October 24, 2012

Twitpics Vs the Paparazzi

Casting my mind back to perhaps 2007 when I first discovered Facebook, the rush of being able to see what everyone was doing was the main buzz for me. The obsession that took hold wasn’t just because Zuckerberg had cracked the user interface or website structure or the little thumbs-up button, it was the fact that human beings are innately, really nosy creatures. We like to know what other people are doing, it helps us learn and feeds our weird urge to know the minor details about someone we already know pretty well . Socially, finding out about other peoples hobbies, opinions, favourite places to eat is how we learn about new things and how we decipher what we like ourselves.

So, being nosy about our own friends and family is one thing. But being nosy about celebrities is another kettle of fish. A whole industry made up of just nosing on people who don’t want you to talk to them. Which makes the urge ever stronger to nose around. As if it matters, crucially  to our life to just shake Ryan Gosling and ask him: CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU AND EVA MENDES DO TOGETHER BY POSTING IT ON FACEBOOK? Not knowing about your life Ryan, it drives me crazy.

Celebrities during this time (and 90’s/early 2000’s) were still really far away from the ‘normal people’. If we were lucky we’d get a Channel 4 mash up on the ‘Life of [Insert A list name here], a “one-off exclusive interview” in up-market weighty magazine or a gigantic shouty headline in the Metro that couldn’t be ignored. This wasn’t a healthy relationship however, this was ‘us lot’ looking at ‘them lot’ through the medium of tabloid newspapers, edited TV and cheap magazines – half made up and half exaggerated for a tasty headline.

This still happens of course, and although everyone’s still bashing around the words ‘new media’ and ‘social media’ like it’s most craziest MODERN thing to have ever happened – the media scene hasn’t changed that much.

So, there are normally two main reactions to reading celebrity stories in traditional news sources: a) Feeling bad about ourselves because these people have perfect lives or b) feeling bad ourselves because their flabby bits were being circled in their white bikinis frolicking on a yacht. It makes us feel bad because if they are being picked on then I dread to think what they’d say about everyone else who has an average-don’t-go-to-the-gym-much physique. It’s like when you’re super hot friend says ‘i’m so fat’ and you think WHAT DOES THAT MAKE ME THEN. None one really ever puts down a Heat magazine and feels good about themselves. Unless they managed to complete the shit celebrity crossword.

But, what Twitter, for example, has done, is wiped some of these things away. Reading a rubbishy tabloid isn’t the ONLY source of news now – in a world that we are all naturally rather nosy about. Twitter not only gives us something real and tangible to hold on to, i.e. a celebrity saying they are staying in to order a curry, reminding us they are real people but it also gives them a voice of their own.

Newspapers heavily rely on making news stories out of people’s Tweets and try and misconstrue or making them out to be bad. I think that must be an exhausting exercise, as with Twitter what you see is what you get. We all have a freedom of speech. It’s like Twitter has cut out the middle man and the media game of Chinese Whispers. Victoria Beckham tweets pictures of her and Harpers outfits and sitting on a plane smiling. To us, this is much more insightful and interesting than seeing a picture of her looking miserable at the airport – no wonder she looks miserable when she has slimey paparazzo trying to get as many angles as possible. Rihanna posts pictures of herself with her granny, or smoking on the beach, or her nephew, or a new outfit she likes. Much more interesting that a really shitty story about how one journalist disapproves of her new shorter hair cut.

The fact that celebrities are sharing information with the world because they WANT to, is very different from celebrities hiding under a rock crying because they can’t go to Waitrose in peace. Giving people freedom to share what they want to is something that makes the world feel a bit more connected.

Kate Middleton, please can you join Twitter now please?

So to sum it up…

Twitter: GREAT for looking at funny daily Twitpics of celebrities being normal. BAD for obsessed fan freaks who turn into ‘trolls’. 8/10
Paparazzi: GREAT for giving Lady Gaga lyric inspiration. BAD for every other reason under the sun. 0/10

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