As someone who runs a movie site that depends on advertising from movie studios, including Disney, I take a bit of a risk posting this. It isn’t much of a risk. Saying nothing is even more of a risk because I know that the only way this ends is if enough people speak up and speak out about it. I don’t matter enough to make a difference but the sick feeling it gives me in the pit of my stomach requires that I register my protest.
The way it works is that a person has to have something to lose - like a platform or a career. That career has to depend on a corporate overlord whose image matters to them, but specifically how Gen-Z thinks about them. Gen-Z has been conditioned to believe that they just have to say jump and corporations will say how high. But it is the wrong lesson to be teaching them, and it’s the wrong stance to take from a moral standpoint.
First off, for four years all we’ve heard is Holocaust comparisons, from AOC calling the migrant detention centers “concentration camps” to calling Trump a fascist, to calling Trump Hitler to suggesting Melania was wearing Nazi gear to accusing Mary Hart of using the White Supremacist symbol or Laura Ingraham using the Hitler salute, to Bill Maher saying the Patriot Party was like the “Brown Shirts.” It’s used so often that, by now, we’ve become numb to it. Why, then, would they suddenly be offended when Carano posted a meme on her Instagram that warned of dehumanization and where it can lead? Because it is about power and control. Power to ruin lives and control over whose message is allowed and whose isn’t.
First, Carano was in hot water for making fun of not putting pronouns in her bio. I don’t put pronouns in my bio - not because I care particularly one way or the other but because I resist mandates to brand my ideology anywhere. I don’t brand my twitter or any other place I have my identity on social media to declare my tribal allegiance. No one should demand this from anyone and no one should comply. She made fun of it, though, and that got her in trouble in the first time, as you’d imagine. If one person is offended, that is all it takes for a guilty verdict to be rendered. Because one person offended turns into ten people and then 100 people and before long it trends on twitter. The corporate overlords panic and they push the button to rid themselves of the unclean thing. Purity at last!
Dehumanization is never right. It is always wrong. For the last four years I watched Trump and his family and all of his supporters be dehumanized by the Left. It never sat well with me. It felt wrong. Internally, morally wrong. It still does. I didn’t know a single person other than my daughter who understood what I was talking about. They were so caught up in frothing unmanageable hatred.
Dehumanization comes from fear and mass panic. Chinese Americans were dehumanized during World War II, black Americans during slavery and the Jim Crow era. Irish and Italian immigrants at the turn of the last century. And yes, as late as the Muslim and Mexican immigrants by Trump in 2016. Irrational fear is better managed by hatred because then you feel more in control. Humans are at their worst when they dehumanize whole groups of people.
After all, what is the definition of homophobia and transphobia? Fear, hatred and dehumanization. But the hive mind on Twitter is feeling its oats and they get to arbitrarily decide what constitutes a phobia or a phobe or an “ist.” It requires no proof, just the accusation made. Once accused, anyone who cares about their reputation will immediately begin the process of breaking down emotionally — this will lead, usually, to a groveling, pointless apology that does nothing but validate their accusers and kick the can down the road until the next victim is tossed into the bonfire.
Here is what she posted:
“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”
Where is the lie? We are well beyond the point where the government has made us hate our neighbors for being Trump supporters. We did it ourselves. Four years ago. I was shunned just for humanizing them, just for sticking up for them, just for being friends with them. We created a situation very much like any mass hysteria/dehumanization situation - the most extreme of which being Nazi Germany. It is not an unusual behavior pattern in humans. In fact, it is all too common. How do you think you get to genocide, or expulsion of whole groups of people? Why do you think religious wars are fought for centuries? It is always wrong and it must always be fought with everything you have.
Carano was pointing out that incidents of dehumanization start with irrational hatred. Then they move to actions taken against people with benefit of the doubt, no due process. Comparing what is happening to anyone under cancel culture with the Holocaust is not exactly accurate, and is overdramatic. She deleted the post. But that wasn’t good enough. She’d exposed herself as an unclean thing and so then she had to be purged to keep the village pure and righteous.
While we’ve been living with this odd sort of calling out and cancelling people for a while now, it didn’t reach the extremes we’re seeing now until Trump won in 2016. His presence, which was a major threat to everything we’d built under Obama, everything we valued I culture, sent us into what can only be described as waves of mass hysteria or panic. Suddenly, everyone was a racist or a rapist or a transphobe or a homophobe. Once accused forever guilty.
The problem is that the press has been sucked into the machine and either is this cowardly and manipulative or they pretend to be for ratings, clicks and engagement.
Here is how CNN covered the story:
The posts invoked Nazi Germany and made fun of masks
One of Carano's posts, which she appeared to repost from another account, referenced the Holocaust, during which an estimated six million Jewish people were murdered, and how the conditions then were similar to contemporary political divides.
"How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?" part of the post read, according to Variety.
She later deleted that story and another that appeared to poke fun at mask-wearing with an image of a person whose entire head was covered with masks, captioned "Meanwhile in California."
Note how they make it much worse than it actually was, probably because they felt ridiculous posting about it at all. We accept lies by omission all of the time now because the truth has been deemed “harmful” - protecting people from it is the objective.
Firing her was wrong. It set a bad example for all of Hollywood, but worse, it set a standard going forward that Twitter will continue to demand others keep. Who will be among the first to bravely take a stand?
Here is Jonathan Chait - among the few actual journalists to write about it (while others cower in fear):
What’s most striking about the news coverage of Carano’s defenestration is the utter absence of any scrutiny of her employer or her (now-former) agency. The tone of the reporting simply conveys her posts as though they were a series of petty crimes, the punishment of which is inevitable and self-evidently justified. The principle that an actor ought to be fired for expressing unsound political views has simply faded into the background.
It is not easy pushing back on any of this. But those of us who are old enough to know better are the ones tasked with teaching the younger generations why this is the wrong path for both the country and the film industry to take.