Riley Wilcosh ’22
I never thought that this would turn into a think-piece. I was originally approached to write this article because of Gina Carano’s background.
Before her recent rise to fame on the hit Star Wars series The Mandalorian, Carano was a pioneer in women’s Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). She appeared in the first-ever televised WMMA event, becoming the first female star in a sport that was dominated by men.
When she appeared in Deadpool and then the aforementioned Disney + production, I was excited and I wanted Carano to succeed. Unfortunately, now under a much larger spotlight, Carano posted on Instagram likening the treatment of conservatives in modern America to that of the Jewish population by the German people before and during the Second World War.
In reaction, Lucasfilm denounced Carano’s statement and fired her. Newly unemployed, Carano signed a movie deal with Ben Shapiro, a controversial conservative political commentator and professional internet troll. This incident has made me reflect on the ideas behind “cancelling” someone.
I understand that I have to handle this topic carefully. And that bothers me, as someone who normally likes to play devil’s advocate, I question all sides and choose my preferred perspective through active discussion and thought on the topic.
But with this, I’m not really able to do that because of the reality that if I lean too heavily to one side, I could garner severe backlash from either or even both sides of this issue. It’s a fear of being cancelled for saying the wrong thing.
On one side of this issue is the correlation that many conservatives are making with the posts of Pedro Pascal, Carano’s co-star, who has also made a comparison to the Nazi era by overtly comparing practices at the US border to concentration camps. He hasn’t been fired. Although, some Trump supporters have openly carried and worn white supremacist and neo-Nazi symbols in the past, so while Pascal’s posts comparing Nazis to Trump conservatives are much more direct and outspoken than Carano’s, he has a little (albeit spurious) evidence to support his comparison.
Also, I had to think of this problem from Lucasfilm’s standpoint. They are in the business of making money, so when it comes to the reputation risk and backlash of keeping Carano, knowing she has made equally controversial posts in the past and would continue to do so, versus the inevitable backlash for firing her, the choice for them was obvious, I guess.
And like many big corporations are wont to do, Carano’s contract was made with a code of conduct clause, which is basically a stipulation forbidding her from making polarizing political statements to the public.
At the end of the day, Carano’s transgressions don’t really bother me. Her comments were tone-deaf and the metaphor was shaky, but I personally don’t think they were offensive enough for her to be “cancelled.” That is, unless her co-stars who make equally controversial comments from the other side of the political spectrum are held to exactly the same standards.
But then again, there are always more sides to every story and I am sure we don’t know everything about what actually happened. All that we see is what Carano and Lucasfilm want to show, and that is (of course) tainted by what they want us to hear and believe.
So, my opinion on the issue could change. I’m open to another perspective like everyone should be on issues that aren’t black and white. And at the end of the day, Carano will still be known to me as a trailblazer in the sport of MMA.
Photo credit: Justin Lubin / Lucasfilm Ltd.