Week 4: Celebrities Online


As Jill Walker Rettberg’s book, Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, mentioned, celebrities tend to have more liberty when it comes to self-expression and self-representation online. And though that might be, I think we can agree that doesn’t mean it holds true for every celebrity. Many celebrities claim that they use social media as a way to connect with their fans. As they post “every-day life” photos, it shows followers how human a celebrity is, and how they’re “just like us”.

I wrote “just like us” in quotes because I don’t mean to say that these celebrities are not, but there’s definitely a different way society perceives someone whose life and career is already so public. I think fans are still primarily “readers of text”, a term Rettberg used in the People or Text? section in Chapter 1. There are still few celebrities who actively engage with their followers by replying to comments and taking part in conversations online. They continually post, and their fans continually like, comment, double tap, retweet, favorite, repost, etc. Even I take part in this. I enjoy following my favorite celebrities on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. It really is interesting to see how they live their day-to-day life and keep up with their lastest projects. There’s a particular admiration we hold for these celebrities, which is why we follow them.

But what happens when celebrities post something they normally wouldn’t or, more importantly, “shouldn’t”? As an audience, it is not uncommon for us to be judgmental of what is posted. We still have a right to decipher what is acceptable for certain people to share. This was an issue quite some time before, but former-actress Amanda Bynes comes to mind. She used to have her own TV show on Nickelodeon and often played roles with the “good-girl” image. Then she began tweeting things considered rude or unladylike. She was highly criticized and many of her fans growing up found themselves asking, “What happened to her?”. She is not the only female celebrity to get in trouble for what she posts. From Miley Cyrus to Kim Kardashian, there are a number of celebrities online who continually receive high criticism because they aren’t representing themselves on social media as how society expects them. I agree with Rettberg that this is true. Society has expectations for women and how they present themselves online. If they don’t follow, then we’re led to judge them for their so-called “poor social media choices.”

4 thoughts on “Week 4: Celebrities Online

  1. sjanetos

    Another example that comes to mind is Iggy Azalea, who engages with her haters in comments and through Twitter replies. She encourages the bad behavior by responding only to negative comments. And instead of defending herself, she usually just reinforces her bigotry. In one reply she said “I have a black boyfriend, how can I be rascist.” She would have been better off not responding at all.

  2. d. o.

    On the other hand, you have celebrities whose new media presence is so curated that whenever they do represent themselves in a way that they normally wouldn’t, they are heralded as “real.” Beyonce is a pretty good example of this–her music video for “7/11” is predominately made up of lo-fi camera phone footage of her acting silly (e.g. talking on her foot like it’s a telephone, jumping out of a Christmas box). Fans can view those images and I feel like they’re seeing the REAL Beyonce…when what they’re seeing is just as carefully constructed as everything else about Beyonce’s new media presence.

  3. christineholland

    I am childhood friends with a girl who was one of the main characters on a recent Disney Channel show, and she has received a huge fan following on social media from her fame among the older-kid/tween crowd. It is interesting to see her social media posts and compare them with the rest of my non-famous friends. While her posts my seem like they offer a glimpse into her everyday life, I know that there are huge chunks of her life that aren’t broadcasted for her followers. And since she has a certain public image to maintain, she doesn’t post certain things that other girls our age would post. Not that we post pictures of us doing questionable things, but even something like dressing up to go to a party at night with friends is avoided on her profile. While it is fun to think we get to look into celebrity’s lives, we must keep in mind that they are still within the confines of their public image and their agent or PR specialist ultimately gets the final say on what can and cannot be posted.

  4. ShanyaNorman

    As the saying goes in show business, “image is everything.” With advances in social media nowadays, celebrities have used these platforms to carefully curate and promote that image, using things like selfies, tweets, and more to bring them closer to their fans, make them seem like normal people, etc. I think you brought up an good point in the idea that, sometimes, celebrities do post rude, inappropriate, scandalous things that can blow up over social media. It’s interesting to note how it spreads so quickly and can turn social media as a device working against them. That being said, it shows the power and influence that celebrities have in modern society over all things media. In which case, they do have to be careful (which is probably why they spend fortunes on PR) of their activity over these platforms in comparison to non-celebrities who use social media as expressions of their free speech. For celebrities, it seems like that free speech is limited to protect their image and influence.

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