A Toronto-based freelance writer has been talking to Ariana Grande in DMs after the pop star's fans viciously attacked her for several days over her criticisms of the singer.
Roslyn Talusan, 27, told BuzzFeed News that while she was shocked to hear from Grande directly, and they've since apologized to each other, she also felt "victim-blamed and gaslit" by the singer's defense of her fans.
She's hoping Grande will be less "passive" about how her fans act on her behalf — and take a firmer stance against abusive online behavior.
"Except for when they were harassing Pete Davidson, she consistently remains passive as her stans viciously attack non-celebrities," said Talusan. "It’s become a pattern of hers and it’s harmful considering how she positions herself as being an advocate for equality, vocal feminist, and [2SLGBTQ+] ally."
The attacks came after Talusan responded pretty harshly to Grande last Wednesday for a series of tweets aimed at people who work at "them blogs."
"You fucking realize bloggers/writers are creators, right? just because we don’t sing or dance shitty choreo or culturally appropriate for profit doesn’t make our craft any less valid. suck on my balls," Talusan wrote on Twitter.
She was responding to Grande's now-deleted tweet calling critics "so lost," "unfulfilled," and "purposeless."
Talusan continued to berate Grande in further tweets that called her "a spoiled white girl from boca" and a "bitchass."
This did not sit well with Grande's intensely loyal fanbase, known as "Arianators," who immediately ran to defend her.
Within hours, fan and stan accounts flooded Talusan's mentions with requests for her to "stop running her mouth" against Grande.
However, their messages quickly devolved into harassment, racist rhetoric, and violent threats to her life. Things took a dramatic downturn when the Arianators discovered an essay Talusan wrote for Playboy in March criticizing Grande's "ambiguous" performative identity, she said.
At multiple points throughout the persistent, weeklong harassment, fans used Talusan's own sexual assault against her. Talusan said she is an anti-rape activist and told BuzzFeed News the complex post-traumatic stress disorder she has was triggered several times.
One fan even doxed her home address in Toronto in a public tweet. Talusan documented the worst of the harassment in a thread.
Amid the initial wave of attacks, Talusan was surprised to see a direct message from the pop star herself in her Twitter inbox.
"I seriously thought I was hallucinating," she said.
Grande wrote that she found her "craft" and articles "extremely valid."
Talusan said she wrote back, apologizing for calling the singer names like "bitchass buzzard" and a "spoiled white girl from Boca." Grande apologized herself.
Talusan said she thought the conversation would end there, but she was even more shocked when the singer continued to write her over DM. The two then talked about their mental health journeys and suffering from PTSD.
"Grande kept DM'ing me to reassure me that she writes her songs and then about her PTSD. I made sure to validate her feelings, told her healing isn’t linear, and recommended a book," she said.
Talusan said she then took the opportunity to share screenshots of what her fans were sending her, and asked her to "get them to stop." She found Grande's response to that request, however, to be "completely unsatisfactory."
"they're just reacting with similar energy to what they've read honestly. Your tweets were hostile. they're upset and they're passionate," the singer wrote before apologizing "on their behalf" because she does not "love that type of behavior."
"She essentially victim-blamed and gaslit me," Talusan said in response to the message. "Grande dismissed it as her fans being 'upset and passionate,' who were reacting with 'similar energy' to my tweets."
"I’m aware that Ariana Grande can’t control all of her fans and followers," she added. "However, pretending like she has 0 influence over her stans is disingenuous and irresponsible."
Ariana Grande and her reps did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Recently, several celebrities — including Justin Bieber, Michael Che, Olivia Munn, Lizzo, and of course Grande — have all spoken out about media criticism they've received.
Talusan believes famous people should be more discerning about "constructive criticism."
"What some celebrities seem to not realize is that no reasonable person would ever throw big, public tantrums when faced with constructive criticism," she said. "Working-class people get a performance review at their jobs on a yearly basis, and it’s not a big deal. Imagine if we all went to the media whenever our boss passed us over for a promotion or a raise, or we didn’t get an A in a class. No one deserves abuse, but constructive feedback is not abuse."
She went on to say that by refusing to "denounce the racist, misogynist, transphobic, and otherwise violent harassment her stans have waged in her name," Grande is effectively and "implicitly condon[ing] it."
The reactions from big-name celebrities are "about protecting their fragile egos," she added.
"As more powerful and public figures react to honest and genuine critique by demanding silence and threatening violence, it seems as if celebrities consider themselves above human."