Gina Carano, an actress and mixed martial artist (MMA), was recently fired from The Mandalorian after an antisemitic post on Instagram. While right-wing media decried this as an example of “cancel culture,” there’s much more to the story — including her history of transphobic posts, anti-mask views, and penchant for conspiracy theories.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Who is Gina Carano?
Carano is a 38-year-old American actress and mixed martial artist (MMA) fighter. Her career began in Muay Thai and then ended up in professional MMA, which she fought in until 2011. In 2011, she starred in Stephen Soderbergh’s spy film Haywire with Michael Fassbender, then went on to appear in more action movies — Fast & Furious 6 (2013), In The Blood (2014), Deadpool (2016), and Madness In the Method (2019).
In 2019, she was cast on the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, a live-action series in the Star Wars universe. She played Cara Dune, “a former Rebel shock trooper-turned-mercenary,” and appeared in seven episodes across the first two seasons.
What did she post on Instagram?
Carano posted a message to her Instagram story that compared being a conservative today to being a Jew during the Holocaust.
The post, which was a reshare of a post from “warriorpriestgympodcast,” said: “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors … even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
The post included a music sticker that played “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” by Dead Kennedys, a 1981 punk song.
To be clear: Being a conservative in 2021 America is not the same as being a Jew during the Holocaust. Conservatives are not being rounded up and murdered. There is no genocide plan to kill as many conservatives as possible. To suggest such a thing is preposterous, and yes, antisemitic.
So, she was fired for that?
Yes and no; it was reportedly in the works before she shared that particular image. That post was, in a sense, the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, last November and December, Carano’s agents were trying to negotiate a sizable pay bump for the actress. She was supposed to be part of a Disney investor day presentation on December 10, 2020 presenting a slate of new Star Wars shows. But, she was not present, because “in the lead-up to the event, Carano had become a lightning rod among Star Wars fans and a headache for Lucasfilm, after a series of tweets in which she mocked mask-wearing, suggested voter fraud occurred during the 2020 election and shared posts that some viewed as transphobic. ‘She was originally in that presentation when they announced all those things, and they pulled her off of it,’ a source [said].”
To be clear, her posts were explicitly transphobic, like this one mocking pronouns:
They’re mad cuz I won’t put pronouns in my bio to show my support for trans lives.
After months of harassing me in every way. I decided to put 3 VERY controversial words in my bio.. beep/bop/boop
I’m not against trans lives at all. They need to find less abusive representation.
— Gina Carano 🕯 (@ginacarano) September 13, 2020
After that report came out, they added an update: “A Lucasfilm source saying that the Cara Dune role on The Mandalorian is not expected to be recast and that she was not part of the Dec. 10 presentation, nor was she engaged in negotiations for future work.”
Similarly, a Lucasfilm spokesperson said in a statement, “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
What were her other controversies?
As Vulture pointed out, “In the past few months, Carano has used her social-media platform to mock COVID mask mandates, spread conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of the election, and like posts disparaging Black Lives Matter and pronoun usage.”
This, for example, is a straight-up conspiracy theory about the 2020 election:
We need to clean up the election process so we are not left feeling the way we do today.
Put laws in place that protect us against voter fraud.
Investigate every state.
Film the counting.
Flush out the fake votes.
Make Voter Fraud end in 2020.
Fix the system. 🇺🇸
— Gina Carano 🕯 (@ginacarano) November 5, 2020
Notably, she also shared this antisemitic image in December:
— Gina Carano 🕯 (@ginacarano) December 23, 2020
It’s shockingly still up, but in case it gets deleted, here’s a screenshot:
Why is this image antisemitic?
Oof, okay, let’s get into it. The image/meme is based on a mural from London:
In 2012, Kalen Ockerman, an American graffiti artist, painted a mural in Brick Lane, London’s East End. Brick Lane — previously home to a large Jewish population — is now a “hipster” area with lots of street art.
Ockerman’s mural “Freedom for Humanity” is widely considered antisemitic. It shows six elderly white men with stereotypical Jewish features playing Monopoly on the backs of Black men. On the left, a man holds a sign saying, “The New World Order Is the Enemy of Humanity.” As The Guardian explains:
First, make sure to actually look at the mural. Don’t take a fleeting glance as you prepare to tweet your outrage, but pause for a moment and take it all in. Sitting around a table is a group of rotund men: one has a full beard, and is counting money. That, in and of itself, is an antisemitic symbol.
It’s not just the big, hookednoses and evil expressions that make this iconography offensive and troubling, these depictions mirror antisemitic propaganda used by Hitler and the Nazis to whip up hatred that led to the massacre of millions of Jews. This extends to the table these figures are sat at, resting on human bodies, as the Nazis also depicted.
Context here is also important. If you haven’t yet, then research The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. An entirely fabricated text printed first in Russia during the early 1900s, it purports to document a meeting of Jewish leaders setting out plans to take over the world by controlling the media and press, and fostering religious conflict to subjugate non-Jews across the globe.
During the 1920s and 1930s the Protocols were a key element of the Nazi propaganda programme – at least 23 editions were published by the party in the two decades that preceded the outbreak of the second world war in 1939. The domination of the world by hooknosed men wielding power and money? There is more than a visual connection in this mural to antisemitism – the messaging is full-blown Nazi too.
Even the freakin’ artist admitted his antisemitic intent, albeit inadvertently: “Some of the older white Jewish folk in the local community had an issue with me portraying their beloved #Rothschild or #Warburg etc as the demons they are,” he wrote. (The Rothschilds, a British banking family, are at the heart of numerous antisemitic conspiracies.) This mural caused a whole controversy with British politician Jeremy Corbyn back in 2018.
But let’s go back to Gina’s image:
It’s based on the mural, clearly, even though the noses have been altered to be smaller. The text — “All we have to do and stand up and their little game is over” — is referring to an antisemitic conspiracy that Jews control the world.
Not great, Gina! Even though she deleted her original conservatives-are-Jews-in-the-Holocaust post, this is still live.
Okay, she was fired from The Mandalorian. What happened next?
Jewish conservatives, notably Ben Shapiro, got involved. After Carano was fired, she said she would be making a movie with Shapiro’s website The Daily Wire.
In a statement, Carano said, “The Daily Wire is helping make one of my dreams — to develop and produce my own film — come true. I cried out and my prayer was answered. I am sending out a direct message of hope to everyone living in fear of cancellation by the totalitarian mob. I have only just begun using my voice which is now freer than ever before, and I hope it inspires others to do the same. They can’t cancel us if we don’t let them.”
One: Gina Carano, you weren’t canceled. Two, there is no totalitarian mob. Three, you just got fired from a TV show on Disney+.
“We could not be more excited to be working with Gina Carano, an incredible talent dumped by Disney and Lucasfilm for offending the authoritarian Hollywood Left. This is what Daily Wire exists to do: provide an alternative not just for consumers, but for creators who refuse to bow to the mob,” Ben Shapiro said.
Okay?! Moving on….
Another notable Jewish conservative, Bari Weiss, weighed in, saying Carano’s deal with Shapiro was “absolutely awesome.”
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) February 12, 2021
Weiss then published an interview with Gina, which she touted with, “Cancel culture relies on erasing intent. But intent matters. It doesn’t just matter: our culture and justice system hinges on it. So: Did Gina Carano intend to share an antisemitic image? I asked her.”
“I was in utter shock and confusion when certain people said it was antisemitic. Then, as I went to take it down, I noticed that the image was not the same as the one people were referencing. I was honestly confused: should I take it down, or leave it up? I still don’t know the answer to that question, because taking it down only makes the mob attack you more,” Carano told Weiss.
“Gina isn’t antisemitic. Period. This meme is being ‘resurfaced’ as a post-facto justification for an unjustifiable cancellation,” Shapiro told Weiss. “Gina wasn’t aware of the origins of the original picture, and was devastated to hear about it, just as she has been devastated by the absurd and bad faith contention that she is antisemitic in any way.”
Spoiler: She hasn’t taken it down, so she’s clearly not too devastated.
Many were quick to point out the double standards of Weiss and Shapiro:
Just so we are all clear: the reason that Bari Weiss gives Gina Carano the benefit of the doubt while having never extended that to @lsarsour @IlhanMN @marclamonthill and so many others comes down to anti-Black racism, anti-Palestinian racism, and Islamophobia.
— Sophie Ellman-Golan (@EgSophie) February 15, 2021
Bari Weiss defending Gina Carano for sharing a meme almost identical to the one that fueled "Muralgate" and the condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK is a more perfect illustration of the hypocrisy and stupidity of this entire discourse than I ever could've imagined.
— Joshua Leifer (@joshualeifer) February 15, 2021
Weiss herself wrote about Corbyn and the mural in 2018, saying Jeremy Corbyn is an example of “fashionable anti-Semitism of the far left that masquerades as anti-Zionism and anti-racism.” Why? “He objected to the destruction of a street mural depicting despotic hooknosed Jewish bankers.”
So, yes, she has called the mural antisemitic. But not when Gina Carano shared a slightly altered version.
As Noah Berlatsky wrote in Haaretz, “In practice, once you start defending someone’s speech, you tend to try to find some way to agree with it, even if that means carefully ignoring, eliding or erasing the bits that might make you uncomfortable if you paid attention to them. That’s how Shapiro and Weiss end up effectively cosigning statements that they would condemn as antisemitic (or even have actually condemned as antisemitic) in other contexts.”
We wish we didn’t know who Gina Carano is, but here we are.