Jenna Ortega exits Scream franchise following firing of Melissa Barrera over Palestine comments

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Nov 23, 2023 at 01:18 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Jenna Ortega is reportedly exiting the Scream franchise, days after her co-star Melissa Barrera was sacked by production company Spyglass Media over her comments on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Deadline has reported that Ortega dropped out of the horror film sequel due to “scheduling conflicts” with the second season of her Netflix hit show Wednesday. According to the entertainment publication, her departure from the film was already being discussed prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike because the Netflix shoot is expected to extend into the summer of 2024.

“This has nothing to do with the fallout from Melissa Barrera’s firing yesterday by Spyglass Media over that actress’ social media repostings on the Hamas-Israel conflict,” Deadline stated.

Nevertheless, a lot of netizens have taken Ortega’s exit to mean exactly that and expressed support for the two on social media.

“They fired Melissa Barrera from Scream 7 and now Jenna Ortega is also out because of ‘schedule conflicts’ I know that’s right!” one X user stated in a post. “Two final girls standing in their truths and walking away from all of this,” another user replied under their post.

On Tuesday 21 November 2023, TMZ reported that Melissa Barrera had been fired from the Scream film sequel after her pro-Palestinian social media posts were interpreted as antisemitic by the production company Spyglass.

Since 14 October, Barrera has reposted hundreds of quotes, articles, tweets, videos, and infographics about the war. In one particular Instagram story, she stated: “I love my Jewish friends. I stand with you in these horrible times. I empathise with your fear and pain. No one deserves to be persecuted or attacked. All Jewish people are not the Israeli government. Do not blame, or hate on, a whole group of people because of what some are doing. I stand with all those caught in the crossfire.”

The actress continued her story: “Gaza is currently being treated like a concentration camp. Cornering everyone together, with nowhere to go, no electricity no water … People have learnt nothing from our histories. And just like our histories, people are still silently watching it all happen. This is genocide and ethnic cleansing.”

Spyglass stated the posts violated its “zero tolerance for antisemitism.” This statement seemingly refers to a story in which Barrera shared an article in Jewish Currents magazine from 13 October that accused the Israeli government of distorting the Holocaust to boost the Israeli arms industry. Spyglass also alluded to a statement by Barrera that compared Gaza to a “concentration camp,” as well as the sentiment that: “Western media only shows the [Israeli] side. Why do they do that, I will let you deduce for yourself.”

Holocaust distortion or trivialisations refers to any comparisons or analogies that diminish the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, which orchestrated the systematic murder of six million Jews across German-occupied Europe. Historians generally reject them, highlighting the impracticality of comparing historical events to the present, as well as the shallow understanding of the holocaust these sorts of statements convey. Nevertheless, it should be noted that holocaust trivialisation isn’t necessarily made intentionally, or rooted in antisemitism, although it can lead to it.

Lastly, it was also hinted towards ideas around a lying press in Barrea’s comments about Western media. The concept is used by far-right politicians to disparage and discredit mass media outlets, aka Trump at his rallies. It is also prevalent in conspiracy theories, such as Jewish media control. The bias of media outlets has been frequently pointed out throughout the war, thus it is unclear whether that statement was careless wording or intentionally incendiary language.

A spokesperson for the company behind the Scream franchise issued a statement following the initial publication of this article: “Spyglass’ stance is unequivocally clear: We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech.”

Since her firing, the actress has come forward to respond to reports and statements by Spyglass: “First and foremost I condemn antisemitism and Islamophobia,” she noted on her Instagram story.“I condemn hate and prejudice of any kind against any group of people. As a Latina, a proud Mexicana, I feel the responsibility of having a platform that allows me the privilege of being heard, and therefore I have tried to use it to raise awareness about issues I care about and to lend my voice to those in need,” the actress continued.

“I pray day and night for no more deaths, for no more violence, and for peaceful co-existence. 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. Silence is not an option for me,” Barrera concluded.

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