Actions have consequences

Fuck around and find out

Actions have consequences

Gina Carano has been ejected from the Star Wars universe.

The news broke last night after a day of mounting outcry over an antisemitic post that The Mandalorian actress shared on an Instagram story, which compared the state of US politics as the precursor to Nazi Germany. She also shared posts mocking California’s mask mandate.

The outcry was swift and predictable: Carano has been on this trajectory for months now. Criticism began to mount in August and September after several posts about wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, the election fraud conspiracy theory, and mocked the use of trans pronouns.

The latest round of posts seems to have been the final straw. Lucasfilm released a statement saying that the actress “is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” and added “Her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.” United Talent Agency and ID PR, who represented her, has also dropped her.

It’s a move that seems to have been long in the making. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lucasfilm has been waiting for a fireable offense: “‘They have been looking for a reason to fire her for two months, and today was the final straw,’ a source with knowledge of Lucasfilm’s thinking tells THR.”

The cost here is high for Carano. Last December, Lucasfilm announced a slew of new shows, including two Mandalorian spinoffs, Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic. My assumption at the time was that she would have been one of the “Rangers”, and had a feeling that the reason she wasn’t named as part of the show because of the outcry that she was generating. But now, it looks even worse: she posted herself out of headlining her own show.

There’s a phrase that’s been floating around the internet the last couple of months that’s apt for this situation: “fuck around and find out,” which is exactly as it sounds: doing something that you know will result in some pretty swift and decisive consequences, like sticking your finger into a blender just to see what happens.

Carano found that out the hard way with her social media history; she’s been skirting the line to engage with followers, and it seems very much like she’s someone who’s fallen into the social media attention trap. Politics — especially controversial political rumination — is something that really drives up social media engagement, something that’s appealing to people who love to shitpost or troll their followers (or non-followers).

I can’t imagine that this turn of events would have come as a surprise. Every company is different, but I imagine that most studios like Lucasfilm and Disney have some sort of social media clause that helps guide one’s behavior while you’re employed by them – but they tend to be more of a “the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules” — no real specifics on what not to do. (This is speculation on my part — I don’t know what Disney’s guidelines are here, but I have to think that they have something.)

Looking at the reports that have come out, this is something that’s been on Lucasfilm’s mind for months, and someone had to have pulled Carano aside at some point to tell her to cut it out or to be more thoughtful about what she posted. Again, speculation on my part.

If that’s actually a turn of events that happened, that’s what really makes this a tragic affair: Carano essentially threw away her chance to headline a series in one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world … for shitty memes about masks.

This isn’t a right/left political thing; it’s a misinformation and anti-hate speech thing. There’s a lot of very clear study around the use of masks and COVID, around the lies about election fraud, and the other various things that she’s been posting about. It’s one thing to have an opinion about these topics, but another to spread gross misinformation.

I do think that there are constructive arguments to be made around the economic impact of shutdowns, of health policy, and whatnot, (not correct ones, in my view, but it’s valid to be concerned about how one policy is implemented) but then there are the arguments that lead to deadly real-world consequences like the conspiracy theories about masks, about election fraud, vaccines, and the like. It’s telling that Right-aligned folks are complaining about how misinformation and hate speech are “conservative” views, and how deeply what were once fringe ideas have leached into the public discourse.

Already, there are fans voicing their support for Carano, saying that they’ll cancel Disney+, and the like — I’m sure this’ll go over about as well as folks saying that they’ll boycott Star Wars after The Last Jedi. Disney’s still going to cry its way to the bank.

Something that has bothered me in recent months has been this talking point from those fan circles about how “The Mandalorian ‘reunited’ fandom.” It’s a ridiculous statement: there’s never been a point in time when the entirety of Star Wars fandom has agreed on anything, and using the fact that a ton of people really enjoy the series to justify one’s own shitty views is a bad faith argument. With this move, I’ll be watching to see what the reaction is from those quarters moving forward: will they actually follow through and not watch The Mandalorian/Book of Boba Fett/Ahsoka/Rangers of the New Republic out of spite, because they’re offended when a prominent shitposter gets smacked down and has to face some real consequences?

That all said, I’m really bummed that we’ve arrived at this situation — Carano’s firing is certainly justified and something that needed to have happened — actions have consequences after all — but Carano didn’t need to go out and spread misinformation, post some really toxic messages on social media, and play a game of chicken with her career. She could have easily avoided this, and it’s entirely on her.

But it’s unfortunate to lose the character. It’s frustrating because for much of its history, Star Wars has been bereft of female heroes, and it’s only been recently that we’ve seen our share of them on screen, like Jyn, Rey, Rose, Ahsoka, Hera, Bo-Katan, and Cara.

Cara was a fresh new character who had one of the more interesting story arcs in The Mandalorian: a frustrated, burned-out soldier who’s been through the meat-grinder that was the Galactic Civil War. From the sounds of it, we could have had an entire series based on where her character was headed. That fork in the road represents a loss to fans for what the character could have been now and down the road.

That’s now probably gone, because Carano decided to fuck around online. And now, she’s found out the consequences.