Ever heard of this thing called “At-Will Employment?” It means that, with very few exceptions, an employer can effectively fire an employee for any reason at all. It is currently the norm in all but one state. And for a long time – pretty much ever since organized labor movements were obliterated as a political coalition in the 1980’s – this was a status quo that we all just accepted as part and parcel in an ostensibly “free market society.”
So with that as our baseline, you’d think it would be a no-brainer for a company notoriously obsessed with maintaining a wholesome, family-friendly image to cut loose one of their actors – a public figure whose words and actions will be reported on by major news outlets and be noticed by general consumers – after publishing a series of blatantly anti-Semitic memes and inflammatory paranoid warnings about leftists persecuting conservatives just a few weeks after similar rhetoric whipped up a violent mob to attempt to overthrow the government in the midst of certifying an election. Right? You’d think that would be commonly understood to not only be something that any company would be allowed to do, but something that a halfway self-aware actor with even a modicum of mainstream fame would hire a publicist specifically to help them avoid.
But because we live in the dumbest timeline, I have seen an avalanche of melodramatic pearl-clutching hot takes from whiny beltway pundits and culture writers warning that former-MMA-fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano’s “firing” from the Star Wars fan-service streaming universe was George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four come to life. I’m not going to name names or link to any of their pieces because I refuse to give them the clicks they’re fishing for and are easily Googleable to anyone who wants to experience the sensation of their brain melting out of their ears.
But let’s be clear about something: Gina Carano is not a victim of “cancel culture.” What happened to her is not egregious or unprecedented. In the past, celebrities had to sign “morals clauses” in the contracts they entered into with other companies enabling them to be fired for engaging in personal behavior that risked bad PR but otherwise didn’t actually impact their work: swearing or getting drunk in public, marital infidelity, or simply being rude to the press even one time were all fireable offenses for entertainers not that long ago.
A public figure of even modest renown losing their job for offending a large portion of the public has been a thing since the birth of capitalism. It’s not something the Woke Left forced on poor, helpless CEOs. Where were these hand-wringers and free speech absolutists when Tommy Lee Jones blackballed Linda Fiorentino for being “difficult” on the set of Men in Black? Where were all the thinkpieces decrying predatory men like Harvey Weinstein ending the careers of women like Mira Sorvino for refusing his sexual advances as “cancel culture run amok?” Michael Bay forced Megan Fox to wash his car in short-shorts before he offered her the lead role in Transformers; he still has a successful career and hers took a nosedive shortly after talking about his abusive on-set behavior. Spare me the sob stories about Carano’s burned bridges, here.
It’s not even all that clear Carano was even officially “fired” in the first place (though she was proactively dropped by her talent agency UTA; again, well within their rights), and most likely wasn’t in an official capacity. The carefully-worded statement from Lucasfilm reads, “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future.” None of the “let go” or “we’ve decided to part ways” phrases that show up in these kinds of statements appear at all in Lucasfilm’s official response.
It’s pretty obvious, reading between the lines, that her contract was already up and they were not planning on renewing it even if she hadn’t compared Republicans to Jews during the Holocaust. Why do I think this? Well, on top of being a piss-poor screen performer playing a minor character who appeared in fewer than half of the episodes in the show’s two seasons, she was highly likely a nightmare of a castmate to act alongside. Or at least, I’m fairly certain she was for The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal who, oh wait that’s right, has a transgender sister. Did I mention Carano is also a shameless TERF who has put out all sorts of despicable anti-trans nonsense on her social media pages? Because she totally has. Repeatedly. And perhaps constantly spreading harmful stereotypes about the “bullying mentality” of the “trans agenda” created a hostile work environment for her co-star? Maybe? If, hypothetically, one of the writers here at Awards Radar was bashing homosexuals on their social media pages and another writer here had a gay brother or sister and felt increasingly miserable and harassed having to work with someone constantly dehumanizing a member of their own family like that… whose needs do you think Editor Joey Magidson would prioritize to resolve that situation?
It is entirely conceivable that Disney was willing to quietly and amicably end their relationship with her on a decent note in order to keep her career from being sullied if she had just shut up and not published a steady stream of every deranged thought that poured into her head like an angry Boomer hopped up on A.M. talk radio for the last twenty years, forcing the company to do PR damage control by putting out a statement explicitly disowning her. Oh, by the way, Gina Carano has already parlayed her false persecution narrative into new cynical opportunities, signing on to star in the next movie produced by far-right grifter network The Daily Wire. This was announced so quickly after her “firing,” it’s almost certain she knew ahead of time that she wasn’t going to have a future with Lucasfilm (because again, she’s a terrible actress with a documented history of bigotry against relatives of her own co-workers) and had this little career turn in the works with failed-entertainer-turned-smug-pundit Ben Shapiro for a while, now.
You remember Ben Shapiro, right? That guy who was so lacking in creative talent that he couldn’t break into Hollywood as a screenwriter despite both of his parents being well-connected in the entertainment industry, and then blamed his failure as an example of “liberals persecuting conservatives?” Who wrote a novel about a short dweeb who grows up to be a tall, deep-voiced, manly soldier who saves America by convincing the Governor of Texas to invade Mexico after Iran nukes the United States because President Not-Obama was too weak to declare war on them? Yeah, he was able to get his fossil fuel billionaire sugar daddies to turn his dishonest propaganda outlet into a movie studio. The first feature they released was, no kidding, a Die Hard-style action movie about a teenage girl who single-handedly kills a gang of school shooters after they take her classmates hostage.
That’s where she’s headed, after being fired-but-not-really from a cushy gig at Disney for publishing hateful, bigoted social media posts that would have ended her career as an assistant manager at a department store. None of this ever had anything to do with process or fair employment; it’s just bog-standard resentment against progressive social values gaining more of a foothold in America, molded into a grift by and for reactionary failsons.
Let’s not fall for it this time.