Actress Mercedes Varnado plays Koska Reeves on The Mandalorian. While she isn’t yet a major figure in the series, it’s been expected that we’ll see her character develop as more Star Wars projects are coming to life. However, it seems that cancel culture may be coming for her before that ever happens. In what feels like a repeat of events with actress Gina Carano, Mercedes Varnado has been caught liking an anti-vaccination post on Instagram. She is also a WWE star known as Sasha Banks, and with 5 million followers watching her every move, the star has come under public scrutiny. Is The Mandalorian star about to go the way of Carano?
Mercedes Varnado has yet to publicly say anything on her social media about the incident, though many are talking about it for her. What happened is that on her Instagram, Mercedes Varnado was caught liking this post, wherein a long caption describes how the poster believes that COVID-19 vaccinations are full of radiation and other conspiracy theories. They also describe that they refuse to wear a mask. Gina Carano, who was fired from The Mandalorian and her role as Cara Dune, was also anti-masks.
Too often, we treat social media like it’s a private thing. Public figures, like stars from The Mandalorian, will often realize their social media accounts are for promotion, in that they will make posts talking directly to their fans and asking them to check out their new projects. However, too many public figures don’t consider that their fans will notice when they “like” posts, especially controversial ones. On Instagram, this is particularly true, since when a post comes up in the feed it will first list a couple of the people you follow who have liked the post. As news spread of Mercedes Varnado liking the post, many have jumped to brushing her off, moving on, and cancelling the Star Wars actress and WWE star.
Some have questioned whether public figures should be judged based on the posts they like. On one hand, liking that post speaks to supporting what was said. Also, because people feel like “liking” posts is more private, many read this as a better way of knowing what a public figure’s true thoughts and beliefs are. If The Mandalorian star isn’t publicly spreading her harmful beliefs, should she still be cancelled for them once people know what her thoughts are? And is liking a post necessarily reflective of her true thoughts, when the actress may not have read the caption, may have misunderstood, the meme, and may make a habit of liking posts she sees randomly? Some people take “liking” more seriously than others, which makes knowing their true thoughts more difficult, particularly when they’re not sharing them.
In the case of Gina Carano, it took months and many public controversial posts before the actress was fired from The Mandalorian. However, her character, Cara Dune, was a bigger player in the show. It may not take as much to simply remove Mercedes Varnado from the production. Will Lucasfilm be concerned about Mercedes Varnado’s social media behavior? Will they fire her, or perhaps talk to her first? Is this the only social media scandal to have cancel culture looking at the star, or the first of many future reveals waiting to happen, as was the case of Gina Carano and her long string of posts?