Since Leslie Jones went through 24 hours of hellish harassment, sparked by the tweets of the now permanently suspended conservative blogger Milo Yiannopoulos, there have been a flood of people rushing to back Jones up. Early on in the ordeal, Twitter user Marissa Rei, the same user who started #BlackOutDay, started the #LoveForLeslieJ hashtag in order to take a stand of support. Soon after, notables like Ghostbusters director Paul Feig and actresses Anna Kendrick, Jada Pinkett Smith and Margaret Cho flocked to it. Even yesterday, Viola Davis added a late addition to the movement. But surprisingly, none of Jones’ Ghostbusters co-stars leant their voices.
Of the four female co-stars, only Jones and Melissa McCarthy have official Twitter accounts. And while McCarthy’s latest Tweets stop a week ago and are mostly just auto-posts from Instagram, her favorites go up to this past Friday, acknowledging some fan love for the film. Since then, McCarthy, as well as Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig, who round out the cast, have been radio silent. For a group that appeared to band together and battle the backlash of the Ghostbusters reboot as a united front, it’s been strange to see Jones forced to face the abuse sans her co-stars. Especially considering the issue is seemingly so cut and dry. So what’s going on?
“You know, first off, just because they are co-stars doesn’t mean they’re friends,” Mike Heller, CEO of Talent Resources told Complex. Heller has worked with talent like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, helping to build and position their social media platforms in the past. “A lot of times these groups are put together and to the public they are friends but really they don’t get along and they just do their jobs and they leave. So that’s one thing to note.
“But also there’s also a lot of controversy going on in the world,” Heller continued. “A lot of talent are advised to not get involved in other people’s problems. You could end up polarizing yourself.” This position was corroborated by other publicists contacted for the purposes of this story, but it’s a hard one to understand. For one, it's difficult to comprehend find how supporting Jones could backfire on any co-star who decided to step in.
What Jones went through on Monday has been labeled misogynoir by outlets like The Guardian and more. It’s a specific type of hate that sits at the intersection of racism and sexism. Because of how unique that backlash is, it seems like a no-brainer for Viola Davis and Jada Pinkett Smith to lend their voices, as they have likely been subjected to the same sort of hate. But would there really be a backlash against Wiig, McCarthy, or McKinnon if they came to the aid of a co-star who was being torn down simply because of her gender and race? Additionally, are any of those actresses really that concerned about appeasing the small faction of racists in their fanbases?
Wiig spoke out early on in the Ghostbusters development about the sexist comments saying that it “bummed [her] out.” And yet, when Jones was getting photos of semen-splattered over her likeness sent to her online, she couldn’t find a reporter or a mic to voice her support.
It’s important to note that what’s seen in the public eye is never a comprehensive look at what’s going on. There’s no way to know if Jones' co-stars sent letters or made heartfelt phone calls in her time of need. But there’s also something to be said about visibility. While the thought does count, a show of solidarity and strength can prove just as, if not more, powerful. It’s beyond time for Jones to get visible signs of support from her co-workers. She was there to help them fight sexism—they need to be there to help her fight that and much, much more.