Twitter is full of homophobic celebrities; at least that’s how it appears based on the number of embarrassing gaffes that have occurred recently. Cee Lo Green – the chap who made F You famous and went Crazy with Gnarls Barkley – offended the gay community by implying that a critic (Andrea Swensson) had to be gay not to like his show. Apparently Mr Green thinks he’s too masculine for gay people to handle. Which is fascinating concept.
As happens on Twitter, people responded – furiously – and Green deleted the offending tweet, replacing it with an apology as lucklustre as Swensson’s opinion of his concert. Unfortunately his apology drew almost as much ire as the initial comment (he feels it wasn’t in any way been homophobic), so it was also deleted.
Wisely he abandoned Twitter and issued a more fitting apology through Us Weekly. Sort of. He still doesn’t think he ought to apologise for his little rant. And, of course, he wants the world to know that some of his best friends are gay.
Can you imagine the panic his PR agent must have felt when he or she got wind of what was going on? How about Blake Shelton’s publicist, who had to read Shelton’s homophobic tweets that implied violence to any gay man who dared come on to him. He compounded his mistake by mocking the people who responded in anger and only after that elicited more criticism did he apologise. Not only is this a gaffe of ego, but it’s also one of extreme insensitivity.
Not quite as insensitive as comedian Gilbert Gottfried though, who thought it would be fantastically funny to make jokes about Japan’s tsunami before the waters receded. Apparently he published 12 tasteless jokes on Twitter, including one regarding Japan’s status as an advanced country, so advanced that they don’t go to the beach, the beach comes to them. Of course he apologised, but probably not before his PR agent’s head started spinning 360 degrees.
What many celebs don’t seem to realise is the magnitude of their reach, or the consequences of updates made in anger, or under the influence of alcohol, drugs and stupidity. You and I could possibly get away with the kind of insensitivity demonstrated by Gottfried, although it’s best to keep that level of inhumanity to yourself. The reason being no one really cares. We’d get a few reactions, we’d lose followers, friends and family would section us off, but the world wouldn’t notice. When you start counting your followers in the hundreds of thousands though, you’ve got serious clout and a serious responsibility to watch what you say.
Twitter is informal, to a degree. It allows you to speak your mind, to a degree. It doesn’t allow you to cross traditionally demarcated social boundaries without immunity. Online reputations are won and lost on Twitter, and to publicists’ horror they have very little control over what their charges say.
What is puzzling is that some celebs seem incapable of learning from their mistakes. Take Chris Brown, for instance. He appears to be working hard on a reputation as one of the most ill-adjusted men on the planet. He doesn’t think much of women, or men for that matter, especially gay men. He’s twice had to apologise on Twitter for anti-gay slurs – that’s twice in six months.
Russell Crowe is no stranger to controversy; in fact he seems to court it. To be fair, he also doesn’t seem concerned about his reputation and probably thinks publicists are for wusses. His latest escapades see him flirt with anti-Semitism. He’s condemned circumcision and called it barbaric.
Again, to be fair, he was responding to a fan who asked Crowe whether he should circumcise his son – because actors are experts on infant circumcision. He got a very honest answer. Crowe is fortunate in that he really does have Jewish friends, who know that he can be a bit of an ogre and are willing to defend him against anti-Semitism allegations.
If that’s where it stopped it would be ok. But Crowe has also used Twitter to dismiss science, which lends credence to the ogre argument.
My favourite Twitter gaffe is not, in my view, a gaffe at all. Two years ago the owner of a high-profile basketball team, Mark Cuban, used Twitter to vent his frustration at a referee. He was fined for the pleasure, but he wasn’t to de deterred. He responded to the fine with a rather brilliant tweet: “can’t say no one makes money from twitter now. the nba does.”
Now, if that doesn’t add to one’s online reputation, I don’t know what does.