Brow Beat

Leslie Jones’ Tweets on Monday Night Were a Powerful Response to an Insane Torrent of Hate

Leslie Jones arrives at the premiere of Ghostbusters.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Comedian and actress Leslie Jones took the opportunity Monday to make a stand against the racist and sexist abuse she’s been receiving on Twitter. She did it by simply retweeting and replying to a fraction of the horrible people that contact her daily:

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After hours of replying to users who sent her vile, misspelled slurs and pictures of gorillas, she wrote out her thoughts on her Twitter feed, questioning whether having a Twitter account was worth the abuse:

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Jones, placed in the untenable position of proving her own humanity, made a plea for empathy:

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And wrote about the pain of encountering such unalloyed hatred:

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She also made the point that Twitter has completely failed to solve this problem.

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Naturally, Milo “Gamergate” Yiannopoulos, the failed startup founder and sentient spreadsheet whose own employees had to sue him to get paid, tried to use the situation to draw attention to himself. The less said about that, the better, except to note he deliberately made things worse for Jones by pointing his dimwitted readers in her direction. After the actress spent several more hours dealing with even worse abuse—including fake tweets making it seem like she’d used homophobic slurs—she signed off, disheartened:

The rest of the comedy world tweeted their support, from Ghostbusters director Paul Feig:

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To the film’s screenwriter Katie Dippold:

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To Judd Apatow:

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There’s a story to be told here, about the same opportunistic fraud leading the same vicious, giggly children to make yet another stranger miserable. But you’ve already heard that story, because we tell it every time this sad, dumb cycle repeats. It isn’t a secret who these people are, just like it isn’t a secret that Twitter isn’t doing enough to drain the swamp. It wouldn’t be hard to ban ringleaders like Yiannopoulos—unless you happened to have a business model that benefited from highly engaged users like his harassment squad and the hashtag wars they create. So even more than the individual users Jones highlighted—many of whom have had their accounts disabled since Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey noticed a celebrity was in trouble and offered to discuss her problem privately—we should all be calling out Twitter for its institutional failure to address this issue. But that doesn’t mean we have to let the internet racist brigade decide the terms of our conversation, especially when it comes to Leslie Jones. Needless to say there’s more warmth, joy, and generosity in any one of Leslie Jones’ performances than there is in the entire mob that’s harassing her, so it makes sense to give some of those performances the last word:

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American Voices

Jones is at her funniest in this sketch as doomed 1960s late-night host Ruby Nichols, whose television show comes to an abrupt end when she says, “I’m gonna tell you right now what I think of every white person here.”

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Inner White Girl

Jones and Reese Witherspoon play off each other beautifully as Witherspoon calmly helps Jones navigate her way through a bureaucratic maze of passive-aggressive white bank employees. Until, that is, the bank manager discovers her Achilles’ heel.

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Texting Etiquette

Leslie Jones never seems to be having more fun than she does alternately flirting with and terrifying Colin Jost in her regular “Weekend Update” appearances. In this segment on texting etiquette her enthusiasm is so contagious Jost can’t keep a straight face.

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Bus

It’s not easy to steal a scene from Melissa McCarthy, especially when she’s got most of the dialogue, but Jones pulls it off. Her perfectly executed slow burn at McCarthy’s oblivious blathering is one of the best silent comedy bits in years.

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