If there’s trolls in your Twitter feed, who ya gonna call? Dan Aykroyd!
The star of the original “Ghostbusters” film, released in 1984, came to the defense of new “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones after hundreds of Twitter users sent her a barrage of hateful messages. In an interview with ET Canada, Aykroyd addressed the attack, calling the perpetrators “insignificant gnats.” He went on to speculate about what kind of people hide behind their keyboards bullying strangers online, telling the publication they were likely “obese white men between 50 and 60” who are affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation and support presidential nominee Donald Trump. Aykroyd, 64, praised Jones, telling ET Canada that she is a woman of many talents and has overcome much adversity to get where she is today.
“These people, they’re insignificant gnats, they’re losers, they have no lives of their own, they can probably barely pay for the WiFi they’re using,” he said. “I’m afraid to say that that contingency will be voting for the republican ticket, pretty much that’s what the statistics are indicating and there’s a lot of white racist hatred out there that’s going to channel into a support for the republican ticket, maybe in the false belief that these people share their views.”
After seeing the hateful messages, many of which likened Jones, 48, to a gorilla, celebrities and fans alike rallied by her side. The hashtag #LoveForLeslieJ began trending as supportive messages rolled in for the “Ghostbusters” reboot star. Celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith, Anna Kendrick, Judd Apatow, Margaret Cho and director Paul Feig got in on the action, calling for Jones to “shine” and reminding her what an amazing comedian, friend, and actress she really is.
Jones quit Twitter on Tuesday after the social media site failed to step in to stop the racist attacks. She shared one final message with her 273,000 followers, writing that she was in “tears” as she logged off. Jones went on to say that she didn’t care if people liked the “Ghostbusters” remake, which has been received with much controversy since it was announced in 2015, but said it was “wrong” to attack her on a personal level because of her involvement.
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
As was previously reported, the attacks were spurred by Milo Yiannopoulos, a technology editor for conservative outlet Breitbart. The writer, who was known as @Nero on Twitter, urged his 388,000 followers to send hateful messages to Jones. Yiannopoulos has since been suspended from Twitter indefinitely, which led to questions of free speech. Many, including the defunct Twitter user, suggested that him being removed from the site proves that it is “a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists,” but not those with conservative views. Yiannopoulos also questioned why he was being held responsible for the actions of his followers.
Breitbart published a piece on their employees’ Twitter suspension, revealing that it came just 20 minutes before he was slated to host a “Gays for Trump” event at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Fans and followers reacted to the suspension by using the hashtags #FreeMilo and #FreeNero to show what they felt were far more dangerous posts the site and it’s founder, Jack Dorsey, allowed to remain up. Some began sharing fake posts from a Twitter user posing as Jones, tweeting hateful messages about white people. Jones acknowledged the fake account before quitting Twitter, but that did nothing to stop the spread of what many called “reverse racism.”
Despite the outrage, Yiannopoulos has a history of orchestrating attacks by his followers on other Twitter users. The writer, described as both a voice for the “alt-right” and a “troll,” previously described feminism as a cancer, urging his followers to cyberbully notable feminists like Femsplain founder Amber Discko, according to Gizmodo. Yiannopoulos has also suggested that the best way for women to avoid being attacked online is to simply abstain from using the internet.