Have a desire to share an honest opinion about HBO movies and television shows? Well, you better watch out as new reports reveal that its executives created a “troll army” to go after critics of their entertainment content.
According to Rolling Stone, HBO and Max executives Casey Bloys and Kathleen McCaffrey discussed creating a “secret army” through a series of text exchanges which includes having employees create fake X accounts to go after movie and television critics in an effort to manipulate audiences into liking their content.
The executives trolled “television critics with snarky responses from a fake Twitter account” and also “dropped pro-HBO comments on trade publication stories,” the outlet reports.
Rolling Stone obtained documents of the text exchanges through an ongoing lawsuit filed by former HBO staffer Sully Temori, who is suing the company over harassment and retaliation allegations.
Temori said that he created “fake online accounts to respond to critics,” according to the lawsuit. He alleges that McCaffrey approached him and said, “[Bloys] always texts me asking me to find friends to reply … is there a way to create a dummy account that can't be traced to us to do his bidding.”
According to screenshots, Temori weaponized the use of identity politics when responding to critics on dummy accounts.
Acting under the alias “Kelly Shepherd,” Temori responded to criticism of Joss Whedon's “The Nevers” by writing: “How shocking that two middle aged white men (you & Hale) are sh*tting on a show about women…….”
(Screenshot: Rolling Stone)
This report is published as skepticism grows that major studios are attempting to manipulate audiences into preferring their programs on purpose.
According to Bounding Into Comics, a Rotten Tomatoes critic admitted in 2019 that they give fake positive reviews in order to maintain access to the industry.
To maintain his access to celebrities and the studios, SyFy Wire's Dany Roth confessed in 2015 that he engaged in softball with film studios.
On how to maintain access to film studios, Roth said on a podcast: “Here's the actual reality. Here's where we actually are in the industry if you want to talk about quote access media. Every single person who wants to have access to things early, who wants to get access to things so that traffic is drawn to their site will on occasion. Everybody at this podcast, everybody in our industry occasionally has to play softball, and occasionally has to look the other way a little bit. Everybody has to do it.”
“To some degree everybody in our industry that is part of this quote on quote access media has to decide which battles they want to pick. Which of the ones where my voice is the one that has to get said,” Roth added.
In September, a PR firm called Bunker 15 was found to have allegedly been manipulating Rotten Tomatoes review scores to obtain higher ratings, the outlet reports.
Furthermore, actor Gina Carano, who was terminated from Star Wars' Mandalorian after posts critical of Covid responses and gender ideology, claimed that Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy collaborated with YouTube to remove critics of the company's films and television shows off the platform.
Carano wrote on X, “This is the part where KK demands any YouTubers get censored off of YouTube for sharing and laughing at this hilarious episode, she’ll have YouTube disable the thumbs down option because of the ratio she’ll receive, then she’ll have her publicist ghouls make sure Variety and Hollywood Reporter run hit pieces about the South Park creators and their families smearing their names through every useful idiot she has under her thumb who would sell their soul to work for Lucasfilm.”
“She'll activate her online mob to repeat that the South Park creators are racist, bigot, transphobes, and demand the South Park creators publicly apologize by only using words she approves of and finally she’ll demand they subject themselves to a re-education course of 45 people in the lbgtq community zoom call to sit there and listen of how badly they got their feelings hurt all over a little boop of a South Park episode,” she added. “But maybe just maybe the jig is up.”