There was a time not too long ago when people – from small children to adults – could look at some celebrities and public figures as role models. Or they could simply be awed by the power, fame, wealth, and talents of various celebrities. Someone like Babe Ruth or The Beatles were, like, not even human. They were gods living on a separate plane of existence above mere mortals. Rock stars, Hollywood icons, powerful elected officials, titans of industry, professional athletes…all of these people formed an elite to which us common people implicitly understood we did not belong. They were special.

Then someone invented Twitter. And now we know exactly how banal, ordinary, and flat-out stupid most of these people are.

Twitter has eliminated the wall between the famous and the ordinary, allowing anyone with an internet connection to broadcast their unfiltered thoughts to anyone interested in reading them. The results are occasionally interesting but more often (and more predictably) a train wreck. Aside from the fact that most of them sound quite shallow and dumb, these social networking tools give us a glimpse of just how boring and unexciting the daily lives of the rich and famous are. Oh, look, LeBron James is tweeting about going shopping. Can you imagine Mickey Mantle going shopping? Mickey Mantle doesn't shop! He's Mickey Fucking Mantle! He hits home runs and does things no mortal can do! He probably fell to Earth during a meteor shower or something!

Of course the lives of Mr. Mantle and his fellow celebrities were every bit as dull then as they are today. The only difference is that fifty years ago you didn't hear, read about, or see Mickey Mantle going to a grocery store. You didn't get hourly updates from John Wayne as he waited around in airports. You didn't realize that Greta Garbo was a horrible person who bitched all day about how much her domestic servants suck. An individual could plausibly make these celebrities seem special, unique, and exciting. It allowed us to make role models or idols out of lousy people. I doubt that's a good thing, but there is something lamentable about the fact that Twitter has ruined the idea of the aloof, glamorous celebrity. It was nice when people could choose to pretend, if so inclined, that their favorite athletes and movie stars were special people or role models. Now we are constantly smacked in the face, 140 characters at a time, with the undeniable realization that they're mostly dolts with remarkably mundane lives who write at approximately a 4th grade proficiency level.

Without making a positive value judgment on the concept of celebrity, I don't think this is a positive. Suffice it to say that many of you who were young in the 1960s would probably have felt differently about The Beatles if, like today's musicians, they posted 15 daily updates for public consumption about how they're chilling in the studio and playing some PS3. Maybe there is some minute value in preventing reality from intruding on everything.

(PS: this site has a running gallery of ridiculous things that famous people tweet and the delightfully smart-assed responses.)

31 thoughts on “NPF: DEMYSTIFICATION”

  • Twitter has also served to show us how absolutely brain-free the news channels are. If one more motherfucker on the TV reads me twitter posts or shows a youtube video, I'm going to light myself on fire outside CNN headquarters.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    You seem mightily upset that twitter woke you up from your smoked infused celebrity dream. We all are fuck ups and this means ALL. It was always this way. Obama was elected by people expecting the Messiah. When told otherwise they cursed you and ridiculed you. Now they are gagging on it.

    Emotions are great when parents, lovers, kids, family and friends are concerned. In other cases Mickey Mantle was a great baseball play and a drunk.

    There are some good twits.

  • There's no requirement that famous people use twitter.

    I'll bet Clint Eastwood doesn't. Nor Joanne Woodward. Nor would Spencer Tracy or Paul Newman — people with class — if they were stil alive.

    Similarly, there's no requirement that anyone follow the unconsidered emissions of those who _do_ use twitter.

    I think twitter is to the naughts as CB radio was to the 1970s.

  • @Middle Seaman

    I never used the term "messiah" to describe Obama.

    I think it was more like "Better than the traveling freak-show that a McCain/Palin administration would be" and I still stand by that.

  • I miss the time when it took so much effort to have a person pay attention to you that 90% of the time the effort was simply too much – the other 10% of the time resulted in comments of some real substance… sometimes.

  • I want to disagree and insist that it's good that celebrities are being humanized, but then i think about when i saw John Cusack's Twitter. My god. Douchey AND the worst speller imaginable. I'm not even a girl and my crush on Lloyd Dobler was forever tainted.

  • The Beatles, you say? Twitter is the world's biggest circle jerk. I hear john, at least, was quite fond of those…

  • Just my opinion, but I don't see anything good about pretending that celebrities are other than fallible people like anyone else.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    If it's called "Twitter," not "Tweeter," why are the individual messages called "tweet's" and not the more appropriate "twit's?"


    Never mind…

  • The only people who keep insisting Obama is the Messiah are brainless right-wingers. The rest of us looked at the alternative–the crazy old man and the batshit-crazy screechy loon–and realized if the USA was going to continue to exist, we had to go with the only sane choice.

  • This got me thinking as to which celebrities who'd have Twitters worth following: Benjamin Franklin. Voltaire. Samuel Johnson. Montaigne. Ambrose Bierce. Oscar Wilde. Dorothy Parker.

    Maybe we're just getting tweeted by the wrong people. Of course, the right people would never put their hands on the silly, filthy thing.

  • Twitter, aside from being a great writing exercise for comedians, is pure crack rock for thin-skinned egomaniacs of all stripes.

    It used to be that, for a price, anything could be buried. Between social networking and the 24-hour "news" cycle of Perez Hilton and TMZ, being a Hollywood agent must suck now.

  • I read Ball Four at a young, impressionable age. I also read contemporaries' accounts of Ruth, Cobb, etc., etc. I suppose that made it easier to come to terms with the idea that John Wayne was a selfish, unpatriotic egoist (to take a single example) instead of a heroic, super-patriot. I still enjoy his movies (most of them, anyway), and I still manage to separate the actor from the role with virtual 80% confidence. Sure, celebrities are often vain, unattractive dolts and loons. So? Personally, I don't care that much, since I'm highly unlikely to ever meet one. I just enjoy the image and don't worry about the skull beneath the skin. Also, I bet some of them are surprisingly decent, much like basically the rest of the human population. Years of working in the Boy Scouts showed me that about 10% of people are unbelievable scum, about 5% are really pretty nice, and everybody else is a Greek Salad – the lettuce and the dressing are great, but the olives and feta cheese are pretty awful. Be like Earl Weaver – try not to put yourself into a position where their weaknesses will hurt you. Also, I highly recommend Never Mind the Buzzcocks for your viewing pleasure (especially the first 18 seasons).

  • What's especially ironic is that most of those smartass responses to celebrity tweets were actually written by other celebrities, albeit of a lesser variety.

  • This got me thinking as to which celebrities who'd have Twitters worth following: Benjamin Franklin. Voltaire. Samuel Johnson. Montaigne. Ambrose Bierce. Oscar Wilde. Dorothy Parker.

    @BenjaminFranklin: Discovered today gout is the new black. Gallic chicks rule!!

    @Voltaire: Invented lait caffe to complement caffe latte. Getting ready for dinner with Cosmo Kramer and Starbucks CEO.

    @Montaigne: Ever notice whenever we mix fresh herbs and put dressing on them, we call it "salad"? Fascinating.

    @OscarWilde: I'm so clever, it's not even funny. Except it is!! haha.

    @DorothyParker: Used the chamber pot as a symbolic representation of CBL to express my feelings. Made great progress!

  • @ Amused: Thank you. When I rattled off that list, I considered offering samples of what their tweets might read like. But I hadn't had my coffee yet; thank you for being the abler hand at this one.

    Upon reflection, I rather think that the tweets I'd most like to read would be from the truly batshit Roman emperors: "Made my horse a senator today! Watch where you step during debates, toga-boys! lol!"

  • This is a process that has been going on for a long time, at least 150 years, although one assumes not specifically thanks to twitter. I've read that one of the problems of trying to sustain absolute monarchy in Europe (particularly in Russia) around the turn of the 20th century was that the spread of rail, newspapers, and literacy closed the gap and made the monarchs in some sense more accessible to the people and reduced the glamor of what we would call their cult of personality. This was particularly so since a lot of modern propaganda techniques would come out of the '20s and '30s (from, say, John Watson and Joseph Goebbels).

    Once the mask was down, it was more feasible for people to conceive of demanding redress of grievances as something that could actually be accomplished. The Tsar might still have had clothes, but they weren't the flawless gold and silk everyone was meant to see. Or so I have read.

  • I like that twitter has humanized a large portion of the celebs and powerful people these days. Everyone should have a nice serving of humble pie now and then, even if that serving comes from their own hands.

  • I want to disagree and insist that it's good that celebrities are being humanized, but then i think about when i saw John Cusack's Twitter. My god. Douchey AND the worst speller imaginable. I'm not even a girl and my crush on Lloyd Dobler was forever tainted.

    Like Pandora, I had to go and open the box.

  • Can't imagine what kind of narcissism is necessary to imagine that anyone would care about the details of one's day. Don't use Twitter, don't follow Twitter, don't care.

    Also, to second, or third, several comments above: no one I know, who voted for Obama, imagined that he was any kind of Messiah. Just better than the alternative. Still think so. Sarah Palin, one 74-year-old heartbeat from the Presidency? Please.

    The Messiah meme is a Republican hallucination.

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