Twitter and the Celebrity Backlash
There are over 100 million people on Twitter including a countless number of celebrities, from some of the biggest stars and politicians in the world, to the smaller ones from reality shows or the Internet famous. No matter what the size of a star’s fanbase, a lot of celebrities have realized Twitter might actually not be the best platform for interaction or growing their brand.
What makes Twitter unique is that it allows for the most direct access versus any other Social Media platform. There’s definitely celebrities that post on Facebook and will sometimes answer questions, but Twitter has become the go to venue for instantaneous unfiltered access for fans. A lot of celebrities have remarked Twitter allows them to have their own voice outside of a Publicist or a PR sculpted format; it’s almost one of the only authentic forms of expression for people in the public eye and the least censored by the people managing their career.
Some people feel that celebrities should expect to get trolled or at least sarcastically harassed on Twitter, and it’s important to remember that expectations of fans change based on the way you interact with them. If you’re constantly giving your opinion about everything in the news or pop culture, then your fans will react in a similar manner. There’s also the idea that once you’re in the public eye you lose some portion of your privacy, and when that’s combined with a platform like Twitter, it can make even the most amiable celebrity an easy target.
The term “twitter beef” has also become a common concept where instead of being trolled by snarky fans, a celebrity will engage in a war of words with other celebrities. It takes place across all avenues of entertainment, but especially in the hip hop community, where brash comments and bravado go hand in hand on a platform like Twitter. One of the most interesting and comical Twitter beefs occurred last year between Fabolous and Ray J, which escalated from the Internet to a wildly comical and surreal radio interview, which was then perfectly referenced in a classic Rick Ross couplet on his track “You the Boss”.
There’s also a handful of instances where celebrities will get caught up in how free and open Twitter is and they’ll either decide to completely close their account or hand it over to their handlers for strictly promotional purposes. John Mayer, Alec Baldwin, and others have quit Twitter after their tweets led to subsequent scandals. It’s so instantaneous and such a direct form of expression it’s easy to forget that one snafu could become a worldwide trending topic by the next afternoon.
Another aspect of celebrities quitting Twitter is due to abuse from their followers. Sometimes amassing a huge number of followers comes with the requisite Internet trolls who are merely on there just to get a rise out of you or cause backlash. English comedy star Matt Lucas recently deleted his Twitter account after one of his followers tweeted an insensitive joke about the death of his co-star Kevin McGee. With the open and direct interaction also comes the negative aspect of too much access. Sometimes people get overly comfortable with celebrities because they’re so familiar with them, and when you throw in the anonymity of Internet, it can potentially lead to these situations.
Our culture has created an incessant need for celebrity gossip and Twitter is an up to the minute feed of the backstage minutia that enhances or detracts from the public’s perception of a celebrity. Instead of waiting for the weekly tabloid magazines you can find out what’s going on every hour, and sometimes even as it’s actually happening. As with all Social Media there are definitely pros and cons that come with each platform, but because of its unfiltered and direct nature, Twitter is a platform that doesn’t always benefit every celebrity.
Wall Street Journal