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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘Silence is not an option for me’: How Hollywood is punishing Palestine supporters


For almost two months — and 75 years — Palestine has been under attack. People from all walks of life have been voicing their support, and punishments have begun trickling down the line in the forms of job losses and blacklistings. As the news cycle began focusing on the violence occurring, and more and more members of Hollywood began using their platforms, one thing quickly became clear:

Hollywood would be no exception to the trend.

Melissa Barrera — the actress behind Sam Carpenter, the protagonist in the two most recent installments of the “Scream” movies — was recently dropped from the franchise for her social media commentary about the ongoing violence in Palestine.

Spyglass Media Group, the film series’ production company, stated the reason behind the actress’ removal was a zero-tolerance policy for “antisemitism” and alleged that Barrera’s comments included “false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech.”

Several of the posts Barrera shared came from anti-Zionist Jewish organizations, like an article from Jewish Currents, which is the the post that led to Spyglass accusing her of “Holocaust distortion.”

The article in question was written by Raz Segal, a notable Israeli historian and Holocaust scholar. The piece is called “A Textbook Case of Genocide,” in which Segal himself analyzes the situation in Palestine and explains how it fits the definition of genocide under international law.

Of course, none of these factors mattered to Spyglass, which still dropped Barrera and accused her of hate speech against Jewish people. Nevermind the fact that never once did she say the words “Jewish” or “Jews” — simply criticizing Israel and supporting Palestine was enough.

In an Instagram story released shortly after her departure was made public, Barrera explained that as a Latina, she felt a responsibility to use her voice for others. 

“I will continue to speak out for those that need it most and continue to advocate for peace and safety, for human rights and freedom,” she wrote. “Silence is not an option for me.”

A day after the news about Barrera was announced, Jenna Ortega — who plays Barrera’s younger sister in the “Scream” films — departed from the film franchise. Deadline reported that Ortega’s exit had nothing to do with Barrera’s firing, and was related to scheduling conflicts with season two of Netflix’s “Wednesday.”

And yet, it was hard not to notice the timing of the news. Considering Ortega has expressed support for Palestine in the past, it’s difficult to believe that the actress’ choice to leave the films had nothing to do with what happened to her co-star.

In a similar vein, United Talent Agency dropped Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon for comments she made at a pro-Palestine rally in New York City. Sarandon has been vocal both on social media and at in-person events in support of Palestine, but parts of the speech she gave at the Nov. 17 gathering were quickly weaponized against her.

“There are a lot of people that are afraid, that are afraid of being Jewish at this time, and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence,” Sarandon said.

The actress was commenting on the quality of life for Muslims in America post-9/11, relating the way many Jews are now fearing for their safety due to being Jewish to the way many Muslims have been living for decades now. And yet, much like Barrera, all context seemed to slip away as Sarandon was labeled antisemitic and lost her agent.

Barrera and Sarandon might be among the first to face retribution for supporting Palestine, but they will almost certainly not be the last. Already the problem is stretching from talent to behind the scenes, with the powerful Creative Artists Agency demoting its former co-chief, Maha Dakhil, after she shared a pro-Palestine Instagram post. She was only able to remain employed as an agent at the company after Tom Cruise, one of her most notable clients, went to the company inperson to stand in support of her.

And yet, as those supporting Palestine are losing their jobs and facing internet vitriol, supporters of Israel in Hollywood continue to share posts supporting Israel cutting Gaza’s water and electricity supply and memes implying all Gazans are rapists (specific examples from Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer, respectively).

Not only has Hollywood historically stood with Israel since the country’s founding in 1948, but it’s been long known to oust those who oppose its infrastructure.

The reality is, supporting Israel benefits Hollywood, but it does not benefit all of those who work within it. And as more and more industry professionals continue to show their support for Palestine, they prove that no awards are worth more than a life.

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Zoe Leone
Zoe Leone, Arts & Life Editor

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