A Star Is Born, the much-hyped Lady Gaga film directed by Bradley Cooper, hits theaters Friday, but so does the comic-book flick Venom, leading to what Quartz calls "2018's weirdest social media campaign." That would be Gaga fans—aka her "Little Monsters"—penning scathing reviews of Venom, often under aliases, to "bend reality," per the Verge. "Okay, something is up," one suspicious commenter noted Tuesday, saying the Venom "negativity" seemed "artificial." (The tweet has since been deleted, but can be seen at BuzzFeed.) Quartz notes pro-Gaga bot activity has been used in the past, and one person confessed to BuzzFeed: "It's us Gaga fans creating fake IDs to trash the Venom premiere." Quartz compares such a campaign to Russian misinformation tactics used online during US elections. A common type of fake user pushing the Gaga narrative: what the site calls the "wholesome, middle-aged white suburban [woman]" avatar.
"I saw #Venom last night and had to leave halfway through, my children wouldn't stop crying at how bad it was," a reviewer named "Anne" posted. Once "Anne" and her family switched to ASIB: "Now we are all crying, tears of amazement." BuzzFeed notes Tom Hardy's Spider-Man spinoff is getting "largely mixed" feedback, while ASIB reviews have been "overwhelmingly good," and there wouldn't seem to be much overlap between the films' most rabid fans—all of which could cause some head-scratching as to why Gaga fans are going to the trouble of trashing Venom. Quartz theorizes that Gaga fans may be threatened by Hardy's draw, and by the fact that Venom is predicted to bust the October box-office opening record set by 2013's Gravity and bring in about double what ASIB is expected to, per Variety. (Read more Lady Gaga stories.)