American actress and filmmaker Olivia Wilde appears at the Venice International Film Festival on September 5th, 2022. (Photo by Marilla Sicilia / Archivio Marilla Sicilia / Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
For weeks, celebrity gossip about Olivia Wilde and her sophomore directorial project, Don’t Worry Darling, has flooded social media.
People have a laundry list of complaints. Some have “investigated” whether she cheated on ex Jason Sudeikis with her beau Harry Styles, and pitted her against the star of the film, Florence Pugh. Others claimed that Pugh felt ignored on set by Wilde, who instead was distracted by Styles. There are also rumors that Wilde mishandled Shia LaBeouf’s departure from the film, and that Pugh has tried to distance herself from the attention the movie’s sex scenes have garnered.
Now, rabbit holes abound: headlines speculate that Styles and Wilde have split, while countless videos on social media dissect interactions between Wilde and her cast. Did Pugh and Wilde avoid each other at the film’s Venice premier? Why weren’t Wilde and Styles sitting next to each other? And bizarrely, did Styles spit on Chris Pine?
The gossip amounts to a tangled hot mess of memes that are hard to follow and force yet another woman in Hollywood to bear the brunt of sexist double standards. And—because of course—the far-right is involved too.
Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, told VICE News in an email that it tracked posts about Wilde and found that since August 23, posts about Wilde and related topics on right-leaning Facebook pages have generated the most interactions. “Right-leaning pages have posted over 300 times about Wilde and the movie, earning over 200,000 interactions,” Media Matters said.
Right-wing sites include The Daily Wire, Breitbart, and social media platforms like Gab, Rumble, and Telegram. Terms like “commie whore,” “Hollywood harlot,” and “bimbo” have been used to describe Wilde.
And while 200,000 interactions may not seem like a lot, “right-wing outlets like The Daily Wire appear to be exploiting this situation to get more engagement on social media,” said Pam Vogel, a Senior Advisor with Media Matters. “We’ve observed that right-wing media, really all media, are eager for the downfall of women who are outspoken on progressive issues.”
Experts say the way Wilde is being dragged and taunted is somewhat reminiscent of the hateful social media treatment Amber Heard received during the multimillion defamation trial between her and ex-husband Johnny Depp.
VICE News previously reported how Heard suffered countless death threats and other attacks throughout the trial, with one Twitter analytics firm saying the hate amounted to “one of the worst cases of platform manipulation and flagrant abuse from a group of Twitter accounts.” VICE World News also uncovered that far-right site The Daily Wire spent thousands of dollars promoting anti-Heard content.