“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
Those words turned out to basically be Gina Carano’s resignation letter from her role as Cara Dune on the runaway hit Lucasfilm series The Mandalorian — the first live-action Star Wars universe television series — which airs on Disney+.
It was the final straw for parent company Disney, who had already become annoyed with Carano’s social media posts where the former MMA star mocked people using facemasks amid the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election (thoroughly debunked through investigation after investigation after the election).
These were in addition to her mockery of the trend of people adding pronouns to their social media profiles in support of trans rights.
Comparing the slaughter of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany simply because of the blood flowing in their veins to being held accountable for saying stupid things turned out to be a bridge too far for the House of Mouse, and after sharing this reprehensible analogy on her Instagram account (emblazoned over a particularly graphic image of a Jewish woman being attacked during the Lviv Porgrams), she was not brought back to reprise her role in season 3 of The Madalorian — and she was summarily dropped by her talent agency, UTA as well.
Lucasfilm released the following statement at the time: “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
With this much smoke then, it comes as a bit of a surprise that Fan Expo Denver would choose to ignite a new fire and add Carano to its celebrity lineup, as first noted by Westword.The event is scheduled for July 1–3, 2022 at the Colorado Convention Center. Fan Expo — a nation-wide subsidiary of multinational event production company Informa — acquired and rebranded the Denver Comic Con in March 0f 2021.
Indeed, if this was a base publicity stunt by the Fan Expo team, it was certainly a successful move. Their Facebook post announcing it has drawn more that 1,100 comments, more than 900 reactions, and been shared 108 times. It’s far and away the most viral post on the page by miles.
To compare, posts announcing the appearances of Sons of Anarchy Star Charlie Hunnam, the cast of the Netflix hit series Cobra Kai, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels, and Jay and Silent Bob stars Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith have garnered a total of 479 comments in aggregate.
The ensuing Facebook thread is a dumpster fire of conflict in and of itself:
And some of the pro-Carano Camp:
But it would be cynical to think that igniting this outrage was the Fan Expo’s sole motive in adding Carano to the roster, right?
Well, based on the response provided when I reached out for comment, it sure seems like cynicism is the appropriate response. Over the course of a week, I sent five emails to the team listed on the Fan Expo Denver Contact Us web page: James White, director of content; James Armstrong, senior event coordinator; and Ansely Newland, programming coordinator, all to no response. It was only after I sent email number six — this time copying several people at Fan Expo parent company Informa — that I got a response:
My name is David Flomberg, and I’m a columnist for the Colorado Times Recorder.
I’ve been trying to contact someone to arrange an interview with whoever is in charge of booking celebrities for the Denver Fan Expo — specifically the choice to book Gina Carano, given the controversy surrounding some of the things she’s shared on Twitter and her subsequent departure from Disney. I’ve sent multiple emails over the last week and have received no response. Would someone please respond to this interview request? Even if it’s simply to tell me you don’t want to talk about it?
The response finally came from Debbie Fitzgerald, owner of Fitzgerald Petersen Communications, who I can only assume is the PR firm for Fan Expo Denver. Her disappointing, boilerplate response:
Hello & hope this finds you having a great day!
Your email found its way to me… sorry for the delay.
I wanted to provide a statement in response to your inquiry:
FAN EXPO Denver is an inclusive space and caters to a wide variety of fans; that includes both fans of the celebrities planning on attending and non-fans. There is always a demand from fans to bring the biggest names in entertainment and pop culture to the event, based on their popularity within their genre. At this time planning continues with great energy and excitement for this first full scale return of FAN EXPO Denver in some 3 years. —FAN EXPO Denver
Knowing it was likely the only thing they were willing to say on the subject, I tried one more follow-up:
Thank you for the response, Debbie.
Follow up questions:
1) Does Fan Expo have a policy on diversity, equity and inclusion in written format you can share?
2) Given Carano’s public statements against mask wearing and COVID vaccinations, if state/city mandates are reinstated prior to fan expo, do you anticipate any issues with her presence?
3) What is Fan Expo’s stance on Holocaust appropriation and trivialization? Many people on the FB thread regarding Carano’s appearance are voicing concern that the decision to book her is at least a tacit approval of her choice to use her celebrity platform to espouse these views.
And her final response to that confirmed my suspicion:
At this time Fan Expo is providing that statement. Thank you have a great night!
Fitzgerald Petersen Comm. Inc.
So there we have it. The takeaway here seems fairly clear to me: Gina Carano isn’t a big enough star by any measure that her name alone would move the needle on attendance numbers for the Expo. No one would have batted an eye if she hadn’t been invited. But by inviting her and trumpeting that fact on their Facebook page, they certainly drove a huge lift in terms of organic media, capitalizing on the acrimony and conflict this decision brought to light.
And therein lies the biggest disappointment of all.