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27th Sep 2022

Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin calls out the bigotry and racism within show’s fandom

April Curtin

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 29: Caleb McLaughlin attends the Entertainment Weekly's Breaking Big event during the 24th SCAD Savannah Film Festival on October 29, 2021 in Savannah, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

‘Even now, people don’t follow me or don’t support me because I’m Black’

Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin has called out the bigotry and racism he faces from some of the show’s fan, and explained how he is treated differently because he is Black.

McLaughlin, 20, quickly rose to stardom during his younger years, starring as Lucas Sinclair in season 1 of Netflix’s hit show from the age of 14. Sinclair continued to play one of the central roles throughout all four seasons, and with a much-anticipated final season to come, it doesn’t look like he will be disappearing from the spotlight anytime soon.

But despite his importance in the show, McLaughlin has recently opened up about how fans don’t give him the same level of support as they give his co-stars.

Speaking on stage at the Heroes Comic Con event in Belgium last weekend, McLaughlin said: “My very first Comic-Con, some people didn’t stand in my line because I was Black. Some people told me, ‘Oh, I didn’t want to be in your line because you were mean to Eleven’ [another central character played by Millie Bobby Brown].

“Even now, people don’t follow me or don’t support me because I’m Black.”

The actor continued: “Sometimes you’ll feel the racism, you’ll feel the bigotry. Sometime you can’t really […] it’s hard to talk about, and for people to understand.

“But when I was younger it definitely affected me a lot.”

Stranger Things

McLaughlin explained how, when he was starring in Stranger Things in his younger years, he would question why – out of all the main stars – he had the least amount of followers on social media.

He recalled how his parents explained “the sad truth” to him – that it was because he was “the Black child of the show”.

“But that’s why, with my platform, I’m going to spread positivity because I do not give hate back to people who give hate to me,” he added, before receiving a round of applause.

As of September 2022, Millie Bobby Brown who plays Eleven, Noah Schnapp who plays Will, Finn Wolfhard who plays Mike, and Gaten Matarazzo who plays Dustin, all have more followers than McLaughlin.

Stranger Things fans have also pointed out how one of the show’s villains, Billy Hargrove, has a dedicated fanbase, despite the character being racist towards Lucas.

As one person pointed out on Twitter: “Somehow.. this racist ugly disease infected dirty low down thing still has a big fanbase who call him ‘baby’ and write fanfictions about him despite the fact that he targeted Lucas simply because he was black.

“The stranger things fandom can go to hell.”

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