Getting cancelled is becoming an ever more common occurrence online. When it comes to fantasy, sci-fi, movies and TV, who felt the brunt of it in 2020?
On the internet, to “cancel” someone vaguely means to call them out for bad behavior, stop supporting them in whatever they do, and maybe boycott them. It’s a slippery term, but it’s been cropping up a lot more frequently of late, with actors, athletes, politicians and other public figures increasingly wary of saying or doing the wrong thing lest they face cancellation.
Is cancelling a good thing? A bad thing? It depends on who you ask. Personally, I like to take it on a case by case basis. Sometimes someone says or does something really ignorant and potentially harmful, and could probably stand to be educated on another perspective. At other times, Twitter just seems to whip itself into a froth and dog-pile on someone over the smallest little thing.
So canceling is the best of phenomena and the worst of phenomena, but it’s definitely a phenomena, one that’s thriving in our current social media age. With everyone stuck at home in 2020, it was a banner year for cancellations. And it was an election at that, so you know tensions ran high. Here were some of the highlights, at least on the sci-fi/fantasy/fandom side of things.
Gina Carano plays Cara Dune on The Mandalorian, one of the most popular shows on streaming right now. And she got into a couple of dustups this year.
Why was she cancelled?
The first bump in the road came in September, when people asked her to add her pronouns to her Twitter bio and she added the words “boop/bop/beep,” mocking a practice intended to help avoid misgendering online. Some folks tried to calmly explain why that was hurtful while others hurled insults at her. It was a pretty standard cancellation all around.
The next bump came later, when President Donald Trump was spreading baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud after unprecedentedly refusing to recognize President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Carano tweeted messages in line with these conspiracies, which resulted in tweets like these:
What happened afterward?
Nothing, really. So far as we can tell, Carano is still a part of The Mandalorian and is on good terms with the cast. And since she continued to mock mail-in voting and vaccinations into December, it didn’t seem to have much effect on it. Or she dug in out of spite; it comes to the same thing.
That’s one of the big problems with cancellation as I see it: it’s not very good at accomplishing its goal, assuming its goal is to change the mind of the person being cancelled. As often as not, they just dig in deeper; we’ll see an extreme example of that later on.