Why QAnon Targeted the Creator of Hollywood’s ‘Black List’

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ON OCTOBER 18, 2018, film executive Franklin Leonard’s phone started vibrating and would not stop. His eyes grew wide as his screen filled up with Twitter alerts from strangers hurling vicious, baffling insults at him, hundreds of tweets at a time. He was a rent boy for billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, they said, or he ran the Muslim Brotherhood alongside Huma Abedin. Some said they were eager to see him killed.

Leonard was no stranger to threats: in 2005, he launched “The Black List,” an annual publication highlighting Hollywood’s most popular unproduced scripts. It drew attention to the then little-known screenplays that would become Oscar-winning movies like Spotlight, Argo, and Slumdog Millionaire. As his profile as a Hollywood tastemaker grew, Leonard periodically faced down a few furious screenwriters who felt he had snubbed their work, but he always got an apology in the end.

Leonard had never experienced anything like this Twitter storm before, though. It seemed this time, through no fault of his own, a large group of people on the internet had decided to try to destroy his life. But these weren’t failed screenwriters coming for him. Leonard had no idea at all why they had chosen him as their target.

“Clearly, somebody has this fixation on me,” Leonard thought.

Leonard quickly noted that the people attacking him on Twitter were all using the same hashtag, one he had never seen before: WWG1WGA. After a little online research, Leonard realized that the acronym meant he had become a target for QAnon, but he still had no idea why. He knew other Hollywood figures were harassed by QAnon. Thousands of believers on Twitter had mobbed model Chrissy Teigen and her husband, singer John Legend, convinced that they abused children in Satanic rituals. Tom Hanks, once the universal ideal of a nice guy, had been transformed by QAnon into a ghoul who drank children’s blood to keep up his boyish good looks.

Content retrieved from: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/will-sommer-trust-the-plan-qanon-excerpt-1234682927/.

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