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Stranger Things star calls out ‘ridiculous’ harassment online and IRL

‘Y’all know who you are’

Stranger Things 2 - Mike Wheeler at the Snow Ball
Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler in Stranger Things 2.

Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard has spoken out over the harassment he’s faced on Twitter and Instagram in recent days, saying that he doesn’t want to spurn any fans but that he won’t stand by while people harass him and his friends.

Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler on the Netflix hit and also appeared in this year’s It, has been dealing with attacks from displeased fans on Twitter in the last few days. The comments stemmed from a video that called out Wolfhard for not stopping to take a picture with a fan while walking from a car into a hotel. The person who tweeted the initial attack recently made his account private, but the footage can be seen in the YouTube video below.

The initial response to the tweet condemned Wolfhard as well as the fan, but once the tweet started to spread across the platform, the reaction overwhelmingly leaned toward criticizing the fan’s treatment of the actor.

The harassment Wolfhard faced didn’t stop there, though. On Oct. 30, model Ali Michael, who is 27, posted an Instagram story featuring Wolfhard’s face, telling the 14-year-old actor to him to “hit me up” once he turned 18.

Reaction to the Instagram video fluctuated between attaboys for Wolfhard from some people and condemnation from others. Many people pointed out that if the roles were reversed — if Wolfhard were a 27-year-old actor posting a similar message toward a 14-year-old girl — it would be downright creepy.

Michael apologized for the video two days later, saying she only meant it as a joke. In a statement to Teen Vogue, Michael said it was never her intention to “sexualize a minor in any way shape or form.” The full statement can be read below.

On October 30th, I posted an Instagram Story with a photo of Finn Wolford who plays “Mike” in Stranger Things asking him to, "call me in four years."

The general nature of my social media platforms is often one of humor, sarcasm and playful self-deprecation. I often quote, post and publicly respond to music videos, films, documentaries and television shows in a frank and candid manner. The nature of my posts in response to television and media are always tongue-in-cheek and never intended to mislead or upset anyone. In the past, I have asked fictitious characters of films to call me (namely Edward Scissorhands and Simba from the Lion King). In this instance, it has become clear to me that asking a character “to call in four years” and inappropriately tagging the underage actor who plays the character (Mike) was upsetting, suggestive and concerning for my audience.

It was never my intention (nor has it ever been) to sexualize a minor in any way shape or form. To those I offended or misled, I apologize for a post made in haste and lacking in sensitivity, particularly considering the landscape of the present culture.

Wolfhard later told TMZ that he found Michael’s video “gross,” and was glad to hear that she apologized for the post.

After everything Wolfhard went through, his fellow cast members — and friends from other shows, including Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner — weighed in, defending him and asking people to stop sending cruel messages.

Shannon Purser tweets about Finn Wolfhard
Shannon Purser, who plays Barb on Stranger Things, tweeting about Wolfhard.
Shannon Purser/Twitter
Sophie Turner’s tweets about Finn Wolfhard
Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa on Game of Thrones, is a friend of Wolfhard’s.
Sophie Turner/Twitter

A fundamental flaw of social media is a lack of awareness over how humans treat the freedom to interact when given a democratic platform to voice their opinions.

Harassment on social media isn’t situational; it’s everywhere. It can happen to anyone, but there are certain people who are at risk of being attacked more often; women, people of color and queer folk will be the first to tell you this. If you’re a high-profile Twitter user, like a celebrity or public figure, the chances of someone taking a swing at you online are far greater. When every moment of your life is tracked, both in real life and through social media, harassment isn’t just likely; it’s inevitable.

Harassment of this nature affects almost every celebrity — just take a glance at Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter account every once in a while. This case is far more severe because children are being targeted. The teenage cast of Stranger Things is still learning how to navigate celebrity, maintain online personas and act as public figures who have fans waiting outside their hotels for a photo op.

That’s the important thing to remember: Harassment on social media isn’t new, but it’s immediately more alarming when kids are involved.

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