For months leading up to last week's release of the new Ghostbusters, the all-female cast has undergone a surprising amount of scrutiny for the remake of the Eighties classic, but not for the reasons you'd think.
A mostly-male subset of the internet—who insist their motives have nothing to do with gender but look very suspicially like they just might—has gone to great lengths to express their outrage. There was an organized "dislike campaign" on Youtube to downvote the trailer, the outright trolling of the film's stars, and even Donald Trump weighed in ("Now they're making Ghostbusters with only women! What's going on?!")
Even with all those misogynistic undertones aside, no one has endured quite as much hate as Leslie Jones. Not only has she suffered from the gender-based outrage related to the film, but she's now a victim to Twitter trolls who have mentioned her in racist comments and sent her pornography.
Ok I have been called Apes, sent pics of their asses,even got a pic with semen on my face. I'm tryin to figure out what human means. I'm out— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 18, 2016
In an especially awful turn, countless Twitter users went as far to compare the SNL queen to Harambe, the gorilla that was shot earlier this year at the Cincinnati zoo. Others have photoshopped her into inappropriate pictures and mocked her appearance. At first, the 48-year-old blocked all the negative feed, but then decided it was time to show her followers what kind of abuse she was being subjected to.
Exposing I hope y'all go after them like they going after me pic.twitter.com/ojK5FdIA0H— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 18, 2016
Within minutes, the star's Twitter feed flooded with the distasteful comments she had been tagged in. After spending hours trying to report and expose the bullies hidden behind their screens, Jones called on Twitter, saying something needed to change.
Twitter I understand you got free speech I get it. But there has to be some guidelines when you let spread like that. You can see on the— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
Profiles that some of these people are crazy sick. It's not enough to freeze Acct. They should be reported.— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
According to ABC, the social media site addressed the claim saying, "This type of abusive behavior is not permitted on Twitter, and we've taken action on many of the accounts reported to us by both Leslie and others." The social media site barred Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor at the conservative news site Breitbart, in an attempt to show they were taking action against the abuse.
"This is the beginning and end for Twitter," Yiannopoulus said in an interview with the Washington Post. "Some people are going to find this perfectly acceptable. Anyone who believes in free speech or is a conservative certainly will not."
Countless fans were quick to support Jones in the midst of this Twitter explosion. Perhaps the kindest words came from Ghostbusters director, Paul Feig, who took to Twitter to encourage others to support his dear friend.
Since then, the hashtag #LoveForLeslieJ has taken over Twitter, and is being used by more people to show their love and support for Jones. That said, despite all of the empathy, Jones decided it was best to part ways with the social media site with these final sad words.
I feel like I'm in a personal hell. I didn't do anything to deserve this. It's just too much. It shouldn't be like this. So hurt right now.— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart.All this cause I did a movie.You can hate the movie but the shit I got today...wrong— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
On July 21, Jones appeared on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and confirmed she has not officially "left Twitter." However, she also admitted she is used to this type of social media harassment, calling the situation "so gross, mean and unecessary."
The comedian took some time away from the social media negativity, but Jones is now encouraging everyone to only use online platforms for positive interactions.
Celebrity or not, bullying—whether it's between kids on the playground or, even worse, adults on social media—is a huge issue. The abuse that happened to Leslie Jones is unacceptable, and we should all do our part to make the Internet is a safer space for all. If you witness bully behavior, the worst thing to do is to be a bystander. Instead, report the abusive behavior, and more importantly, provide support and validation to the victim.