Ever since the SAG-AFTRA strike ended, people have been wondering when Stranger Things season 5 would go into production. The show is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated releases and is expected to kick off principal photography on 8 January 2024. While this news was met with excitement at first, the show has been trending for all of the wrong reasons lately… Fans are currently calling for a straight-up boycott of the upcoming season, due to actions by cast member Noah Schnapp.
The 19-year-old actor became a global sensation for playing Will Byers in the Netflix science fiction horror series. Ever since then, his stardom has brought him legions of Instagram followers, a ton of magazine covers, brand partnerships, and of course, roles in other big pictures such as Hubie Halloween and The Tutor.
However, for the past few weeks, the star has found himself in the midst of controversy.
It all started on 11 October, when Schnapp came forward in support of Israel in the Israel-Hamas war by explaining that he posted a picture of a “young innocent girl” whose life was taken by Hamas during the 7 October attack on Israel. Shockingly, however, this tribute was met with hatred, insinuating that the killing was justified.
Schnapp, who identifies as Jewish, had his Bar Mitzvah in Israel. Furthermore, the actor has played several Jewish characters throughout his career. On his last visit to the country in July 2023, he also faced antisemitic abuse online after sharing multiple pictures of his travels on social media.
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“I was met with comments reading ‘no one cares free Palestine’ and ‘She deserves that, and every Israeli terrorist deserves that – Free Palestine’. I am outraged by the justification and celebration of the death of a young girl’s life. Have people lost their minds? STOP,” the actor stated in his Instagram post. “You either stand with Israel or you stand with terrorism. It shouldn’t be a difficult choice. Shame on you,” he concluded his statement. Anticipating a lot of polarising responses, the actor disabled the comments section of his post.
Nevertheless, the weeks following the release of this statement have marked a notable downward trajectory for Schnapp, to say the least. Then, on Monday 13 November, the young actor was filmed handing out stickers that say “Zionism is Sexy” and “Hamas is Isis.”
For the last 50 years, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, has resulted in systematic human rights violations against Palestinians living there, drawing significant international criticism. It is part of a highly complicated geopolitical conflict that has made it to the global stage after the Islamist militant group Hamas launched a widespread attack on Israel on 7 October. It was described as the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. In response, Israel launched a heavy bombardment on the Gaza Strip that has claimed the lives of over 11,000 civilians, as of 13 November, and led to international calls for a humanitarian ceasefire.
Due to the polarising nature of this war, it is important for public figures to treat it with a high amount of sensitivity and to refrain from making statements that are divisive and intensify the ongoing online hatred, confusion and derision. However, it seems like Schnapp did not get that memo in time…
His actions have been met with a high amount of valid criticism, but also calls for bullying and homophobic abuse—Schnapp came out as gay in January 2023.
Many are stating that the actor is pro-genocide and are calling on the producers of the show to fire him, as well as for audiences to boycott the upcoming season of Stranger Things.
While the criticism of Schnapp’s statements within the video is justified, the calls for abuse and violence against a teenager are inappropriate and highly disturbing. They reflect a very sinister wave of antisemitism and Islamophobia that has affected people related to the conflict worldwide and placed their safety at risk.
As of today, Schnapp has not responded to the ongoing backlash.