On celebrity and social media

by DaniGirl on September 10, 2009 · 8 comments

in How I love the Interwebs, Rants and rambles

Last week, I was tickled to stumble across this fun list of “cool Canadians on Twitter.” I don’t know why, but Canadian celebrities just seem more accessible, somehow, don’t they? I promptly started following Bryan Adams, William Shatner, Jann Arden, Rick Mercer, Brent Butt, the Tragically Hip, Matthew Perry, and Great Big Sea on Twitter, rounding out my existing CanCon-follow repetoire of Burton Cummings, Douglas Coupland, Margaret Atwood, and Jian Ghomeshi.

For the most part, I don’t see the point in following celebrities on Twitter. I mean, does Oprah really tweet, or does one of her minions do it for her? With more than two million followers, she doesn’t need me. I simply haven’t been interested in following any celebrities up until now.

But there’s something about these Canadian celebrities (and *air quotes* celebrities */air quotes*) that immediately feel more intimate and accessible. When I read Brent Butt’s tweets, his voice and sense of humour are charmingly distinct — and his tweets are distinctly down to earth, like: “Ok… I should get back to work. Then again, I should also eat less cheese, and I don’t think THAT’S going to happen any time soon.” And reading Douglas Coupland’s tweets is like 140 characters clipped directly from his books: “If you read the NYTimes site right after reading The Onion, reality morphs in a not unpleasant way. It’s like the news just had a stroke.” They seem pleasantly — ordinary, somehow.

When I was 15 years old, I had a crush on a boy named Greg. I also had a massive crush on Bryan Adams. And Greg had an older sister who had a picture of herself on a train with Bryan Adams. I think I was more jealous of that girl than any other person before or since. Not only was she Greg’s sister and could see him each day at dinner, each morning at breakfast, any old time she pleased, but she had actually (gasp!) met (titter!) Bryan Adams (swoon!) in person. It was beyond imaginable to me. The idea of simply being on the same train as Bryan Adams was fodder for endless hours of daydreaming, that long ago autumn of 1985.

I laugh now when I think of how my 15-year-old self would shimmer and explode in a cloud of teenaged hormonal delight at the idea of following Bryan Adams on Twitter. It even gave my 40-year-old self a bit of a nostalgic shiver when he recently tweeted “Ottawa today, got my first real six string…right here”. (I missed that concert, but caught a terrific one about a decade back, at Lansdowne.)

There’s something about Twitter, when used properly, that invites an intimacy with both big and little C celebrity that would simply astonish my Tiger-Beat reading self of two decades ago. I’m under no delusion that Rick Mercer will ever follow my tweets (heck, he wouldn’t even pick up the bloggy gauntlet I threw down, back in 2005) but there’s still an undeniable thrill to feel even an illusory sort of connection to actual famous people, yanno? Apparently my inner 14-year-old is barely repressed, even at the best of times!

I’ve been idling over this for a while, but I keep getting tangled up in my own words. What do you think? Do you follow any celebrities on twitter, or through other online forums? Do you actually try to talk to them? Does the fact that an author (or actor, musician, or other celeb) uses social media in a way that invites insight into their personality intrigue you or change how you feel about them?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Missy @ Marketing Mama September 10, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Hi there, saw your post over at Amber’s blog (strocel.com). I’ve been getting into twitter lately and am never quite sure what to talk about, but there are a lot of quippy people there – amber being one of them. I’ll look for you, too.

I really like following some of my favorite companies there – like non-profits and ergo baby carriers … celebrities have bored me. There’s one local radio talk show host that I follow who is cute and funny. I sent him one tweet saying how happy I was to find him on twitter and that I think of him as my gay bff during the lunch time hour (his talk show) and he wrote back a sweet note. That’s it.

But I have friends who have swooned and been super excited to get a tweet back from a celebrity. 🙂

2 colleen September 10, 2009 at 3:37 pm

You should ask Kerry about meeting and actually talking to Brian Adams in Sacremento.

3 Emma September 10, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I’ve had exactly the same thoughts. What access we have to people now! It’s insane to me that it’s actual celebs tweeting and not their PR machine. To be a teenager now and be able to read the tweets of the Jonas Bros or whatever – what a head trip.

There are some celebs I like following – a lot of comedians, because hey, funny tweets are good. There were others I was following just because, and I soon dropped those (e.g. Mrs Kutcher – no thanks). Having said that, I do follow a lot on that Cool Canadians list! But, you know, gotta support the Canucks. All in all, I much prefer ‘real’ people.

I sat in a restaurant near Mr Adams in London, UK as we both lived there at the time. I didn’t say anything. I should have. I was freaking out even though I was never really a fan!

4 Amber September 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm

I’ve gone back and forth on the celebrities. In the early days I followed a lot. Now I’ve pretty much unfollowed all of them, except Jann Arden. Mostly because her tweets are funny. Otherwise, I prefer to follow people I can actually interact with, and who interact with me in turn. For me, that’s the real strength of Twitter, is joining in on the conversation.

5 Shannon September 10, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Initially I followed a ton of celebs…but holy boring and self centered and drama were most of them! Unfollow. Now I only have a few I do follow…but hey….Brent Butt?? Didn’t know he was on there….awesome!! Off to add him. Did you see him live when he was here a few years back at Casino du Lac Leamy? What a hoot.

6 Hilary September 11, 2009 at 4:57 am

I find most celebs on Twitter to be incredibly dull.

I share your Bryan Adams love, though. He is the ONLY celebrity I want to meet. We may both live in London but, alas, we hang out in different spots! (Though I did see him in concert in April and when he walked through the crowd, I was THIS CLOSE to touching him. It was almost the highlight of my life!)

7 Hilary September 11, 2009 at 5:06 am

I forgot the other part of my comment – I’m a big figure skating fan and a lot of the sport’s most famous and successful atheletes do interact quite freely with fans on Facebook, Twitter etc. It creates quite an intimate feeling between the skaters and the fans – you can almost imagine that you’re really friends. Me, I prefer to keep them at arm’s length – never meet your heroes and all that!

8 Nat September 13, 2009 at 8:02 am

It’s so much easier to stalk celebrities now… NOT that I would ever do that. NOT that I am obsessed.

Just added a bunch of Canadian folks to my list… (@natsbrain btw.)

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