Tag Archives: twitter

Celebrity spokespeople

Dear T

It’s a Friday night and there I am scrolling through my Instagram feed without really looking at it when I suddenly realise that a lot of people are posting about the same thing: Before the Flood – a documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio on climate change. I love a good documentary and as it’s free on YouTube via the National Geographic channel I thought I might as well give it a watch. And I’m very glad I did; it’s eye opening, beautiful, terrifying, thought-provoking, all the words that should be associated with a documentary that keeps a 23 year old inside on a Friday night.

However, there are some people who are not so flattering about the documentary and this is mainly due to the fact that a Hollywood celebrity is at the centre of it.

‘Why should we care what Leonardo DiCaprio thinks about climate change?’, people ask. ‘He’s an actor. What makes him an expert?’ (This is a nice version of some of the things I’ve read)

Do they have a point? In all honesty, probably. Yet I only watched the thing because I love watching Leo on the screen. Would I have watched it if it was presented by a climatologist who I’d never heard of? In all honesty, probably not.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, though. Millions of people have now been educated on a world threatening issue and know how they can make a difference and Leo has enabled that. He might not be an ‘expert’ – he’s the first person to admit that he has a lot to learn – but he’s certainly passionate and willing to put himself out there.

But why, despite this huge accomplishment, are many of the reviews telling Leo to get back to his day job? Why is it so offensive that he should have a passion besides acting? Well, from what I can tell, once one is branded a ‘celebrity’ they must never speak about non-celebrity matters henceforth. No. Shh. You are a celebrity shell, only good for looking pretty and having relationships with other celebrity shells. You are not a person; stop acting like one. (I feel like there’s a Black Mirror episode in here somewhere.)

Take Lily Allen and Gary Lineker for example. They had the nerve to talk about the blatant demonisation of refugees that is constantly being projected across the press. Allen received death threats when she visited the Calais camp and apologised on ‘behalf of [her] country’ for the way the refugees are being treated (see her article on Vice for more). Instead of reacting with compassion and sympathy for these victims the main consensus was how dare she speak for me!!! How dare she speak for MY country.

I mean, these are actual suffering humans being treated like the scum of the earth. But still. The real issue is definitely Lily Allen. She’s a singer, not a human rights activist!!! She should stop chatting shit and get on with singing.  

Similarly, when Gary Lineker disagreed with the masses by tweeting

the treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless

the Sun declared that he be sacked from the BBC. Well what did he expect? He’s a former footballer/presenter. He has no right to be honest, to voice an opinion on something really earth-shatteringly important.

(I really hope my sarcasm is coming across here.)

Should celebrities even have opinions? And if they have to shouldn’t they just keep it to themselves?!

How ridiculous these questions seem to me.

Because these celebrities are more than their jobs, just like the rest of us. They are people. I’m allowed an opinion. I don’t get told to hang myself for posting these blogs. Nobody tells me to leave my job. I’ve never been accused of not being an expert in something I’ve tweeted about. Passion is for everyone, no matter your job, race, age, gender. So why are celebrities being fought against everyday for being human?

I don’t know the answer to this.

Sophia Bush, an actor and supporter of Hillary Clinton wrote this, which is everything I’m trying to say today and more:

For everyone who has taken to the Internet to call me names today, and every day that I have ever shared my personal opinion on my personal page, way to reinforce the hatred and bullying and constant demeaning of people that you are saying doesn’t exist. 

To all of my conservative friends who’ve said, “we may not agree but we love your passion and your desire to fight for what you believe in,” thank you. And to everyone who does align with what I’m saying who has taken time out of their day to say “keep it up,” or “thank you for not hiding,” or “thanks for the articles that actually fact check,” you mean a lot to me in the constant onslaught of hate that is the Internet these days. 


My job is not who I am. It is my job. The person who does it — the person I am when I wake up and when I talk to my mom on the phone — clocks in and out every day. The person who you are telling to “commit suicide” and save you a split second to scroll past on instagram, who you are calling a “dumb cunt,” who you are saying “should see what sexual assault feels like,” and who you are just straight up saying you “used to love but now hate,” or you’d “still fuck despite my political views” (PS never happening, bro) is an actual person.

I think the deep rooted question that stems from all this is: should society dictate celebrities?

And when it’s put like that this whole thing seems rather silly.

Jesse Tyler Fegurson, (aka Mitchell from Modern Family aka my spirit animal) sums the issue up well in this instagram post (he was called out for having an opinion on politics).

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Sometimes I think it would be beneficial for society to remember:

people are people are people are people

whether they’re celebrities, refugees, employed, unemployed, black, white, male female, outspoken, shy, etc etc etc

Everybody is just trying to get through life.

Lots of love, big fat human love

Alex

xoxo

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Reunions, unicorns and wake-up calls.

Dear Alex,

Despite not living next to each other, we are still very much in sync, because I couldn’t agree more about Twitter and actually the blog I wrote over the course of last week, follows on with a very similar topic.

So last weekend was my five-year school reunion. We left school five years ago. FIVE. I’m not sure how this much time has passed, whilst at the same time, the feeling

fullsizerender

Spoiler: people are better in real life

of returning to school felt daunting.

Like most people, I’m sure, I had goals or ideas about where I would be when I attended the event at 23 – an age that at 18 felt mature and adult. I looked at 23 year olds and thought how grown up they were. They had their lives sorted, they were successful, happy and ticking all the boxes society tells us we should have done by the time we’re 23 (degree, job, boyfriend, your own flat, the list goes on). Boxes, that are all the more painfully obvious we haven’t met because of social media. I couldn’t feel further from a grown up – perhaps because I’m still calling adults ‘grown-ups’, when real ones of couMjAxMi1hY2NmNGQ4NDQyZTA2Y2Fk.pngrse, don’t call themselves a ‘grown-up’.

My point is, is that when I thought of the concept of being 23 it was of someone who was ‘sorted’ and ‘together’ and a lot of the time, I feel like I am neither. The worst part about growing up in our world today is that you can’t escape what looks like evidence to prove that you are the only one feeling this inadequacy. On social media, my peers seem to be far closer to the idea of what I thought 23 would be than I am.

Nowadays, there are more ways for us to connect to people, to communicate, to share – there are many positives. But there are also far too many opportunities for us to compare ourselves to others and in doing so feel worse about ourselves. The constant inescapable presence of others happiness, or a Lo-Fi filtered, brightened, colour tinted, staged happiness in our faces when we don’t feel the same, is doing nothing for people’s mental health.

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Clever.

Seeing people in real life as opposed to the happy, together and sorted version I saw on social media, was a wake-up call. A wake-up call to how inaccurate of a picture it can produce. People were talking about how unhappy they were, their arguments with friends or the jobs they hated when it would have been impossible to gauge any of this from their social media presence. Obviously I have always known the potentially misleading culture of the online world – it’s like a unicorn, you know it’s not real but you can’t help thinking how pretty or magical it looks and wishing that you could own one. If at 23, and pretty secure in myself, I can still be influenced by these misleading portrayals of people, what hope is there for young adults today?

Talking to old teachers, they told me about the suicide attempts and self-harming that is more commonplace in education now than there ever was even when we were at school five years ago. Of which, they largely accounted it to social media. If true, it’s a frightening reality.

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CNN’s graphic summing it up perfectly.

I worry that the technology we are so proud of, is also hurting us, and hurting a younger generation the most.We are not only, or solely, happy and I doubt many people feel ‘sorted’ or ‘together’ at any age. Not one of us is perfect, and we have made it harder for people to see this, to separate illusion from reality.

 

Nowadays we live in two worlds, but for teenagers it’s harder. They live in limbo between these worlds, perhaps at the cost of never being themselves, feeling complete, or figuring out who they are, in either. It’s something that weighs, and has been weighing, on my mind more so than ever. All because of a school reunion.

Love T xx

The Problem with Twitter

Dear T

The Great British Bake Off is one of Britain’s most valued treasures. It’s like David Attenborough or Kew Gardens. It’s something that refuses to be tarnished, that fills hearts with joy and buttery goodness week upon week.

However.

During this series of GBBO I’m pained to admit that I have become aware of something unsettling, something a little sinister lingering beneath the surface of the big white tent. As I watch Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood judge a batch of cakes in a fair but firm way, I notice a common occurrence on my Twitter feed, something that gives me a sour taste in my mouth – which is quite a feat considering I’m watching a show about baking

Wow Candice on GBBO is all kinds of annoying

Why is Candice baking in heels?! Gurl I hope you trip and your roulade smushes everywhere

Love it when Candice gets negative feedback!! Can’t stand her smug face

Candice’s jaw must ache with all that pouting she does.

And then it becomes more sinister:

How do Mary and Paul stand so close to Candice without slapping the shit out of her for that fucking pout

Cannot bear Candice on GBBO. And Paul needs to stop treating her with kid gloves cause he wants her buns

Swear Candice must be playing with Paul’s willy, can’t stand her.

Candice Brown is a 31-year old PE teacher from London. She’s a good baker. She’s witty, intelligent, and fun. The tweets above weren’t hard to find and are only a cross section of the Candice-hatred. But why Candice? I can’t figure it out. There’s nothing about her rude or racist or conceited. I can’t see any evidence that she’s smug. So what’s the problem?

The sour taste in my mouth gets sourer still.

Surelyit’s not just because she’s young and female and attractive.

It is.

She’s beautiful therefore she must be sleeping with Paul Hollywood.

She wears lipstick = ‘that fucking pout’

She’s doing well in the competition = smug.

The tweets about Candice are never about her skills, but her appearance. She doesn’t look like Mary Berry or Delia Smith so she probably can’t bake, instead using her looks to excel in the competition. By not conforming to the Wholesome British Baker model that we are used to and expect, people feel compelled to take her down.

It’s so weird.

Several years ago the same treatment was given to Bake Off contestant Ruby Tandoh. She, too, was accused of sleeping with Paul Hollywood. Because of course, how else could she possibly progress through the competition otherwise? She was young and attractive so she must have use her body to get to the final. Right?

Funnily enough, no. And funnily enough, when Ruby came out as gay, she followed the announcement with these words; ‘p.s. for those who thought I fancied Paul Hollywood or that I’d ever bang him to get ahead – Joke’s on you, you massive shitting misogynists.’

It isn’t just the blatant sexism that bothers me here, but the creepy keyboard warriors who take part in the abuse. It’s become a normal part of life now, so much so that we just scroll through the insults and forget about them in a matter of seconds. But when did it become ok for someone to receive death threats from strangers for wearing lipstick?

When Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint the other day, some Twitter users openly expressed their discontent that she wasn’t actually killed. I wonder what percentage of these people actually know Kim? I’d bet none.

I see West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher as the victim of almost daily harassment against people who are pissed off that she didn’t leave the theatre through the stage door or because she chose to cover a song which other people don’t think she should have covered. These people put all their energy into making her feel as small and remorseful as possible. And they succeed.

Twitter has become a dark place full of cyberbullies and trolls who use their computer screens to protect themselves. It’s scary and I wonder how far it will go. Does the world really need any more hate?

Tom Clarke, the lead singer of The Enemy, sums it up perfectly. He quit Twitter two years ago and when asked why he said:

Our tour is selling exceptionally well in a difficult climate for our genre, and yet all I want to do is leave music, for the sake of my mental well-being, because of a few bullies, but also because of an entire industry’s complete unwillingness to challenge the behaviour of those people and hold them to account.

The sad thing is, whether you like my music or not, I can’t be the only one. How many musicians will we drive away by failing to recognise and deal with this abhorrent behaviour?”

What will Twitter do about these bullies? Because I see this getting a lot worse before it gets better. And if Tom Clarke’s reaction is anything to go by, our favourite social media influencers might be long gone before the problem is fixed.

Lots of love

Alex xoxo