Why Is a Real Housewives Fan Army Sending Racist Death Threats to Garcelle Beauvais’ Son?

Bravo
Bravo

UPDATE: Both Bravo and Diana Jenkins have responded condemning these attacks.

In a potentially unprecedented move, Bravo and every member of its cast have commented in agreement about show-related drama.

What the hell is going on in Beverly Hills?

(Who is responsible is another matter in which hushed tones are preferred.)

Not on television, necessarily (although I have some questions).

But the social media storm surrounding this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has hit a spectacular new low, after a targeted bot campaign attacked a cast member's young child.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Instagram Screenshot</div>
Instagram Screenshot

Let’s back up a bit. Tension has been brewing on the show—and online—between Beverly Hills Housewife Garcelle Beauvais, a vocal and celebrated fan favorite of the show’s passionate audience, and…nearly everyone else in her cast. Lisa Rinna suggested that fans of Beauvais were using race to evade criticism aimed at her by other cast members (Rinna and several other veterans of the show refer to themselves as the Fox Force), for which she later apologized.

Erika Girardi (see also: Jayne) suggested on Bravo’s after show YouTube series that Beauvais had been insincere in asking questions about her drinking and out-of-control behavior, and was actually seeking revenge after Girardi suggested her married son Oliver consider a threesome, and cursed at her 14-year-old child, Jax. Dorit Kemsley agreed.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Lester Cohen/Getty Images</div>
Lester Cohen/Getty Images

And there’s Sanela Diana Jenkins, who on last week’s episode said that Beauvais was the most guarded person in the cast, while Rinna replied that Beauvais was too “afraid” to hear Jenkins’ critique. Jenkins, a new Housewife whose Q score may have to be measured with a stethoscope after a wildly unpopular inaugural season on the show, posted repeatedly against Beauvais over the last week on Instagram. One such post: “Life is a long time and I do play a long game. This is not the face of someone that will get pushed around. Ever! Game on B*%H*!”

She also posted over the weekend that Beauvais had been unempathetic about Jenkins’ recent miscarriage, which was discussed on the show. Jenkins said Beauvais, a “fan favorite” (on only this, we agree), could get away with anything.

“Go on trolls,” she closed. “Do your worst.”

And someone did.

Seemingly out of nowhere, beginning on Monday night, a flood of Instagram comments appeared on the Instagram account of Beauvais’ young son, Jax. Nasty, crude, and identical comments flooded in, saying that Beauvais had no right to criticize Girardi’s drinking “when your older brother was a drug addict,” accusing Beauvais of being the reason her talk show The Real was recently canceled, and telling Jax Beauvais was “desperate,” a “fame chaser,” a “hypocrite”: “Tell your mom to leave Erika, Lisa Rinna, and Diana alone.”

<div class="inline-image__credit">Instagram Screenshot</div>
Instagram Screenshot

What looked like a sudden and confusing way for Diana supporters (lol) to defend their icon became clearer as the Bravo community looked into the accounts behind these comments. Creators including @FaceReality16, @BravoBravoDuckingBravo, @BravoHistorian, @TheTalkOfShame, and, myself, posted receipts showing that the individual accounts—which featured avatars of young, attractive, white women—were actually bots.

Potentially using the services of a bot farm, they seemed to be purchased for a campaign aimed squarely at Jax. Someone coordinated an online attack against a child, using comments vocally supportive of Rinna, Girardi, and especially Jenkins that parroted critiques about Beauvais by those same members of the cast.

Who would do such a thing? And why?

Beauvais posted on social media pleading for her children to be kept separate from online battles, noting that she spent the night crying, and several members of the cast—Rinna, Kemsley, Crystal Kung Minkoff, Sutton Stracke, Kathy Hilton, and Kyle Richards—joined in support of Beauvais’ son, posting on social media that children should be kept off limits.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Instagram Screenshot</div>
Instagram Screenshot

And then things got even worse, as comments on Jax’s Instagram included death threats. He re-shared an especially sinister comment, suggesting that Jax would “have your neck kneeled on it if it weren’t for your white daddy. Tell your mom to leave Diana alone or you’ll deal with us.”

And not even a death threat seemingly made in her honor inspired Jenkins to speak out.

On Wednesday night, hours after the story had been circulating, Jenkins acknowledged the comments and shared Bravo's post.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Instagram Screenshot</div>
Instagram Screenshot

Some viewers have hypothesized that the campaign was a crude way to upset Beauvais enough to hasten an exit from the show. A fan theory is that the crumbling empire of the Fox Force, including one of its newest members, is threatened by Beauvais’ popularity with the audience and her seeming unwillingness to engage in negative storylines about cast member Sutton Stracke. Because Beauvais wouldn’t fall in line with the Fox Force, the accounts went after what’s most precious to her: her vulnerable child.

While Girardi and Jenkins have remained selectively silent—as has the network—Garcelle shared an update from Jax on her Instagram stories today, thanking supporters, and once again stressing that he is a child, not a fully matured adult, who should not be treated like a member of the cast.

As Jax noted, “middle aged women spamming me with racist and crude comments about my family is not what I expected for my first week of high school.”

<div class="inline-image__credit">Instagram Screenshot</div>
Instagram Screenshot

It’s a disturbing new low for the franchise and its participants: women who are not exactly known for coming “from a place of love.” While children of Housewives have received negative comments online—including Portia Umansky, Richards’ teenage daughter—there has never been what appears to be a bot farm procured to attack a cast member’s child, under the guise of defending specific other members of the cast.

It’s also the second time this season that Jax himself said he was violated and traumatized due to the show. He’s a child whose very innocence, age, and race, have been weaponized against him. He has been treated as a vessel in service of revenge, and certainly not with the same measure of decency afforded to children of other Housewives in the cast.

Diana has continued posting on social media, sharing more birthday greetings on Instagram stories, and posting in support of Ukraine. She has continued to delete numerous negative comments referencing Jax.

Jenkins thanked her family for the “best birthday ever” this afternoon.

One can’t help but wonder if she got her wish.

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