Let me preface this by saying I’m not a fan of Leslie Jones’s comedy.
It’s not she’s not funny; she’s an acquired taste. I thought she was brilliant in Top Five. I think her Allstate commercial is hilarious. But Leslie by herself, I can do a give or take sometimes.
In all fairness, I feel that way about many comedians (and I imagine you do as well). They’re hilarious to some people but they might just be alright to you. It happens. It’s okay.
What’s not okay is vile harassment and racism.
When I heard about the hack of Leslie Jones, I was mortified. It wasn’t just the release of her nudes (which I refuse to look at out of respect and I advise you to do the same). It was the sheer violation of privacy. While many focused on her nude pictures, I was more concerned about the release of her personal information. I was very concerned about the racist attack, likening her to slain gorilla, Harambe.
To hell with nudes, let’s talk about those last points for a minute.
It pretty much all started when Leslie was cast in the reboot of Ghostbusters with an all-female cast. Immediately, the internet trolls were in their butthurt feelings about a classic movie being remade with all women. I don’t know why. Many of the people who complained about it, weren’t even fucking born yet, but I digress…
When Leslie was cast, she was immediately singled out by a small, but very vocal section on Twitter. You see, despite Ernie Hudson being an original cast member of Ghostbusters, Leslie’s casting was a no-no in the butthurt-living-in-mama’s-basement-drinking-their-fifth-can-of-Mountain-Dew crew.
That’s when the racist attacks began, in large and unrelenting numbers, and she had to leave Twitter. She soon returned, marking an epic return that saw her get a sponsored trip to the Olympics via NBC (who also employs her).
I don’t think Leslie is attacked for things she’d said in the past (she’d often made jokes about white people). I do feel, however, she’s being attacked because: 1) she’s Black (let’s just get that out of the way), and 2) She’s not classically beautiful.
I honestly believe if Leslie looked more like Zoe Saldana, Halle Berry, or Kerry Washington, I think the attacks still would’ve been there but the racial tinge wouldn’t be as bad. Notice what I said – wouldn’t be as bad. Oh, they’ll still be there as evident with Zendaya’s casting in Spiderman, but I don’t believe Leslie would’ve been called a gorilla.
There is something very disturbing about what happened. It goes beyond telling a celebrity they suck or what they’re doing isn’t good. It’s about destroying someone’s livelihood. Posting her personal information? Posting pictures of a gorilla? Leaking her nudes?
It’s about humiliation. We’ve long drove past the road of ‘I don’t like you and I’m going to tell you how much you suck!’ Oh no, this is ‘I’m going to torment you so you’ll commit suicide’ territory and I wonder where in the hayle did we make that fucked-up turn?
And for Black women, it’s about knocking us down a peg or two to make sure we don’t get too comfortable.
I know because it’s happened to me.
I can easily recall one time I was walking in the mall with my then-best friend and I wore this very bright and colorful dress. Another Black woman saw me and complimented me, telling me how beautiful I was and how I’m wearing the dress. My then-best friend? The moment the woman was out of earshot, told me I wasn’t that great. My friend was non-Black.
Hence why she’s a former and not a current friend.
My example is just a sampling of what happens when a Black woman gets a bit of shine. We’re constantly told what’s wrong with us. I can’t tell you the number of times someone said to me if I were to lose a few more pounds, or if I were to fix my hair, or if I were to do this and do that, I would be perfect.
And it’s interesting because while I know I’m not perfect in many people’s eyes, I always found myself to be fabulous.
Gabby Douglas made history at the Olympics and haters focused on her hair. Serena Williams is a beast on the tennis court and is considered to be the greatest tennis player of all time, male or female, and she’s called manly every chance.
And it’s not just Black women (though that is my focus because I am one). It’s white women. It’s Latina women. It’s Asian women. And if you’re a woman with a significant online presence? You’re going to be attacked regardless. Let me introduce you to Gamergate.
The attack against women has been brooding for a while and I’m pretty sure having a racist and misogynist Presidential candidate doesn’t help matters but steadily feeds the flames. We ask for the opportunity, and we get shamed when it’s presented. Then sometimes, we create our own opportunities and we get hate for that!
I’m very concerned with Leslie’s well-being and I most certainly hope she can move past this and be even bigger than before. It’s interesting how the racist trolls feel they won a victory by humiliating her but in actuality, they made Leslie the most famous comedienne on the planet. People are now going to support her out of love and respect (and maybe some pity thrown in).
For now, we need to love and support each other. Life is too short to carry so much anger and hate towards a complete stranger whose only crime is she made a movie. If you don’t like her or she’s not your cup of tea, don’t pay her any mind and go about your own business. Furthermore, leave her the fuck alone.
Karmic retribution is a funny thing. It always keeps track and it’ll hit at the right moment. I hope those who find the humor and joy in Ms. Jones’s humiliation seek redemption very soon. I would not want to be them when karma strikes.
All of that energy anyone has for harassing her could be spent doing more productive things. It would be just awful to be an individual who has so much hate towards someone I don’t know, someone I’ve never met, and I could use that same energy to better my life.