“I feel really bad for her,” the most frightened performance nominee told Variety on the MTV Movie & TV awards red carpet. “I think it was a smart move by her. People are just insensitive.”
In the wake of Twitter exits by celebrities like Brown and Kelly Marie Tran, who faced harassment online as the first female lead of color in the “Star Wars” franchise, Schnapp and more of Saturday’s MTV Awards attendees discussed the potential harm of toxic fandom culture on social media.
“Grown-ish” star Yara Shahidi said she likes to use social media to connect with fans, who she recognized as “the reason that we’re here.” But while she appreciates the benefits of online interaction, she also understands its negative capacities.
“You can say ‘ignore it’; you can say, ‘this is what you signed up for,’ but I don’t think anyone signs up for hate,” Shahidi said. “It’s a whole other component of really putrid dialogue that’s not considering the fact that we’re all humans. I feel like really just bringing back the humanity to social media is so essential because it’s a necessary tool.”
“13 Reasons Why” actress Alisha Boe also called for social media users to exercise empathy and recognize the humanity of those they target on the web.
“People get so comfortable and confident behind a screen because it takes the human interaction out of it,” Boe said. “But you have to sympathize with that person, and you have to put your own self in their shoes and think, you wouldn’t want those messages.”
Shahidi’s “Grown-ish” co-star Trevor Jackson echoed sentiments denouncing cyberbullying; however, he also believes those on the receiving end have a responsibility to guard themselves.
“I feel like the only reason people can get affected by cyberbullying is they invest all of themselves into social media,” Jackson said. “If you give everybody everything that you are, they have the ability, but if you’re smart about what you post, and you’re smart about how much of yourself you give, you don’t ever have to worry about that.”
Some, like “Riverdale” actress Ashleigh Murray, feel a pressure to weather the social media storm in order to stay relevant in an industry that is increasingly dependent on web presence. “Stranger Things” actor and scene stealer nominee Dacre Montgomery described social media as “the workplace” for those with entertainment careers.
“There are times when, if I could, I would delete my Instagram and my Twitter,” Murray said. “But it’s so engrained in our industry, and I’m in the wave of people coming up that kind of need to have it. But I commend anybody who needs to take their space and decides to let it go.”
Meanwhile, “Schitt’s Creek” star and comedic performance nominee Dan Levy advocated for legislation protecting victims of social media harassment, as he said there is “no difference” between in-person and online abuse.
“There should be laws put in place is what I think,” Levy said. “If someone writes you a letter that makes you feel unsafe, you would call the police. If someone sends you a tweet, that should be taken with the same sort of weight as someone writing you a really abusive letter.”
Lighter social media trends, like the “tired of Wakanda” memes picturing a blank-faced Chadwick Boseman throwing up the Wakanda symbol, were also a topic of red carpet discussion. “Black Panther” actor and best fight nominee Winston Duke laughed at the mention of the infamous photo.
“I think those were just taken out of context,” Duke said. “I don’t think any of us are really tired of it. That’s something that we labored over, and that’s something that’s our art, so I don’t think anyone’s really tired of it, but we do do it a lot. We do it a lot.”
Tiffany Haddish hosted the MTV Movie & TV Awards, which air on Monday, June 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV. See the full list of nominees here.