Being the daughter of an acclaimed director can come with a lot of perks, but it also opens you up to a whole lot of misdirected anger.
That's what happened to director Kevin Smith's 17-year-old daughter recently. An Instagram troll posted a profanity-filled comment on one of Harley Quinn Smith's photos on social media, calling her, among other things, "ugly" and a "cancer."
What the troll likely didn't expect, however, was for the director to personally take him to task. But, taking a different route, instead of feeding into the troll's anger, Smith attempted to turn it into an opportunity for encouragement.
"Even though I should be apoplectic about it, my kid thought it was funny," Smith wrote in a post on Facebook with a screenshot of the comment. "But here's a nickel's worth of free advice for folks like this Troll: if you hate me (or my kid) this much, the better use of your time is to make YOUR dreams come true, instead of slamming others for doing the same. The best revenge is living insanely well - so if you wanna get back at a 17 year old girl for the grievous crime of enjoying her life, the best way to do it is to succeed in your OWN existence. Show the world WHY we should be paying attention to you instead of anyone else."
Smith, who is directing Yoga Hosers, a film his daughter stars in, added:
You think you have something to offer the world but others are getting all the attention? Don't bitch or punish the world: just create. Create something nobody's ever seen before and there is a good chance the world will notice you. Attacking teen girls on the Internet is the saddest form of masturbation that exists and requires no discernible skill or talent. You want attention? Don't make yourself mad, make something original and fun. Because if you're not being useful in this world you're being useless.
Although Smith mentioned that his daughter thought it was funny, many young people are susceptible to the effects of online harassment. Some social media platforms have taken halting steps to limit hate speech on their sites, but it often takes high-profile, extreme incidences to prompt even the smallest of changes.
A few weeks ago, for example, Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones was the target of a horrific campaign of racist, sexist abuse on Twitter. Jones fought back with the help of fellow celebrity friends, and after many calls for Twitter to ban the reported instigator of the abuse, conservative reporter Milo Yiannopoulos, it ultimately did. But observers cautioned against taking it as a sign that Twitter is moving towards a policy that would better protect users from online abuse.
Which perhaps explains why so many people have taken it upon themselves to creatively tackle online harassment — including Smith, whose decision to enlighten instead of argue can hopefully change minds.