'Ghostbusters' Director Paul Feig: The Best Way to Deal With Internet Trolls (Guest Column)
"You do have to just block, ignore or not get pulled in, because it's a losing battle. If you engage, they will always claim victory," writes the helmer, who was attacked on social media over his decision to reboot a classic film with an all-female cast.
Perhaps no director has faced the wrath of online trolls quite like Paul Feig. Not long after he announced in 2014 that he would helm a female-fronted Ghostbusters reboot, a very vocal minority began a vitriolic assault on the film. Naturally, Feig defended his cast on Twitter, but that only added fuel to the bonfire. By the time the film’s first trailer debuted on YouTube, the internet haters had mobilized, and like-minded bloggers embedded the player on their sites to congregate negativity on Sony's official YouTube channel. As a result, the Ghostbusters teaser was dubiously dubbed the most disliked trailer ever. Now, long after the troll strike has subsided, Feig reflects on to best way to handle the menace of the social media age.
Just don't engage. Period. Think of what Michelle Obama said: "When they go low, we go high." Folks who spend their time spreading toxic negativity do not deserve an audience. They are not important, nor do they represent the majority of the people they claim to represent. You must put them in perspective.
As the hardcore Ghostbusters fans — the Ghostheads, as they wonderfully call themselves — told me over and over during the past two years, "They don't represent us — they just scream the loudest." So just tune them out. Do not feed the trolls!
A version of this story first appeared in the 2016 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.