It’s funny. But is it? Really?
The pressure-cooker environment of the Hollywood Hills has seen more than one star fall from the sky over the years.
From Whitney Houston to Mark Wahlberg, Alex Baldwin to Charlie Sheen, it seemed that no matter how big a star you were, no one was safe from losing their marbles.
For us suburban folk playing at home, it was invariably a massive shock: there, in plain view, a glossy, polished celeb was behaving badly – just like one of us! Of course, within a few hours the slate would be swept squeaky clean by a genius publicist and all would be forgiven.
And then Twitter was invented.
Officially founded in 2006, Twitter started to seriously attract the Hollywood celebrities in 2007. Unlike the majority of us who sat in front of a patiently flashing cursor workshopping a witty insight (in 140 characters or less), celebrities took to the medium like wildfire. Finally! A chance for them to reveal who they really were, far from the vice-like grip their publicity teams had over what they could say, and to whom. It was a revelation.
Online relationships were forged between celebrities and their fan bases as direct conversations were finally made possible.
Fans delighted in having untouched access into the inner workings of their favourite star’s minds, moods, and mannerisms. But like the story of Icarus, as the heat was turned up, everything begun to come unstuck.
Take a look at some of the Twitter meltdowns (post continues after gallery):
The modern Hollywood meltdown plays out online. In addition to the omnipresent paparazzi loitering around every corner, the gossip columns, the glossy magazines, the reality shows, and the entertainment reporting; there was now hordes of greedy, needy, fans wanting a piece of them online, too.
Twitter, once a welcome instrument for setting the record straight and a mouthpiece directly to their fans, now became a stage in which tantrums were had, secrets were told, and the ugly truth of superstardom revealed. Many of the celebrities – especially the younger ones – were not always in a mentally stable place to be making these kind of statements to their online followers, which often numbered in the millions. But as an unregulated medium, their personal safety didn’t matter.
Case in point:
It was these images of Britney that shocked the world – our perfect pop queen was clearly not well. But rather than reach out and ask “Are you OK?” we fanned the flames with endless reporting on her ‘meltdown’.
Britney Spears was lucky. Her meltdown happened in 2007, just as we sat on the cusp of fully-blown addictions with social media. She was spared the opportunity to take to Twitter to tell her side of the story, and yet other stars in the years that have followed have not been so lucky. Not only have they had Twitter available, but Instagram too – a much more destructive medium for, as they say, a picture tells a thousand words.