Social media is awash with stupidity, cruelty and wrongheaded political opinions passed off as deep thoughts and intellectual acuity.
Three years ago, the actor Gina Carano, of “The Mandalorian” fame, became an exemplar of the trend when she reposted a particularly inane meme on her Instagram story page.
It featured a famous, sickening image of a terrified half-naked Jewish woman running from a pursuing mob, including a child menacingly brandishing a stick. The photograph was taken in 1941, during the Lviv pogroms in Ukraine.
“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors … even by children,” said the post. “How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
Carano has said that the message behind the meme was simple: “Do not demonize your neighbor.” In her own naive way, I actually think she believes it.
But if I need to explain to you the difference between deadly antisemitic purges and getting into a fight on Facebook with someone whose politics you despise, you probably should not be posting this stuff in the first place. And you deserve the criticism that follows.
But do you deserve to lose your livelihood?
The social media mob decided that Carano was unfit to be employed and digitally descended on Lucasfilm, and its corporate parent, Walt Disney Co., demanding it #FireGinaCarano. The entertainment giant did just that.
“Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” Lucasfilm said in a statement on Feb. 10, 2021. “Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
That’s really not what she did, but that did not stop Disney from canceling a “Star Wars” spinoff series, “Rangers of the New Republic,” that she was to star in. Nor did it stop UTA, her talent agency, from dropping her. Nor did it stop Hasbro from scratching the line of action figures that was based on her “Mandalorian” character, Cara Dune.
“I was distraught,” Carano told Glenn Beck last week. She said she briefly lost most of her hearing, as well.
And then, she said, she got an email from a lawyer who works for Elon Musk, the impulsive billionaire who owns X.
Last year, Musk offered to fund lawsuits for anyone who believes they have been subject to employment discrimination because of their posts.
Carano, with Musk’s backing, filed her employment- and sex-discrimination lawsuit last week.
“After two highly acclaimed seasons on The Mandalorian as Rebel ranger Cara Dune, Carano was terminated from her role as swiftly as her character’s peaceful home planet of Alderaan had been destroyed by the Death Star in an earlier Star Wars film,” the lawsuit alleges. “And all this because she dared voice her own opinions, on social media platforms and elsewhere, and stood up to the online bully mob who demanded her compliance with their extreme progressive ideology.” (Kudos, by the way, to the attorneys who drafted the brief, which is a fun — if cheesy — read.)
Carano, 41, maintains that she was unceremoniously canned because she dared to express her conservative political views on social media. Hard to disagree with that. In a March 2021 call with investors, then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek implied that Carano did not share the company’s values of respect, decency, integrity and inclusion. He didn’t mention free speech, which is ironic since Disney would later accuse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of violating the company’s free speech in retaliation for Disney’s opposition to the state’s 2022 “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
In her posts, Carano has also ridiculed California mask mandates, embraced conspiracy theories about voter fraud and mocked demands by trans activists that she state her preferred pronouns, which, alluding to R2-D2, she declared were “boop/bop/beep.” That is not transphobia; that is refusing to be cowed by people who demand you do something you don’t feel like doing. (I don’t put pronouns on my signature card, either.)
Carano also alleges that she was treated differently from her male co-star, Pedro Pascal, the Mandalorian himself, who once posted a meme conflating former President Trump with Hitler and Nazis, and suffered no blowback, even though, as the lawsuit alleges, “some would find their statements ‘abhorrent.’ ”
Carano was a celebrated mixed martial arts fighter before being tapped, out of the blue as she has described it, by Steven Soderbergh to star in his 2011 thriller “Haywire” with an A-list cast of co-stars: Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan MacGregor, Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender.
“I expect her to become a considerable box-office success,” Roger Ebert wrote in his “Haywire” review, “because the fact is, within a limited range, she’s good. She has the no-nonsense beauty of a Noomi Rapace, Linda Fiorentino or Michelle Monaghan.”
That Carano’s movie career has been derailed is clear. That it happened because she embraces ideas that are out of step with Hollywood’s liberal orthodoxy is also clear. It’s not fair, but she became a target for rabid “Star Wars” fans and a headache for Lucasfilms — which is not required to put up with headaches.
In 2022, she starred in “Terror on the Prairie,” a movie produced by Ben Shapiro and the Daily Wire as part of the conservative media outfit’s attempt to do battle with, as Shapiro put it, “a culture that despises conservatives.” The movie bombed.
With Disney and Lucasfilm, Carano took a stand on principle, and she lost. She is asking for damages, of course. And she also wants her job back. In the end, she traded stardom for a star turn on conservative talk shows. I wonder if she thinks it was worth the price.
History of Evil: Shudder Film Review
Paul Wesley and Jackie Cruz star in History of Evil, which follows an escapee of political prison in 2045 who’s on the run from the sinister theocratic government.
Bo Mirhosseni’s debut feature film is a personal and political ode to his parents, who were both human right activists during the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s. Mirhosseni has always had a desire to mix his love for the horror genre along with his political upbringing to make something he, and audiences, could relate back to the changing attitudes in society today. And ta-da! He’s managed to create the intensely quieting History of Evil. It’s a combination of the horror out in the “real” world along with supernatural elements. Think The Amityville Horror meets Battle Royale but very diligently streamlined to not be too over the top when it comes to the occult or gore. For a horror debut, it’s horrific (in the best way possible)!
Paul Wesley delivers an eerily good performance as Ron, the husband of Alegre (Jackie Cruz), an escapee of political prison, and father of six-year-old Daria (Murphee Bloom). Together, along with Trudy (Rhonda Dents), a trustworthy escort for their trip, they’re on the run and en route to an uncanny secluded safe house. History of Evil is meant to be set in 2045 but hauntingly could pass as the present day. In order to arrive at their hideaway, they must pass a checkpoint. Alegre and Daria climb inside cadaver pouches and wait for armed men to scan their ankle monitors, which will show a fake identity, so they can continue their journey in secrecy.
The four arrive at their safe house finally, constantly staying vigilant by wearing camouflage jackets so that the drones can’t spot them. They only plan on staying for 24 hours so don’t think too much of the only things to eat and drink being two bottles of water, a carrot, which Alegre gives to their dog, and slices of plastic cheese. They radio through to The Resistance, the opposing side to the government and the group in which Alegre is a part of, who are meant to be coming to their rescue but they’ve been delayed at the border. One night is what they initially planned so another can’t be too bad, can it?
What Ron, Alegre, Daria and Trudy are yet to realise is that the horrors outside might just be as bad as the history that the house holds within its walls. There’s no escape, and either way, they’ll be met with evil. History of Evil makes your blood run cold for the first half of the runtime, but loses momentum as the story reaches its climax. It’s cleverly created to make it an evil vs evil narrative where whatever decision the characters make they’ll be surrounded by misfortune, but that makes it feel a little bit too predictable. We know, whatever happens, it won’t be a positive outcome.
When Daria finds someone breathing through a plastic sheet in her wardrobe it creates such a sinister atmosphere, and I wish there was more of that imagery throughout. That image being on the poster makes you think that this will be a theme running throughout but it isn’t. Yes, there are ungodly horrors throughout, but visually, it needed to be more haunting. However, with that being said, the fundamental storyline and the commentary on society is nauseating, maybe enough to make up for the lack of hair-raising visuals.
Mirhosseni is not new to the directorial scene and his resume is already jam-packed with music videos that he’s directed for the likes of Mac Miller, Disclosure and Kehlani. With a debut like History of Evil, I can see his follow up films, especially if they are in the horror genre, being just as good if not better. Seek out History of Evil on Shudder and add it to your watchlist if you want a chilling thriller.
History of Evil will be available to watch on Shudder from February 23, 2024.
Hoda Kotb offers Kelly Rowland 'Today' show 'redo' after alleged dressing room walkout
Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager extended olive branches to Kelly Rowland: an opportunity to return to the “Today” show, and promises to spruce up their backstage accommodations.
The co-anchors discussed making amends with the “Mea Culpa” star and former Destiny’s Child singer a week after she reportedly walked off the “Today” show. Last week, Page Six reported that Rowland and her team abruptly left the New York studio due to a disappointing dressing room.
“There’s no one who’s more gracious or grateful than Kelly,” Kotb told Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday. “We’ve been texting back and forth. … I gave her a call, I said, ‘C’mon girl, we’re waiting. We’ll do a redo.’”
Rowland was set to co-host a segment of the “Today” show with Kotb, but after her abrupt exit, the broadcast vet reportedly scrambled to find a replacement. Ultimately, singer Rita Ora filled the spot. Ora had been scheduled as a guest that morning. (“We had two minutes to prepare,” the singer wrote on Instagram, alongside a carousel of photos and video.)
Kotb’s Wednesday comments echoed sentiments she shared during Tuesday’s broadcast. Addressing reports of the dressing room drama, Kotb said, “she can share my dressing room. We’ll be together.”
A representative for Rowland praised the singer — “one of the kindest, most amiable humans I have ever met” — this week but did not confirm or deny whether the allegedly subpar dressing room played a role in the singer-actor’s sudden “Today” exit. Kotb, however, admitted on Wednesday that “our dressing rooms are not the greatest.”
“None of them are great,” she said, before likening the backstage spaces to the less-than-luxurious dressing rooms at Broadway venues. “It’s kind of the charm of the ‘Today’ show.”
Bush Hager, who also voiced love for Rowland earlier this week, offered to beautify the “Today” dressing rooms herself, expressing her interest in interior design.
Savannah Guthrie, promoting her new book, “Mostly What God Does,” also told ET that they “need to remodel and decorate” the “Today” dressing rooms. Another report about Rowland’s exit alleged that Guthrie’s questions about Beyoncé and her new music drove the “Freddy vs. Jason” star away. Guthrie did not address those allegations.
“We need ‘Extreme Makeover: Today Show’ edition,” she told the website. “We are in a historic studio — 1A — it’s the same studio that has been used for decades. It’s incredible, it’s iconic and it’s old … if you want history, sometimes you’re going to have a few little chips of paint coming off the walls.”
She continued: “We try to do our best, and hopefully the main thing is how people feel and the reception they get. I hope they feel the warm hug from all of us on the show, because we’re really grateful for our guests for coming.”
Earlier this week, Rowland received love (and a luxurious dressing room) from daytime TV host Sherri Shepherd. Throwing some subtle shade at the dressing room debacle, the Instagram account of Shepherd’s show shared a video of the 43-year-old’s luxe accommodations, which included a spacious couch, multiple plush chairs and a blue velvet ottoman.
“A TIME WAS HAD with the legendary Kelly Rowland at the Sherri Show,” read the video’s original caption, which has since been edited.
While promoting “Mea Culpa,” written and directed by Tyler Perry, Rowland praised Shepherd for being a “light, positive energy in this space, in this time.”
“We needed you, and I thank you so much for your light,” Rowland said.
A Different Take On Exorcism But No Scare Fest
The writing by Peter Sattler and David Gordon Green on the story by Scott Teems, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green was weak. Being a horror film it wasn’t able to bring on the scare fest feel that an exorcist film is associated with. Had the performances of the young girls been not up to the mark, the story would have been a total bore. The only thing that’s decent about the writing is that it took a different approach to exorcism and didn’t take the usual routes which have been used for ages in the franchise.
As the director David Gordon Green tries to salvage a weak story but isn’t able to work his magic around that well. He does bring in some jump scares and some scenes where you’re trying to shut your eyes in horror, but besides those few scenes there’s hardly any other scene where you will be actually palpitating. He definitely got the climax correctly where he is able to keep you hooked till the last shot wanting to know what’s going to happen next.
The cinematography by Michael Simmonds is good. He has managed to not only showcase the locales in a way that you will feel have an eerie feeling, but he has also gotten the lighting very perfectly. As it’s a horror flick and most of the scenes are happening in the dark, there is hardly any scene where you’re unable to comprehend as to what’s happening when. The usage of lights was very nicely done.
Tim Alverson’s editing was good. He managed to keep the film crisp and not exceed more than 2 hours. With a weak storyline, had the film been even longer, it would have made you lose total interest in what’s going to happen in the climax.
David Wingo and Amman Abbasi’s music isn’t something to be wowed about. It’s just about okay. Even if you’re watching with noise cancelling earphones, the background score doesn’t give you that scary haunted feeling. The film missed out a lot here as with some great background score, scenes which weren’t even that scary could have been made to feel very fearful.
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