Canceling Idiots Like Gina Carano Just Like The Blacklist Except For How It’s Not

History Facts

We've read a lot about "cancel culture" lately, especially after Disney parted ways with Gina Carano because she posted offensive content on social media, including an Instagram post where she compared the twice-impeached thug's supporters, which include Nazis, to Holocaust victims, who were very much not Nazis.

Jonathan Chait at New York magazine suggested that not employing Carano is like the Hollywood blacklist, because conservatives aren't the only ones who can make insulting comparisons. What's the principled difference, he wondered, between barring communists and barring conservatives?

Time for a Wonkette history lesson! The Hollywood blacklist began in 1946 and lasted more than a decade. Entertainment industry professionals — actors, screenwriters, directors, musicians — were denied employment if they were believed to be communist or communist sympathizers (i.e. had friends who were communists). Careers were destroyed, and studios demanded compulsory loyalty oaths from employees.


Walt Disney himself blamed the commies for a cartoonist and animators strike, but his employees just thought he was a lousy boss. (Nothing is more capitalistic than that.) Disney and conservative hero Ronald Reagan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild, and he baselessly claimed that a “small clique" within the union was using “communist-like tactics" to steer policy. He couldn't confirm if these unnamed members were actual communists. Reagan didn't believe the US government should outlaw the Communist party like a bunch of godless communists, but he encouraged marginalizing communists or anyone communist-adjacent.

Victims of the blacklist weren't targeted because they wrote communist tracts for their local newspaper or expressed their affection for Khrushchev during interviews at a Hollywood premiere. They were targeted based on suspicions. Meanwhile, no one needed to name names to discover that Carano held gross views. She broadcast them on social media. If Julie Andrews had publicly insulted Jews and speculated that President Lyndon Johnson had stolen the 1964 election from Barry Goldwater, she probably would've lost her The Sound Of Music gig.

Carano's problem is she couldn't stop airing her offensive views, despite how conservatives have long claimed celebrities should shut up and perform. “Free speech" conservatives have demanded the NFL fire athletes who peacefully protest before games. Right-wing country music fans boycotted the Dixie Chicks (now sans Dixie) because they opposed the Iraq War and insulted George W. Bush.

We support freedom of expression, but society has always drawn lines. In 1988, CBS fired sports commentator Jimmy “the Greek" Snyder (yeah, that was his name) just a few days after an incredibly racist interview he gave on Martin Luther King's birthday.

Some of the statements Snyder made in the interview with [WRC-TV-4's Ed Hotaling] included: "They've {blacks} got everything; if they take over coaching like everybody wants them to, there's not going to be anything left for white people."

Snyder described blacks as being superior athletes because generally, he said, they work harder than white athletes.

Then he added, "the black is a better athlete to begin with, because he's been bred that way. Because of his high thighs that go up into his back. And they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs.

"This all goes back to the Civil War, when, during the slave trading, the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he would have a big black kid. That's where it all started."

This garbage might as well be an Andrew Sullivan column now, but 30 years ago, saying this crap out loud would land you on the unemployment line. It was not deemed critical to a free exchange of ideas.

Snyder immediately apologized, but it didn't matter. He was toast or, dare we say, “canceled." Few mainstream Republicans rushed to his defense because they at least attempted to maintain a veneer of respectability. During the 1980s, less than 40 percent of white Americans supported interracial relationships, but you weren't going to see staunch Republican Jimmy Stewart denounce "race mixing" on Johnny Carson. And by the way, Gina Carano isn't even a major name. We'd venture to guess many people's first reactions to headlines about "Gina Carano canceled" was "Gina who canceled what now?"

MSNBC host Chris Hayes argued on Twitter that Carano's views are not that far outside the GOP mainstream, so I guess canceling her is like canceling someone with an extreme position on marginal tax rates. This is a no-win situation: We can't consider all Republicans deplorable because Rep. Adam Kinzinger seems like a decent guy, but if we single out specific bigoted creeps, we're instituting a new “blacklist" on conservatives in general. It's getting hard to keep up.

[New York Magazine]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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