This article was updated on 7/5/20.

While there has been a very vocal contingent of so-called The Last of Us Part 2 “fans” angry about Abby’s role in the game, some of that venom has spilled over into real life. The actress who plays Abby in the game, Laura Bailey, posted some screenshots of messages she’s been getting which include violent threats against herself and her family. Warning: Disturbing language:

It is both scary and bizarre, as most of the messages are acting like Bailey actually is Abby, the character she plays in the video game, and that the major character she kills is also real. Bailey, an actress, did not even have a role in writing her character, not that the writers should be threatened either, but this entire thing is both just awful and incredibly dumb.

One good thing that has come out of it, however, is a massive influx of support for Bailey, an fantastic actress who has voiced characters like Kait Diaz in Gears 5, Mary Jane in Spider-Man, Black Widow, Catwoman, Supergirl, Chun-Li, Akali, dozens and dozens and dozens of characters. Her initial harassment tweet has been retweeted 28,000 times, and she followed up with a thank you message for the support.

Abby has been a hated character by a contingent of people since before the game even launched when leaks revealed that (mild spoilers for very early in the game) she kills Joel, the impetus for the entire Ellie revenge storyline. But the point of the game is that you’re meant to empathize with Abby to some extent as you learn her story and spend a lot of time playing as her, a point that many seem to miss or reject. I personally really liked what they did with Abby by the end of the game (I wrote a whole article about it), and this kind of reaction is maddening to see.

Of course, this is not the first time something like this has happened. Actors and especially actresses are harassed about things their characters do all the time. I am especially reminded of what happened with Anna Gunn, the actress who played Skyler White in Breaking Bad who was savaged by fans for things her character did. It’s pretty much exactly what’s happening here.

But it is nice to see so much support coming out for Bailey. Before all this happened, there was a much more pleasant social media movement about Abby going on where women were posting “flexing” shots to counter complaints from men that Abby was “too unrealistically buff” in the game.

Bailey is a great actress and I hope the people who have made these threats are banned and investigated, if possible. We’ll see if more develops, but for now, it’s just another sad day in women getting harassed and threatened online for extremely stupid and awful reasons.

Update (7/5/20):

The story continues to develop as more and more industry figures voice support for Laura Bailey in the wake of these threats. Though there has been some pushback on the other side too. Yes, in the world we live in there are two sides in the “should a voice actress get death threats over things her character did?” issue.

But it’s mostly support, like we see here from Neil Druckmann, director of The Last of Us Part 2, who himself is no stranger to abuse from fans upset about how the game went:

And here’s Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Worldwide studios:

Ashley Johnson, voice of Ellie, Abby’s bitter rival in the game, also voiced her support for her real-life friend:

Outside the games industry, James Gunn expressed support for Bailey as well, in addition to dissecting the real problem with these kinds of conversations:

After writing about this, this is also what I’ve seen to a certain extent as well. While 95% of people stop and say “this is horrible and ridiculous,” there is that 5% who arrive and say something like “well Abby was terrible for X, Y and Z reasons.” Or I’ve even heard conspiracy theories about Bailey inventing these messages in order to gain support and push a narrative of “abusive gamers.” What an absolutely absurd, delusional notion. Almost as delusional as those who sent those messages in the first place, and that makes me genuinely concerned.

In the end, I hope Bailey can take away the support rather than the rage, but again, this is something that happens to many, many creatives in high profile properties, and women are often hit much harder than their male counterparts. This has to end, and spotlighting and stopping this kind of harassment is key to making that happen.

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