going to snap. You don’t get to cry about it after the fact.
Now Carano is hitting back and it’s really just a bad doubling down of the nonsense she’s been spouting already.
“The Daily Wire is helping make one of my dreams—to develop and produce my own film come true,” she told Deadline. “I cried out and my prayer was answered. I am sending out a direct message of hope to everyone living in fear of cancellation by the totalitarian mob. I have only just begun using my voice which is now freer than ever before, and I hope it inspires others to do the same. They can’t cancel us if we don’t let them.”
I have been critical of “cancel culture” but I will also say this: You can’t simply shout “cancel culture” each time something bad happens because of the actions you took, the words you said or the choices you made. These things have consequences and it’s not “cancel culture” when you have to face the music.
Carano was clearly given many chances. It was her choice to post a stupid meme comparing the suffering of conservatives to the plight of the Jews in Nazi Germany, and her choice to say that Nazi soldiers didn’t beat up Jewish people. She posted this of her own free will knowing that there could be consequences. You can’t just holler and moan about “cancel culture” when you make choices and those have consequences.
She was not fired for being conservative. Christ Pratt is a conservative and he still stars in The Guardians Of The Galaxy movies. She was fired for posting controversial, sometimes offensive things to social media on multiple occasions. This is what we call an “unforced error.” Many people in many different jobs would face similar consequences for this. You have the right and the freedom to say whatever you want, but employers have the right to kick you to the curb if you go too far.
So while I don’t think our first impulse online should be to call for someone to be fired over their tweets, I do think Carano wants to have her cake and eat it, too. She wants to be able to say incendiary things that she knows will piss people off and suffer no consequences for it. But it’s not the “totalitarian mob” that’s brought ruin down on her head. It’s Gina Carano. She’s the only one responsible for that. Holding ourselves accountable for the things we say and do is a big part of just being a well-adjusted adult in general.
Noticeably absent from Carano’s statement is an apology. She doesn’t say “I’m sorry I offended people. When I realized what this meme was saying, I took it down right away. That was never my intention. My bad.”
Instead, Carano talks about her voice being “freer than ever before” and all I can do is cringe. Without the moderating influence of her Star Wars gig, I suppose she’s going to go full right-winger. And instead of self-reflection, she’s simply doubling down on the bullshit. “They can’t cancel us if we don’t let them” is all fine and good, but what are you really offering up in return? Not hilarious, transgressive stand-up comedy like her fellow Mandalorian co-star Bill Burr. Not keen observations about America or culture.
It’s a persecution complex. That’s how a successful MMA fighter turned actor starring in a hugely popular Star Wars show can compare herself to the Jews in Nazi Germany.
A reader—former co-blogger and all around good egg, Pat—expressed this very well in the comments:
“It's *important* to some folks for them to be persecuted/part of the "out-crowd". It's a integral part of how they look at their internal narrative about the world. I'm not saying it is a certainty in her case, but all the external symptoms point to it.
“This isn't just a right-leaning thing, either. You see this on the left, too, Susan Sarandon is probably the current poster child for this on the left.
“It's a degenerative version of that old Marx saw: "I wouldn't be a member of any club that would accept me", where making yourself unacceptable to clubs becomes a necessary part of how you navigate the world.”
I think this is a terrific observation. It’s a lot like self-pity. Victim complexes always are. You do something to upset people then claim to be a victim when the people you intentionally tried to piss off get angry.
So does this really change my thesis from my previous post? Not really. Carano is clearly just going to keep moving in the wrong direction and I don’t know that we could have avoided that one way or another, but I still think we need to change the way we disagree with each other somehow. The outcomes so far are not ideal. Pushing people ever further toward extremism and into deeper and more isolated echo chambers is probably not a great solution.
As I said, Disney had every right to fire her and I’m not shedding any tears over that decision. They have a brand to think about and she was probably a huge pain. She just threw away an incredible opportunity over stupid political memes. It’s nuts.
Nor did Carano ever truly have to live in “fear of cancellation by the totalitarian mob.” All she had to do was moderate what she posted on social media and be a professional.
But I’ve also faced the Twitter mob over things that were never even close to as offensive or controversial as Carano’s posts and it was a brutal, demoralizing and stressful experience. Twitter can be a truly awful place sometimes and people can quickly twist your words, spread outright falsehoods and dogpile you into oblivion.
I just wonder if we can do better. Be better.
Maybe not, but a boy can dream.