The media won’t stop blaming the recent cyber-attacks of Leslie Jones on racism, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Saturday Night Live cast-mate, Leslie Jones, was recently the victim of cyber-bullying. July’s Ghostbusters reboot, Jones co-starred in, received a lot of public scrutiny due to the film’s casting of all female leads. When one of the movie’s more disappointed critics, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Jones had a brief sparring match on twitter — due to his review of the motion picture — all hell broke loose. Milo supporters started collectively hurling insults at Leslie, prompting Jones to allege that Yiannopoulos had provoked his Twitter following to target her. She reported this claim to Twitter, Twitter’s CEO responded personally, and Milo has been banned from the social networking site (#FreeMilo) ever since. Jones, however, got a celebratory hashtag (#LoveForLeslieJ) and has gained over 150,000 more followers after the incident.
It’s important to note that the original insult Yiannopoulos directed towards Jones was solely in reference to her work. In Milo’s first tweet to Leslie, he implores her to stop acting like a “hammy 80s black character.” She responds negatively and he proceeds to challenge her intelligence by calling her “illiterate.” Displeased, Jones responds by blocking access of Yiannopoulos’ account to her own. She then tweeted and retweeted disparaging remarks directed at Milo’s sexuality, alleging her account had been “hacked” after they were taken down. Yiannopoulos follows by referring to Jones as a “dude,” accuses her of self-victimization, and their back-and-forth officially concludes.
Milo Yiannopoulos never directly asked his following to antagonize Jones, but mainstream media tells a different story:
Yahoo: “Twitter did end up taking action against one of the apparent ringleaders in the online bullying of Jones, banning Milo Yiannopoulos, a technology editor for Breitbart, who allegedly helped direct the maelstrom of hurtful comments at Jones.”
CBS: “Breitbart.com tech editor and conservative Milo Yiannopoulos, was barred from the microblogging site after Jones pointed out that he was accused of orchestrating the vicious remarks against Jones.”
The Daily Beast: “Twitter permanently banned Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos on Tuesday after he encouraged users to harass actress Leslie Jones, who was subsequently targeted over her gender and race.”
People: “In response to the hate, Twitter permanently suspended conservative writer and Breitbart.com tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who has been accused of leading a harassment campaign against the Saturday Night Live actress.”
We all know the media can lie, but The Daily Beast wrote that Milo “encouraged users to harass” Leslie when that never actually happened. If Milo’s followers attacked Leslie after their initial exchange, he shouldn’t be liable for their actions. When a crazed Cristiano Ronaldo fan actually murdered someone over their argument about Lionel Messi being considered a better soccer player, Ronaldo didn’t receive any personal responsibility for the actions of his fan-base. This situation isn’t any different.
As the bulk of mainstream media collectively took Leslie’s side, each outlet encouraged the public to view Jones as a victim of racially provoked harassment without mentioning Jones’ penchant for the exact same behavior.
Jones has even used Twitter to provoke fans to combat her critics. Milo was falsely accused of doing the same thing but ended up with a permanently suspended account regardless.
When she didn’t like the criticism her work had received, she easily played into self-victimization and it’s not surprising. If Milo had have used less derogatory verbiage, Leslie wouldn’t have been able to paint his honesty as racially motivated. However, we live in a country where organizations like Black Lives Matter seek to maintain the oppressive stereotype that black people are in a state of constant suffering. Black people are repeatedly told by the mainstream media that they make less income than whites, that they have a worse chance at getting a good education because they’re not white, and that they will be shot by law enforcement for not being white.
In a country that outwardly represents a minority group this way, why wouldn’t African Americans fall for it? When Milo called Leslie “illiterate” and a “dude,” in today’s world, why wouldn’t Leslie assume those remarks were directed at her blackness? She’s practically been indoctrinated to feel that way. I’m sure the fact that Leslie Jones uses poor grammar, improper punctuation (on her Twitter) and has masculine features have nothing to do with what Yiannopoulos said.
Though Leslie’s altercation with Milo happened in July, Jones was recently the unfortunate victim of a harrowing online security breach of her personal information. The comedian’s personal identification and other private information were leaked to the public along with nude photos. The media responded in typical fashion, calling the horrendous act “shameful” and a “hate-crime.” Democrat presidential nominee (and quiet racist) Hillary Clinton even reached out to Leslie via her official Twitter account to lend the star support while rebuking the attack. Shortly after, it was reported that Leslie now has Homeland Security working to find her offender. Jones is now a public victim again (this time understandably) and the mainstream media has immediately become her sympathizer. What they don’t realize is that they’ve also became her enabler.
Leslie Jones was never originally targeted for her race. When Milo initially approached her on Twitter, it was in response to her role in Ghostbusters. The subject didn’t change to race until Leslie shifted it in that direction. When Leslie didn’t like Yiannopoulos’ opinion, she demeaned it. When his following responded to her feedback, she sought to have him silenced. In a society that has made it a standard practice for African-Americans to call out people who are not black for their “white privilege,” how are Leslie Jones’ actions any different? On top of that, she’s a celebrity. When I’m legitimately targeted for my ethnicity or for being homosexual, I don’t get a follower boost, an encouraging viral hashtag from my fan-base, favoritism from the media, a shout-out from the Democrat presidential nominee, help from Homeland Security and CEO-backed assistance to silence my enemies. I just have to deal with it.
That’s why I think Leslie Jones should deal with the truth. People have stopped talking about her work as a comedian now that she’s morphed into a professional victim. I use the term victim (in response to her infamous Milo feud) loosely because she admitted in an interview with Late Night host Seth Meyers, above, that her feelings were never truly affected by the commentary she received on Twitter. Yes, Leslie Jones has willingly admitted that she played the victim. While I feel bad for anyone who experiences racism, online bullying, or a vicious attack on their personal property, I do not feel bad for people who use unfortunate circumstances for personal gain. I was guilty of falling for it the first time she cried racism. Now that it’s happening again, it’s important to take all of the details into consideration. The recent attack against Leslie Jones was not a hate-crime, it was most likely a wake-up call for Jones to check her black and celebrity privilege. Our mainstream media needs to realize that it does people like Leslie more harm than good.