You know how you sometimes read something which prompts the reaction "No shit, Sherlock"? Well, I had one such experience over the weekend whilst reading a Twitter conversation between several people I neither know nor follow. I suppose I should elaborate a bit here - I often poke around Twitter, monitoring random conversations. It can be quite enlightening. Indeed, it is far better than actually following a whole bunch of people who you just know will, on a day-to-day basis, clutter your timeline up with the boring minutiae of their lives. So I just skim the highlights from their accounts. Besides, these are invariably people who irritate me intensely with their pretentiousness but who, nevertheless, still exert a terrible fascination over me. If nothing else, following their conversations helps reassure me that I'm not
a pretentious bore. Anyway, getting back to the matter in hand, this particular conversation involved a bunch of these people I don't follow bitching about how rude and dismissive of non-celebrity tweeters some celebrity tweeters were. They seemed shocked by the fact that these celebrities want to use Twitter to promote their products to their followers, but didn't want to treat them as equals, either ignoring their comments or, if they had the audacity to be critical, being abusive to them and blocking them. This is where I had the 'No shit, Sherlock" moment. I mean, the clue here is in the way Twitter is structured - you are a follower
of these people, like the follower of a cult, you are of no individual interest to the godhead you follow. They have no interest in you as an individual, you are just meant to passively hang on their every profound announcement and boost their egos by adding to their 'followed by' statistics.
The fact is that the only people celebrity tweeters want to talk to on Twitter are other celebrities. Ricky Gervais' first take on celebrities with Twitter accounts - they just wanted to show off by having public conversations with each other - was spot on. Celebrity is an exclusive club - once people have achieved it, they don't want to have to deal with the great unwashed any more. Who can blame them? They've undoubtedly had to humiliate and compromise themselves over and over again in order to gain celebrity status. Besides, they are keenly aware of the fact that the only reason that non-celebrities want to get close to them is in the hope of finding some way into the world of celebrity themselves. Even some reflected glory from the fact of having tweeted a real celebrity is often enough. Consequently, the only people they can trust are other celebrities - only they can understand the tribulations of being a celebrity and are guaranteed not to be trying to 'steal' some of their celebrity 'aura'. Why else do you think the world of celebrity is so incestuous? Haven't you noticed how only celebrities are allowed to go out with, marry and impregnate other celebrities? Ordinary mortals are not welcome on their Mount Olympus - their place is to worship from below. In the course of the conversation I was reading, the term 'feudal' was used to describe the relationship between celebrities and non-celebrities on Twitter. Well, not quite feudal, I'd say. After all, we're not indentured to these celebrities and have a choice as to whether we follow them or not.
However, they are rather like the old feudal aristocracy, in that they mostly hold their 'positions' as a result of patronage and accident of birth. Well, not quite 'accident of birth', but rather by being in the right place at the right time. Because that's the reality of modern celebrity - no matter how talented you might be in a particular area of entertainment, you still need to be 'discovered' by people with the power to put you in the spotlight, and only a handful of non-celebrities ever get that sort of break. Luck plays a huge part in the process. Which is why, once people achieve celebrity, they quickly adopt all of its conventions: they become aloof, arrogant and dismissive of 'ordinary' people. They have to continually convince themselves that they have achieved their success purely through their own talent - they can never admit the degree to which chance plays a part. They especially can't ever admit that, thanks to modern media, anyone can be on equal terms with them, that would negate their 'achievement'. The other side of the coin, of course, is that the people upset by their treatment at he hands of online celebrities have fallen into the trap of believing that the web can give them instant 'celebrity'. Believe me, 'web celebrity', as the result of having a lot of Twitter followers, or a successful blog or website, isn't the same as 'real' celebrity -web achievements count for nothing in the 'real world' as far these 'real' celebrities ae concerned. As I intimated earlier, we do have a solution to this situation: don't follow celebrities on Twitter, don't read their blogs, boycott their websites and podcasts. That's the only language they'll understand - depriving them of all that implied adulation. It's not as if you'd really be missing anything through such a boycott: none of them are going to make their best work freely available on the web. The fact is that by far the best and most entertaining websites, blogs and podcasts out there are actually produced by non-celebrities. They're the ones we should all be following - they're certainly friendlier and more accessible than 'real' celebrities. It's certainly what I'm trying to do these days. So, unfollow those celebrities today and start taking back the web for us 'ordinary' people!
Labels: Celebrity Cretins, Musings From the Mind of Doc Sleaze