It's a story that, sadly, has become all too familiar on Twitter. A beloved star with a large Twitter following is attacked with obscene and/or offensive tweets. The attack starts slowly and then snowballs until the celebrity can't take it anymore, and deletes his or her account.
The latest victim of this frequent phenomenon is Millie Bobby Brown, the beloved 14-year-old actress known for her portrayal of a telekinetic girl named Eleven in Stranger Things. She's won an Emmy nomination for her performance and praise for her anti-bullying activism. But a growing number of tweets have featured pictures of Brown faked to make it appear that she is saying hair-raising homophobic things.
In fact, Brown is a supporter of the LGBTQ community as well as an anti-bullying activist who also created the Twitter account @Milliestopshate to fight bullying of all kinds. But there's a twist to this story that's weird even for Twitter. The Millie-as-homophobe tweets seem to mostly have been tweeted by members of the LGBTQ community as some sort of out-of-control, overly elaborate joke.
It all began with a bizarre tweet by an account that--perhaps not surprisingly--is now suspended:
Having trouble seeing the humor in this? If so, you're not alone. One Twitter denizen tried to explain...
i think its because millie bobby brown maintains such a lovely public image that the idea of her doing anything like this is ridiculous. one could compare it with a unicorn with a gun-- Luke. (@LukeTheNeeerd) June 14, 2018
Meantime the Twitterverse piled on, sharing story after tearful story with the hashtag #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown.
omg i was rewatching stranger things season 2 and all of a sudden millie bobby brown jumped out of my screen and called me a "dumb homo" and used telekinesis on me and threw me at the ceiling. i had to go the hospital, such a horrible thing #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown-- love, rosen (@rosen_ts) June 10, 2018
Still don't see why this stuff would be considered funny? I don't either, but some people really do.
Maybe it would be funnier if Brown were an adult and willing to take part in the joke. But once she had deactivated her account--in other words, once it was too late--a lot of people began questioning the wisdom of the whole phenomenon.
idk bout you but this whole running joke on here that millie bobby brown is a homophobe/racist isnt funny at all...imagine getting pleasure from trying to ruin an innocent young girls reputation??? where is the humor in that? WHERE?-- abby • taeil day! (@tenseokjin) June 10, 2018
Some worry that her mistreatment at the hands of the LGBTQ community could actually turn her into a homophobe. And then there's this very legitimate concern:
NO MORE millie bobby brown homophobe jokes she's like 14 and SOMEONE is gonna be clueless enough to think it's real lmfao-- wynne (@wwyynne) June 12, 2018
Twitter users, of course, have a famously short attention span, and chances are they'll be on to something else soon enough, especially now that Brown's Twitter account is no more. In the meantime, this whole affair has been an interesting look at how something can seem completely funny to one person, and completely unfair and destructive to others.
Something to consider before you crack, or tweet, your next joke.