Leslie Jones Responds To The Backlash Over Her Ghostbusters Character

Photo: Gregory Pace/REX Shutterstock.
Yesterday, the much-anticipated Ghostbusters trailer was released. And while it made Kate McKinnon's character an instant meme, it also elicited questions about the role Leslie Jones is playing. Jones portrays MTA employee Patty Tolan. "You guys are really smart about this science stuff, but I know New York," she says in the trailer.

Since the trailer dropped, controversy arose surrounding Patty, with writers wondering if the movie was marginalizing and stereotyping the only Black member of the team. The Mary Sue's Maddy Myers wrote a post titled, "So…Why Is Patty the Only Non-Scientist in the New Ghostbusters?" In an article at Fusion, Akilah Hughes wrote: "It certainly looks like Leslie Jones’ character is the butt of the joke and playing the 'sassy Black woman' tropeagain." Jamilah Lemieux, Ebony's senior editor, wrote on Twitter: "Three white female scientists and a Black woman who works for the transit authority. I just yelled out a curse word in Starbucks."

But Jones is speaking out on behalf of her character. On Twitter, Jones posted a series of tweets recounting the words of support she she received from someone who works for the MTA. Jones wrote: "I received this from a MTA worker: Hey Leslie, thanks for being you. A question was asked by a news writer about your role on your new movie...I work for the MTA in that role as a Token Boof [sic] Clerk and I was happy to see my job, something whic[h] provides me with plenty of jokes, a great perspective on society, and a birds-eye view of horrible shit that I witness everyday on-screen. (I wished Leslie would have hooked me up...a joke.) [H]owever, the fact that my position as a clerk is the most abused by society, I feel this may give us a semblance of humanness. That's what I attempted in my one-woman show, 'Swipe This! My Life in Transit.'" Though Jones didn't name the person who wrote to her, comedian and MTA employee Joanna Briley was behind that show.

The comment continued: "I love my job and I enjoy engaging people with information infused with humor. Leslie is a comedian. She's a larger-than-life personality and it's the first thing we see, no matter what role she gets. As she grows, she will be able to tap into all her greatness. I am supporting this movie because I see me. I hope you receive all that's for you. You looked so cute in the uniform. Congrats, Sis. I'm proud."

Jones wondered why a "regular person" can't be a Ghostbuster and encouraged people to see the movie:
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In a New Yorker profile, Jones said that her part is "equal" to the other Ghostbusters. "It was like a superhero team, where each one has her own skill, but can’t use it without the others," she said.

Ghostbusters is out July 15.
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