By BEN R. WILLIAMS
Last week, Gina Carano, one of the stars of the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian,” made headlines for losing her job in a remarkably stupid way.
For those unfamiliar, Carano played the role of Cara Dune, a rough and tumble intergalactic warrior on the most popular series on Disney’s wildly popular streaming service. “The Mandalorian” is set in the world of Star Wars, and Carano’s character was so beloved by fans that Disney was apparently planning to give her her own spin-off show.
Unfortunately for Carano, she orchestrated her own downfall. For months on Twitter, she had shared baseless accusations that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, criticized mask mandates, mocked trans people, and most recently, posted an image comparing being a conservative in today’s America to being a Jew during the Holocaust.
Carano had been warned by Disney about her controversial tweets, and that last one was apparently the tweet that broke the camel’s back. Disney wasted no time firing her from “The Mandalorian” and cancelled her spin-off show.
Before we get into the weeds of “cancel culture,” let me say this: if Disney cast me on the most popular and well-reviewed Star Wars-related thing since 1983 and also offered me my own spin-off, but the one caveat was that every day I had to stand on a street corner for an hour holding up a sign that said “I’m a stupid diaper baby,” I would not consider that an overly burdensome trade-off. A person could live like a king just off the residuals alone! Not to mention merchandising and convention appearances! How hard is it to not tweet comparisons to the Holocaust? I’ve never tweeted about the Holocaust at all, and I don’t even have millions of dollars at stake.
Having said that, Carano has plenty of supporters and they’re up in arms about her dismissal from the show. I’ve mainly seen two complaints:
- Carano being fired from “The Mandalorian” was a violation of her First Amendment rights.
- Carano being fired for her views is an example of Disney catering to the whims of a small but vocal minority who are attempting to silence conservative voices.
The first point is the most straightforward one to address, so let’s begin there: Carano’s dismissal from the show is in no way a violation of her First Amendment rights. The First Amendment prevents the government from abridging the freedom of speech. Disney is not the government (at least, not yet), so her Constitutional rights were not violated.
The second point, however, is the one that I find more interesting.
I will begin by saying this: I have my issues with the concept of “cancel culture,” particularly when people are boycotted for statements they made years earlier. People grow and evolve over time (hopefully, anyway), and I can say with certainty that I cracked jokes years ago that I would never make now. If someone says something offensive and genuinely apologizes for their actions, I believe we should accept their apology; otherwise, we send the message that once you screw up in life one single time, you’re a write-off. That’s not helpful to anyone.
I’m reminded of a great line from a recent documentary about the hip hop group The Beastie Boys. In one section, Beastie Boys member Ad-Rock is asked if he’s a hypocrite because he now advocates for women while some of the group’s 1980s songs had misogynistic lyrics. Ad-Rock replies, “I’d rather be a hypocrite than the same person forever.”
Carano has not apologized for her words, of course; if anything, she’s doubled down over the last week or so. But the point is still worth making.
But getting back to the original argument: did Disney fire Gina Carano because they’re catering to the deranged whims of a small but vocal minority?
I’m going to say no, and I’ll add that I find this argument consistently hilarious.
I heard this same argument when Quaker Oats announced they were rebranding Aunt Jemima syrup. I heard it when Cheerios debuted a commercial with a mixed-race family. I heard it when Netflix cancelled comedian Louis CK’s special after it came out that he had done untoward things to women.
The fact is, major corporations do not cater to vocal minorities. Major corporations don’t do things out of a sense of altruism. Major corporations exist to do one thing and one thing alone:
Make as much money as fast as is humanly possible.
When Disney decided to fire Gina Carano, that meant exactly one thing: Disney’s fleet of accountants ran the numbers, and they determined that firing her would cause them to lose less money than if they kept her.
That’s it. That was the extent of the conversation. Maybe somebody in marketing threw out the word “optics” a couple of times, but ultimately, it all came down to money.
And if Disney decided that Carano was a bigger liability than an asset, that means they weren’t catering to the whims of a vocal minority. It means the vocal minority are the ones complaining about her being fired.
However, don’t feel too bad for Gina Carano. The day after she was fired, it was announced that she had signed on to make a movie with conservative website The Daily Wire.
Will this movie be as big of a hit as Star Wars? I suppose only time will tell.