Spilling on Twitter can result in blowback for celebs
Sinéad O’Connor and 50 Cent couldn’t be more different, but when it comes to over-sharing on Twitter, the 1980s icon and gruff rapper have quite a bit in common.
While we’ve become accustomed to Kanye West’s rants and boasts on the social media site (such as crowning himself the new Steve Jobs this week), or Laurieann Gibson’s smackdowns with Lady Gaga fans, O’Connor and 50 are the latest in a recent rash of celebrities — namely musicians — whose meltdowns and bouts of TMI (Too Much Information) have rendered them trending topics.
“I have lost all the faith in the team I’m on. I have nothing left to say I will not be promoting my music,” wrote 50 Cent in a series of furious tweets to his 5.4 million followers on Monday. “I’m going to deliver this album then. I have a film I wrote to focus on. I’m not upset I’m just convinced this is not how I want to be remembered.”
Then on Tuesday, O’Connor tweeted details of her “evening of love making” with a man she planned on divorcing after only 16 days of marriage: “we decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend again an [sic] stay married but we did rush so we gonna return to b friend g friend,” she wrote.
Twitter rants and feuds are nothing new, and bloggers have made it a sport to decipher the musings of artists who have proven especially revealing in 140 characters or fewer. But over-sharing on the social media site seems to have hit an apex over the last few days. Whether it’s a furor-filled rant or a late-night soliloquy, the tweets seem to be growing more personal, emotional and reckless.
All the attention around the increasingly revealing tweets can have a dual effect. Although they generate more interest in an artist, the tweets can also chip away at an image that, in many cases, has been carefully constructed and manicured. “Celebrities and social media. Seriously, will they ever learn?,” said independent branding consultant Amanda Guralski. “It’s such a powerful tool but it can be damaging. We get so obsessed with celebrities and the world they live in, it takes us back that they actually have an opinion.”
Rihanna, who’s used the site to engage with fans and stir up publicity, presented an image at odds with her tough persona in video and on albums last Monday when she used Twitter as a confessional of sorts.
She communicated something close to jealousy in a series of cryptic dispatches (known as sub-tweets): “How can you lie to her, while u lay with me???.....If you don’t have an answer, you don’t have to answer,” she wrote in a tweet.
Bloggers immediately surmised it was in response to a photo that had surfaced online of her ex, Chris Brown, and his current girlfriend, Karrueche Tran, sharing a kiss. Plus, the perceived tweets came after Brown and his mother also sent vague tweets about wanting a nameless lady back in their lives.
Kelly Clarkson managed to draw the ire of some of her more than 944,000 followers last week when she offered an off-the-cuff endorsement for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and wrote, “If he wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he’s got my vote. Too bad he probably won’t.”
Enraged followers immediately denounced the singer. “I’ve never been more disapointed [sic] I thought you were smarter,” one wrote, and another chided, “Its good that you dont want women to have the right to choose.” She eventually apologized to those she offended, but stuck by her support of Paul.
Guralski said while artists such as Kanye West have established their account as unfiltered platforms and go-to spots for the abrasive and outlandish, Clarkson had never really stirred the pot. “It’s the persona they’ve developed. Even if you put Rihanna and Clarkson side-by-side onstage … we’ve developed a standard for [them]. It’s not like she said the N-word or said she was a racist. She just said, ‘I’d vote for Ron Paul.’”
Aishah White, an entertainment publicist who represents Wale and Stanley Clarke, says celebs will continue to turn to Twitter to quickly clear up rumors or add fuel to brewing ones, because outlets quickly aggregate it.
“Saying something provocative or making a harsh comment will automatically garner enormous attention from press, critics and fans because the artist choses to publicly express their own opinion, which is then open to criticism,” she said.
Clarkson is already reaping the benefits of the controversy.
Her latest album, “Stronger,” got a sales boost: It’s currently at No. 11 on the iTunes albums chart and Paul supporters have been commenting on Amazon that they are buying the album and giving it a five-star rating solely for her endorsement. Paul also shouted her out and mentioned the “600% bump in sales” from his flock.
R&B-pop singer JoJo says as artists raise their visibility on Twitter (Rihanna, for instance, has 11.4 million followers, only slightly fewer than President Obama’s 11.7 million) they also begin to feel more of a responsibility to share even more with their followers.
“A lot of artists get negative things. I have fallen victim to that, but it’s something I try to avoid,” she said. “I express the way [certain things] make me feel … I’ve developed this relationship with my supporters and I don’t want it to feel inauthentic.”
Guralski said ultimately artists should realize that, unlike private therapy or an intimate chat with friends, spilling it all on Twitter has consequences.
“Twitter is supposed to be an outlet. You still need to understand once you put it out there, it’s out there. No matter if you’re a celebrity or an average person, you have to think of the repercussions.”