John

Britney, Ashton and Porn Stars: Welcome to the Twitter Age of Celebrity

In Celebrity, Online on February 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

aplusk

There was always talk that one day, Twitter would “break”. There was always talk that one day, when the celebrities come on board, that the microblog that could would be too big for its own good.

“Oh, wait till Britney comes over. Wait ’till Paris comes on board. Then we’ll see how it goes. Will it survive then?” was a question often asked by the panelists on the TWiT podcast. This was back in the day when the Fail Whale happened every other week, when 100,000 followers was a singular anomaly, when Internet superstars like Kevin Rose, Leo Laporte and Robert Scoble were vying for a top three position.

Three years on since Twitter was launched, the stars have signed on, and the result is a surprising whimper rather than the big bang-crash. Britney Spears has tweeted in, so has Ashton Kutcher (aplusk) and Demi Moore (mrskutcher). Porn stars have started jumping on it too, but that’s not much of a surprise if you follow the idea that porn is often at the forefront of driving innovation. Paris has yet to report in, but if Twitter is going the way of Facebook, it’s only a matter of time before she tweets in.

So the time has arrived, and Twitter has yet to be “broken”. Why not? To begin with, I’m not sure if celebrities are worth following–if anything else, watching their feeds just exposes how dull their day-to-day lives are. Here’s a few choice tweets coming from Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore:

Why do those candy hearts with sayings on them taste so bad. Can’t they put words on good candy, like skittles or starburst “be mine” – aplusk.

“Snow is cold! (self)Thank you captain obvious. Shabbat shalom. sharing the bore pre hagefen with my man BW” – aplusk

“On a romantic getaway with my adorable hubby the ex and his great gal emma!”– mrskutcher.

Okay, so the last tweet from Demi was mildly interesting, but then again, most of the world knows what kind of screwy arrangement is going on in that family. For the big ironic laughs, you should see what some pornstars have been tweeting about–they rank as the most mundane tweeterers, more so because slobbering fanboys expect something more — how shall we say — work-related. What you’ll get instead is something less salacious, like this from Stoya (don’t ask me how I know of her. I just do):

“Saki is not supposed to be warm. It is supposed to be cold. Wtf.”

And what about this hard-hitter: “*grumble grumble* I’d rather be in sneakers at a diiiiiiive bar”.

You can almost hear yourself yawn.


What this social experimentation with Twitter shows is that pop culture is heading into a new hyper-Warholic 15-minutes-of-fame direction; one that is presented in all shades of beige. Sure, it’s cute and personal, but it’s not something that would cause a burst of new Twitterers that would hasten the return of the Fail Whale.

In fact, the only time when celebrity tweets were at its most interesting was when several celebrity accounts were hacked, among which were CNN’s Rick Sanchez: “‘I am high on crack right now, might not be coming into work today.” Britney’s was more entertaining, but rather unpublishable (it’s just a google search away, folks).

While it’s true that Twitter is what you make of it, according to NYT’s David Pogue, celebrities like Ashton and Britney (last tweet: “Spending a rainy day with my boys watching movies. They are really into Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar 2.”) can’t figure out how to make their microblogs interesting. They can’t bitch about their director, tweet about how their last date went (“omg. Justin’s like soo lame =( “), or write about what the hell they did when they were drunk last weekend. So they end up tweeting about their last cheese sandwich (“OMG! awesome!”)

Already trained by their PR-gurus over the years, celebrities have learned to self-censor themselves to boredome. When Andy Warhol said “everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame”, predicting the banality of celebrity culture, I don’t think he knew how far-reaching that statement would be in the 21st century.

That being said, Twitter’s deconstruction of the pop-culture priesthood is leading us into a new world of how we perceive and communicate with celebrity. Even I can send a message directly to Ashton (yes, we’re on a first name basis these days) by simply writing @aplusk, though whether he answers me back is another matter altogether–that’s a far cry from the day when I used to write physical fan mail to Helen Hunt and Gillian Anderson (true story. Only Gillian replied.) The knowledge that you can bypass the PR-folk directly into their lives is something that wouldn’t have been possible before Twitter.

To their credit,  some of these celebrities (Britney excluded ‘cos she has a posse of writers handling her account), have actually gone out to respond to their @replies–an interesting pointer to how much further the line between celebrities and fans can be blurred.

And just how far can the microblog go in affecting pop-culture? There’s only a handful of twittering celebrities so far, and I doubt that CruiseControl or JenAniston would be signing up anytime soon. But from the way Chris “hey Facebook I’m Single!” Brown is working his social networking profile, it looks as if celebrities will finally get around to using their microblogging tools in more exciting ways. Give it another five years–if Twitter’s still around, it’s gonna be real interesting to see how this pans out.

Until then, stay tuned and stay bored.

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  1. Incredible story there. Whaat happened after?
    Thanks!

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