This time was supposed to be different. After a curiously miscast Topher Grace soured fans on Venom’s big-screen debut in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, Sony rebooted the character and cast Tom Hardy (Tom Hardy!) in the role for this Friday’s solo symbiote movie. The movie is the launch of a brand-new franchise for the studio, with Hardy signed up for three installments in total. 

And the result—well, apparently this second go-around isn’t much better than Eric Forman’s attempt over a decade ago. 

When the review embargo on Venom lifted this week, the movie was slammed by critics as being a near-mess of so-bad-it’s-almost-good proportions, punctuated by some choice reactions from critics that might be better than the movie itself:

So those are the professional reviews—brutal, right? Well the story takes a turn to the absurd, because as the social media reactions started coming in from average viewers, people noticed two things: many of them were overwhelmingly negative and there seemed to be a disproportionate number of Lady Gaga fans ripping the movie.

What’s the connection? Well Gaga is one of the leads in this Friday’s A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper, which is in direct competition with Venom for your box office dollars. These bot-tastic reactions all use similar language, and some are outright copy-and-paste jobs pointing people away from Marvel’s Lethal Protector and towards the loving embrace of Gaga and company. Here are some of the reactions that eagle-eyed fans collected:

The conspiracy theory is plain: Lady Gaga fans, so loyal to the cause, put together an attack on Venom in order to get more people to see A Star Is Born this weekend, resulting in more money and a slightly larger mansion for Gaga in the process.

It might sound far-fetched, but we’re not 72 hours removed from a study stating that Russian trolls put together a coordinated campaign to sow discourse in the United States by creating controversy over Star Wars: The Last Jedi reviews. So don’t think that a ragtag group of guerilla Gaga fanatics are above this type of behavior. 

So according to the current state of social media, Venom is either 1.) a mess of Catwoman proportions 2.) a fascinating misfire that needs to be watched as a car crash-y curiosity or 3.) the victim of Big Gaga™ and her loyalists.

[h/t ComicBookMovie]