February 12, 2021 4:30 p.m.
Last Wednesday it became known that your entertainment company Disney had fired actress Gina Carano. The reason was her controversial statement in which she compared the current tense situation between Republicans and Democrats with the persecution of Jews during the Nazi era.
First of all: We are fully aware that this is a very sensitive topic. We distance ourselves clearly from the statements of the actress in every respect and ask for an objective and considerate approach in the discussion.
What is it actually about?
It was not the first time that Gina Carano had caused a stir with controversial statements and actions on social media. In 2020 she made fun of wearing MNS (mouth and nose protection) and publicly admitted to believing in the election fraud that Donald Trump conjured up without solid evidence. Even then, fans of the Mandalorian series demanded their removal. But Disney stayed true to its star actor.
With her last statement, she went too far for her employer and was excluded from the series. In postings on several social media channels, she equated the treatment of political right-wing thinkers in the U.S.A. with the persecution of Jews during the Nazi era. Disney added that she would not get a role in any Disney production in the future.
In fact wrong comparison
The fact is: Jews were harassed, persecuted, physically and psychologically abused and ultimately also massacred because of their family tree and their religious affiliation. Conversely, there is no evidence at all that right-wing people are being persecuted in the U.S.A. And certainly not to the extent and severity as was the case under the Nazi regime. What the former mixed-marshal-arts fighter Carano said is factually wrong and more than outrageous. On the one hand.
But in the US, their comparison can be seen as a political opinion. And freedom of expression applies there. And again for freedom of opinion one should not be persecuted. But how should you as an employer deal with employees, contractors or suppliers posting erroneous or absurd views on the internet?
When a private company becomes a judge
The fact that Disney has interfered with the actress’ freedom of expression speaks against the termination. If you have to expect to be fired for your opinion, then you think twice about expressing it at all. Disney as an employer is thus restricting its employees in an important human right. But that is not the only thing that speaks against the termination.
A risk for the series
Actor changes within a series are always associated with the risk that viewers will turn away from it. With the termination, Disney has certainly lost a large part of the Carano fans. Production alone cost $ 100 million. So we’re talking about a significant investment that is jeopardized by the termination. But money is not everything, especially in such a volatile case. Especially since Disney has not followed a clear line here.
Disney doesn’t seem to have a clear line
Your entertainment company was criticized in 2018 for a similar case. At that time, Pedro Pascal, Carano’s colleague on the show, compared the ICE (United States Immigration and Customs Inforcement, a police agency that acts against illegal immigration, among other things) with Nazi methods. Because Disney did not react at the time, your company is now being accused of double standards. All of these are at least arguments against the termination.
Attention: Image rubs off
Now let’s take a look at the other side: Even if it’s primarily a matter for the actress, what she does rubs off on Disney’s image. So Disney was challenged. And from a brand and image perspective, in fact, forced to take tough action. Especially since your Disney group was accused in the past of not delimiting itself clearly enough from anti-Semitic thinking.
Will the light side of power win in the end?
Companies are repeatedly caught in political crossfire. Sometimes like Disney now, unintentionally, but sometimes deliberately. Nike should be mentioned here as an example. Your shoe manufacturer deliberately advertised in 2018 on the occasion of 30 years of “Just do it” with Colin Kaepernick. As a reminder: That was the American football player in the position of the quarterback, who did not rise for the US national anthem, but kneeled down in protest. For Trump this came close to treason, for others Kaepernick was a figurehead against racism.
The ad campaign with such a controversial person was a risk for Nike. Initially, the company’s value also fell and customers filmed themselves burning their sneakers. In the end, however, the company’s value has increased by $ 26 billion since the campaign. So attitude can also pay off economically. But what about Disney in the Carano case?
The power of the poll
Disney’s resignation from Gina Carano shows how sensitive political, ethical or historical positions can be. There are arguments and factors to consider that (from whichever side) cannot be seen in black or white. We haven’t even touched many of them due to lack of space. We look forward to your vote and your comment all the more.