Not so long ago, being risqué or taboo meant something potentially dangerous or harmful to societal conventions. A movie or television show would challenge the traditional norms, explore a controversial issue, and take an unpopular side or push the acceptable boundaries with its explicitness. Whether authentic or gimmicky, this approach could always generate buzz and attract an audience.
Now, what qualifies as risqué or taboo seems to be some of the most innocuous or generic ideas. Movies that play off of popular stereotypes (offensive or not), feature Christian morality or conservative principles or include politically incorrect language may be canceled or censored. While anyone can access pornography and watch X-rated movies without any shame, watching “The Swiss Family Robinson” or some of the old Disney cartoons might make them social pariahs.
In either case, Hollywood should know this countercultural element increases a film’s appeal. If the goal of entertainment and high art is to provide an outlet for escape and see the world with a different lens, then these films that Hollywood tries to cancel truly succeed. They have the capacity to make controversial content that causes audiences to reflect, be mesmerized, be challenged—and most importantly, have fun. Some of the classics have lost their luster and became boring because they simply reiterated the old truths everyone knows. Now those old movies have some edge and become engaging again because they challenge the status quo.
So it goes with Gina Carano who called out the intolerant Left by comparing their propaganda efforts to those of Nazi Germany. And not only did she call them out, but she also did so with unusual insight and clarity. This is important for two reasons: First, it makes her remarks all the more “triggering” for people who are conditioned to think one way; second, she challenges the common stereotype that non-leftists are hateful troglodytes.
Because her argument is difficult to refute, it thus necessitates some kind of action—in other words, she needed to be canceled.
For conservatives and others who feel inclined to defend Carano on the basis of free speech alone, the argument that landed her in trouble deserves more attention. Yes, invoking Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is one of those things that polite people don’t do, but the analogy actually holds here. The government and allies in the media must first cultivate popular hatred of a certain group in order to justify oppressive measures against them. And, just as Nazis did this with the Jews, there is evidence of today’s Democrats doing this with Trump supporters whom they label as white supremacists and domestic terrorists.
Nearly half a century ago, William F. Buckley, Jr., made the same point in an essay on Pol Pot’s atrocities in Cambodia. Killing such a large portion of the population required the cooperation of millions of people. People tend to fixate on the dictator, but they should understand that the whole nation shares responsibility for genocide.
All that said, one might ask why anyone should really care about this story. People are canceled all the time. Most people know to keep quiet if they hope to keep their jobs and advance in their careers.
Those people aren’t celebrities, however, and therefore do not have the platform Carano does. Insofar as she is famous, she is a cultural icon: that is, she is a symbol of the culture and whatever happens to her happens to those who identify with her. Consequently, Disney’s decision to cancel her—or the Democrats’ decision to effectively cancel Donald Trump with impeachment—really amounts to canceling everyone like them.
It’s difficult to determine whether Disney knows that firing Carano for her belief that people should not be persecuted for their political beliefs only proves her point. By canceling wrongthink and incessantly pushing a message of intolerance of those who dispute Disney’s corporate thoughts, Disney is feeding into a culture of conformity and oppression.
True, American society hasn’t quite reached the point of neighbors killing neighbors, but when young people don’t believe in the merits of free speech, welcome government control of the economy, and are trained to shout down and assault people with differing opinions, it’s fair to assume that the worst is just around the corner.
It’s also tough to say whether Disney understands that firing Carano in this public manner is remarkably sexist. Not only is Carano modeling strong, independent womanhood in her willingness to think for herself and speak out against hateful behavior, but as a former MMA fighter, she could literally kick anyone’s butt. In the real world, one would be hard-pressed to find any other actress so empowered. Though in the movie world, one could find many such examples—not least in modern Disney films that feature plenty of strong heroines who kick butt and save the world.
As if on cue, Disney imitates so many villains, both in the real world and the movie world. At least in the movie world, the villains tend to have more personality. Characters like Thanos, Darth Vader, and Voldemort are far more compelling antagonists with understandable motives than the faceless blob that is Disney. The closest analogy would probably be the Borg from “Star Trek,” except Disney is more crass and less efficient.
While Carano suffers in the short term from losing a big role in a popular television series, she does gain in the long term. She will have much more name recognition and can now enjoy the freedom to speak her mind. It’ll be up to her and her supporters to capitalize on this opportunity. She should star in other productions and be the lead.
For my own part, I wasn’t a fan of “The Mandalorian”—I’m more a Trekkie myself, if my above reference to the Borg didn’t make that clear—but I’d be more than willing to watch any movie or show Carano will star in now. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.