Is Disney Justified in Firing Gina Carano from the Mandalorian? A New Perspective

Spoilers

In the movie Dream Scenario, starring Nicholas Cage, a biology professor named Paul Matthews starts appearing in the nightmares of random people all over the country.

None of these people understand why, nor do they know anything about Paul beyond recognizing his unusual face — which gives them flashbacks of the terrible dream.

Paul himself is perplexed because he has not intentionally done anything to these people, nor is he a Freddy Krueger-type monster who controls a higher plane of existence.

But when Paul becomes infamous for his cameo appearances in peoples’ dreams, he begins to see scorn, fear, hatred, and eventually violence coming from people who hold him personally responsible for their nightmares.

As I finished Dream Scenario, I realized this is what some right-leaning celebrities must feel like.

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They feel they have inadvertently “gone viral” and incited all sorts of abuse from total strangers for no apparent reason.

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However, what they perceive as a collective effervescence and an out-of-control internet mob reflects a radically changing culture where everything is shared, and everyone gets to speak their opinion.

And these celebrities were born in a generation without such a thing.

Carano Attends Mandalorian Premiere

Consider the latest controversy with Gina Carano, costar of The Mandalorian, who claims Disney fired her after the internet canceled her for sharing some of her right-learning opinions.

After expressing controversial views about the COVID-19 vaccine and pronouns, Carano was confronted by irate internet readers and later released from The Mandalorian.

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In an interview with Entertainment Weekly (March 14, 2024), Carano claims that Disney not only fired her but also called her statements “abhorrent and unacceptable,” a moral judgment that Carano said made her “just lay down and cry and cry.”

In addition to claiming Disney wrongfully terminated her, she also implies that the “most powerful company in the world” shamed her and all but destroyed her career.”

Pedro Pascal and Gina Carano at Mandalorian Premiere

According to fans of Carano (including Elon Musk, who is funding her lawsuit), she is the victim of a cultural Right vs Left war, and Disney is the fascist company barring its celebrities from sharing any non-liberal, against-the-grain opinions.

On the other hand, critics of Carano say, as do Disney executives, that Disney can hire or release any talent because of First Amendment rights.

It didn’t help that Carano also made more controversial statements, comparing Disney’s bullying behavior to holocaust persecution.

Celebrity Opinions — A Highly Overrated Phenomenon?

The proverbial Paul Matthews now finds himself in an alternate reality — one where words on the internet, and indeed the opinions of total strangers, are more important than box office take.

Gina Carano Terror on the Prairie Screening

Unpopular opinions are just as sinful as keeping a Casting Couch, and thought crimes, while not illegal, are still grounds for losing your livelihood.

Of course, many celebrities, right and left, don’t seem to understand how drastically the social landscape has changed over the last 25 years. They may know that Gen Z and Gen Y have very particular values, at odds with Boomers at times.

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But they don’t quite get how celebrities are no longer perceived as winning-in-life thespians but as wealthy social servants as entertainers of the people, lucky to be employed, and dare I say, as non-playable character actors.

It could be that most Gen X and Boomer-age celebrities grew up in an age where no one could publicly share thoughts, especially on a forum that brought audiences, critics, and artists together in a virtual town hall meeting.

Taking Aim - The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3

Opinions Are First Impressions

Now, when someone shares an opinion on the internet, it’s no longer the echo chamber of encapsulated free thought that it was in the early 2000s. In 2024, when someone posts an idea, it’s hashtag-optimized. It comes up in searches.

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More importantly, your thoughts immediately put you somewhere in the Right vs. Left Alignment Chart because sharing your thoughts immediately polarizes your would-be audience, who have already established loyalties, hierarchies, and value systems.

You are no longer just an internet user but a Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic Liberal fighting the Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic Conservative. And by golly, as a certain Sith one spoke, “If you’re not with me, then you are my enemy.”

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Just because you may find Dungeons and Dragons tabletop games absurd doesn’t absolve you from playing the game and rolling the dice when minding your own internet etiquette.

If you’re lucky, you may get called a Discord Mod. If you’re unlucky, you might become a meme. If you’re entirely reckless, prepare to get doxxed.

You are now stuck in a stranger-than-fiction reality that wants to know who you stand for, who you stand against, and if they can count on you to join their fight.

You Are Now Living in a Disney Theme Park

The zeitgeist that “we” have created is not at all by accident or even evolutionary. It is as intentional as a multi-decade marketing campaign designed by a company that understands the simple point: controlling the culture keeps you in power.

Walt Disney Wanted to Bring Disney Movies to Life

When Walt Disney envisioned his first theme park, he wanted to bring animated characters to life. But he didn’t want people to dress up in costumes. He created the unique culture of Disney theme parks by insisting that everyone stay in character.

It was method-acting; it was kayfabe for adults. Always staying in character meant transporting the audience, especially children, to a fantasy world in real life.

Walt had many strict, some say, eccentric rules for being employed as a Disney character performer. Perhaps understandably, because being a marketing guy, Walt understood rule number one for being an entertainer.

This is about them, the audience, not about you.

What I’ve noticed about the second and third generation of Disney wizards (including but not limited to Bob Iger and Kathleen Kennedy) is that they have expanded their theme park territory voraciously and subversively.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 6: The Tragedy photo 6

It goes well beyond the parameters of Disneyworld or Disneyland and infiltrates the public consciousness.

They have transformed a once open and unregulated internet into a Disney Small World After All public grounds, a forum not necessarily owned by Disney but fiercely guarded by Disney fans and people raised on post-modern Disney values.

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To surf Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest is to explore a colonized social atmosphere that Disney has claimed, not with money but with its potent cultural influence. To speak as softly as a princess but to conquer as a Targaryen.

Now, we live in a world where Disney Land is everywhere, and we are all just visitors here to the culture Walt’s company helped create and the social manners he envisioned for visitors partaking in his grand generosity.

Disneyworld Castle

Disney Culture is an Amazingly Powerful Force

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with supporting Disney’s morals, that being an equal opportunity and universal respect for all beings, one has to wonder what debt has been incurred for Disney’s Good Shepherding of its legions of fans.

To suggest that we are all being held captive by Disney and other studios that police celebrity opinions is a bit dramatic.

Celebrities didn’t use to be role models because their private lives were mysterious and mostly unknown to everyone except studio bosses and other celebrities who knew how to keep secrets.

Today’s celebrities are role models and have endorsement deals to worry about.

Gina Carano Says Goodbye to The Mandalorian

They directly answer to fans who idolize them and champion them as moral paragons who mirror their hopes, dreams, and ideals. More to the point, if they slip up now, the internet will know about it in minutes.

Should celebrities no longer be role models? In this age of transparent, life-branded reality stars who blend their heroic personal lives and feel-good art with no distinction?

How naive — no, how downright beastly of you, Gaston!

We Are All In-Character

Our insistence that everyone gets to be a social media celebrity and that we are all responsible for making this a better world retired the satire and made having contrary opinions a thing of the past.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 6: The Tragedy photo 5

In that respect, Disney is in the right for upholding its values and requiring all employees to live up to the company’s notoriously righteous and sometimes uppity standards.

If you want to blame the cultural shift on a dream scenario, a Twilight Zone hyperreality gone awry, go right ahead. It makes for exciting cyber-drama if nothing else.

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But when you work for Disney, Marvel, or LucasFilm, you’re one part entertainer, one part PR person, and no part improvisational actor. Actors don’t get paid a Disney salary.

You are just another Disney prop; everyone here in Disney land is united in a cause, doing it all for the children. Disney follows the money, so who can argue that younger demographics and their parents are good tippers?

Relax, you’re selling your soul to a friendly mouse; nothing more heinous than that.

Remember, you’re always “in character,” Disney’s ever-growing theme park shall continue to expand, reminding the world that despite complex storylines and three-dimensional shades of grey, good stories are still built on heroes and villains.

Michael Arangua is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow him on X.

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