The Boys star Erin Moriarty feels “dehumanized” by sexist abuse online

The Boys is a subversive superhero show on Amazon Prime Video, one that’s grown in popularity every season. Homelander, a twisted take on Superman, has been the breakout character, but the show has a very solid ensemble cast, from the affable Hughie (Jack Quaid) to the sycophantic the Deep (Chace Crawford) to Starlight (Erin Moriarty), a superhero from the midwest who makes it big hoping to do good, but soon finds that the superhero business is deeply compromised, at best. She’s one of the most relatable, down-to-earth characters in the show.

Erin Moriarty has also blown up thanks to the role, but there have been pitfalls along the way. A fan of The Boys named butcherscanary recently wrote Medium article detailing some of the objectifying abuse directed at Moriarty, particularly on her Instagram. “Even bullying feels like too light a term when every post and pose is bombarded with hypercriticism and speculation, when you have to search out the good, or even just the neutral, because the negative is so cruelly overwhelming,” butcherscanary writes. “Whilst I’m sure her male colleagues have endured unjust criticism, the obsession with her looks and the extent of objectification is unmatched. Antony Starr has openly joked about having Homelander’s muscles built into the suit, but I’ve never seen a comment body shaming him for not having them himself.”

The harassment feels all the worse given the context of her role as Starlight on the show, a woman silenced and sexualised, treated like a celebrity canvas for others to project onto rather than a human being with her own thoughts and feelings. But Annie is fictional, and Erin is not. The torment doesn’t end for her when the credits start, because there is no switch off. No end or escape… It baffles me how sexist you have to be to treat someone like that, period, but also after consuming three seasons, twenty-four hours of television, that actively counters the very backward attitude you aim to uphold.

When it comes to online harassment of celebrities, it’s long been established that the most vitriol is reserved for women and people of color. The problem has become so well-known that Disney has started to prepare its cast members for online hate as part of the normal course of business, so while it sucks, I’m not at all surprised to hear that Moriarty has been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse.

Erin Moriarty feels “paralyzed” by online harassment

Moriarty shared the article on her Instagram, along with some words of thanks and insight into her own experienced:

I do feel silenced. I do feel dehumanized. I do feel paralyzed. I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into this role (over & over & over again), I’ve grown UP in this character’s shoes (*emphasis on grown up – we change & evolve mentally AND physically). So with that I say: a) thank you to @butcherscanary b) this does break my heart – I’ve opened up a vein for this role and this kind of trolling is exactly what this role (Annie) would speak out against and c) everyone’s going through their own battle(s); let’s not add to that. I will never intentionally (and ESPECIALLY) publicly add to yours. This has only strengthened my empathy muscle and to anyone who comes at me: I see you, I don’t hate you, I only empathize and forgive.

It can be discouraging to point out these kinds of abuses over and over again just to keep watching them recur. The only advice I’d give is that if you’re part of a fan community and see people popping off with dehumanizing nonsense, at least call it out, so people watching know that one can’t get away with saying abusive crap unchallenged. Until we collectively decide to jettison all social media into the sun for the good of humanity, that may be the best we can hope for.

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