Canceling Carano May End in Success | Opinion

The firing of Gina Carano from Star Wars drew out opinions among fans and critics alike. The former MMA athlete gained much attention from her controversial social media posts.

The former Mandalorian star posted anti-lockdown conspiracy theories, election fraud claims and a variety of right-wing talking points. Whether it was wise for Disney to fire Carano is a topic that others can debate.

On one hand, Disney's conduct is far from clean. Their decision to allow individual business acts to continue in China indicate that they are willing to put profit above human rights. But on the other hand, Carano's views are tinged with conspiracy and connected with active concerns about harm.

What Disney's decision has inadvertently done is provide fuel to a long-running ecosystem of false persecution and profit within the right-wing media empire. Within 24 hours of her firing, Ben Shapiro announced Carano would be partnering with his media outlet The Daily Wire to create a film.

In an interview with Deadline, Carano stated that, "The Daily Wire is helping make one of my dreams — to develop and produce my film — come true."

She goes on to note that by doing this, she hopes to "send a direct message of hope to everyone living in fear of cancellation by the totalitarian mob," and that "they can't cancel us if we don't let them."

In one sense, Carano is embracing a free-market approach. If Disney would not have her, then it is time to seek other employment.

Every one in a free society has a right to that. But in an alternate sense, Carano embraced a role that may end up being more visible than a former New Republic trooper. She's now a victim and advocate for conservative views in a world supposedly oriented toward "cancellation."

While the direction of Carano's career will take time to determine, she follows in the footsteps of several others who built a career off of being "canceled."

A memorable example in religious circles was that of David and Jason Benham.

The pair developed two very successful real estate firms in North Carolina. This success drew the attention of HGTV, who offered the duo a television show in 2014.

Right Wing Watch found evidence of David Benham's controversial comments. He protested mosques, blamed the Aurora mass shooting on the Democratic Party and passed out "wanted" posters featuring a notable Charlotte abortion doctor.

Mix that with the Benhams' father and his history of pro-life politics and it was enough for HGTV to cancel the show. The brothers stated, "We were saddened to hear HGTV's decision ... if our faith costs us a television show, then so be it."

If this were the end of the story, then there wouldn't be much to say. But in the days and years to come, the Benhams would make a multitude of appearances on religious outlets like the National Religious Broadcasters Association and the Family Research Council.

The brothers also starred in several religious films and wrote four books after their show cancellation.

Charlotte officers arrested David Benham in 2020 for attempting to protest outside an abortion clinic in Charlotte despite an active stay-at-home order. He later sued the city for violating his First Amendment rights.

Gina Carano
Gina Carano arrives for the Disney+ World Premiere of The Mandalorian at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood on November 13, 2019. NICK AGRO/AFP via Getty Images

Bret Weinstein is another person who comes to mind as someone who built a career off of being canceled. Weinstein was a professor of biology at Evergreen State College, where he taught until 2017.

When Evergreen hosted a "Day of Absence," the event asked white students to stay off-campus or attend a race-centered program while POC students could attend. Weinstein wrote in an email that this request for students to not attend campus events that day was "crippling to the logic of oppression."

Said comments eventually led the event to be voluntary. The growing resistance to the event grew to a violent altercation between Weinstein and several protestors.

Weinstein would later pursue a lawsuit against the campus, claiming campus police told him they would not protect him against the protesters. He later resigned alongside his wife.

The complicated politics and decision-making by the campus are certainly up for criticism. But rather than attempt to pursue a return to the science that defined Weinstein's work for more than a decade, the former professor began to embrace a more contrarian approach.

Weinstein is considered to be one of the men who started the "Intellectual Dark Web," a community of academics and personalities willing to challenge the status quo. Since its creation, Weinstein started his podcast, was a Princeton fellow, spoke before Congress on matters of free speech on college campuses and even attempted to create a political party.

What exists as commonalities between Carano, Weinstein and the Benhams is them turning their employment status as "out of line with modern discourse" into profit.

Whether it is media attention or offering an alternate voice to feed individual narratives about "cancel culture," both have made a career out of their cancellation. And they are hardly the only ones. Dozens of pundits and commentators have built a legacy upon the fact that their knowledge is in a sense "forbidden."

It allows them to attract an assortment of creators.

YouTubers like Steven Crowder and Arielle Scarcella have an audience built upon discussing topics they claim progressives or the left do not want to be shared. After all, the left has targeted or tried to "cancel" them. That is a badge of honor, in their eyes.

What's difficult to determine now is where this all leads Carano.

While Carano's film collaboration with The Daily Wire will take at least a year to complete, what comes after is difficult to predict. If financially successful, she could have a future in creating content for right-wing consumers who don't trust Hollywood.

She also could go down the path of Dean Cain and Stephen Baldwin, whose work tends to only appear in the religious or right-wing movie industry (such as God's Not Dead, or a play based on the exchanges of two FBI agents during the Mueller investigation).

Perhaps Carano's notability will dissipate with time. But in the meantime, Carano is now in an ideal place to act as a "silenced victim" of growing cancel culture, all while bringing in likes and dollars.

Chris Hutton is a freelance journalist from Indiana. He covers topics of religion, tech and politics, and is finishing his masters in sociology at Ball State University. His Twitter is @chris_journo.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.