As Gina Carano and Fans Clash, Hero Worship Turns to Scorn

content-header__row content-header__hed” data-testid=”ContentHeaderHed”>As Gina Carano and Star Wars Fans Clash, Hero Worship Turns to ScornCarano’s social media posts have stoked conflict between the Mandalorian actor and some who once saw her as a champion of inclusion.

November 19, 2020

Courtesy of Lucasfilm

When lifelong Star Wars fan and cosplayer Jay Justice first saw MMA fighter Gina Carano in The Mandalorian as the well-muscled, tough-as-nails mercenary Cara Dune, she knew exactly what she had to do. After crafting a replica of Dune’s armor, Justice proudly posted a photo of herself wearing the outfit on social media.

That came with certain risks. “When you’re a Black woman who cosplays, and you cosplay a character that doesn’t look like you, there’s a lot of pushback in the fandom from racist people, from bigots and stuff,” Justice, whose Twitter bio identifies her as a “queer disabled Black superhero,” told Vanity Fair.

But Justice found a defender in Carano herself. “Wow.. well done! Looks good on you!!” the actor tweeted, followed by a series of cheerful emojis. That naturally made Justice adore her more. “To have the person say, ‘Hey, nice job. I see what you’re doing there. I want to support you, I want to promote you, and make sure you feel like you’re included in the space that’s been antifeminist for a long time’—it is something that you can’t even quantify,” Justice said. “It is just a priceless validation of your existence as a fan in the space.”

https://twitter.com/thatjayjustice/status/1203348866835386369

Justice wasn’t alone in finding a hero in Cara Dune. “I liked her right away,” Star Wars fan and chair of Transgender Education Advocates of Utah Rebecca Green wrote to Vanity Fair over email. “I actually told my fiancé I might try and cosplay her, since I’m tall and broad in the shoulder.”

Months later, Justice, Green, and countless admirers are now struggling to balance their affection for Carano’s character with their frustration over Carano’s social media posts.

Two months ago, Carano made dismissive remarks about trans pronouns. She’s also shared unproven theories about both the presidential election results and COVID-19 mask mandates. The hashtag #FireGinaCarano began trending Saturday, after Carano announced that she was setting up an account on Parler, a social media platform that has recently become a hit with Donald Trump faithful

Funded in part by right-wing investor Rebekah Mercer, Parler is populated by inflammatory figures like Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, activist Laura Loomer, right-wing personality Katie Hopkins, Fox host Sean Hannity, Congressman Devin Nunes, Senator Ted Cruz, and, most recently, members of the Trump family themselves. The site has been hailed by some as a haven for conservative views, but has been denounced for allowing bigoted rhetoric. 

After her announcement, right-leaning fans filled Carano’s thread with supportive comments—sometimes accompanied by their own Parler account names.

Other Star Wars actors, such as Mark Hamill, John Boyega, and even Carano’s Mandalorian costars Pedro Pascal and Carl Weathers have been outspoken about their liberal beliefs, setting a precedent for Carano to express her own personal views. In the process, though, some who previously saw Carano not only as an ally but as a champion now feel alienated by her.

“I have talked to lots of other fans about this, people who didn’t finish their costumes now and don’t have the heart to do it. I personally am really glad that I finished mine,” Justice said. “I want everyone who loves Cara Dune to feel as welcome as I did when she first came out…. I don’t think it’s fair for us to not be able to enjoy something because one or two people decided that they were going to be disrespectful to the fans that made them who they are.”

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