Our Sisters’ Keepers

5
A good many of us were upset about the most recent Grammy Awards show, and the ridiculous amount of airtime they gave to Chris Brown.  More disturbing, however, were the many Chris Brown fans (most of them young women) who took to Twitter during the broadcast to post variations on this theme:

Buzzfeed, among other sites, picked up on these tweets, reposting 25 of them (Twitter handles and all).  Of these 25 Twitter users, several deleted their pages altogether, several more made their pages private, and the rest quite virulently defended their statements.  Further, they told us that we needed to mind our own business (and I’m sorry, but if you’re posting public tweets you kind of make them everyone’s business) and not go to their Twitter pages if we didn’t like what they had to say.

The young women who are coming to Chris Brown’s defense want us to believe in the power of redemption.  They remind us that Rihanna, who found herself on the receiving end of Chris Brown’s fists, probably provoked him and was therefore somehow deserving of at least a slap across the face.  They ask us to consider a life spent being punished for “one mistake,” and wonder if we, those who are not fans of Chris Brown, have not ever in our lives fallen short of the glory.

And then they offer themselves to Chris Brown to beat to his heart’s content, and say they’re “just joking.”

Ah, yes – the “it was a joke” defense.  It’s up there with “being taken out of context” or “No offense, but…” as the easiest way out of having to apologize for saying something really fucking stupid.

I belong to an online writing collective called Five By Five Hundred.  Every Friday, I turn in something that does not exceed 500 words in length.  It’s been a good way for me to flex my poetry muscles, poetry being something I’d abandoned years ago when I first quit drinking (that’s a long story, and one for another day).

One of the other writers in the collective is Mitra Parineh.  The daughter of Iranian immigrants, she writes eloquently about the struggles of women in that country, and everywhere else for that matter.  This week, she nailed the Chris Brown thing in less than 500 words:

I wonder, do my 18-year-old students who L-O-V-E-! Chris Brown-a famous pop star who beat his more-famous pop star girlfriend until her face swelled like a ripe plum-understand what human and civil rights are worth? Because I’m afraid they do not know, do not realize that the women they let down when they say “ya, he hit her, but it’s not such a big deal” are not only their classmates at American university but their unknown classmates, young women they’ve never met, somewhere over an ocean.

Ladies, you can protect your Tweets, and make your Facebook pages private, but neither of these safeguards lessen the impact of your words.  Even in jest, your tacit acceptance of violence against other women delivers the message that it’s no big deal, and that it’s even “funny” in certain circumstances.  As my aunt said today, we are our sisters’ keepers. Like it or not, you as women have an obligation to protect your sisters from being abused, and if you cannot – or will not – take some kind of real, meaningful action, you can at least refrain from making these hilarious “jokes” of yours.

And while you’re at it, you can thank your lucky stars that you have no comprehension of what it’s like to be abused, or to have witnessed the devastating effects of abuse on your loved ones.  Because I assure you that if you had, tweeting about wanting Chris Brown to “beat you” would never, EVER have entered your minds.

2011: The Year In Dumb Celebrity Tweets

1

2011 is over and done, but I didn’t want to sweep it under the carpet without adding my own 2011 List of Something-Or-Other, pop-culture wise.

I think this is the first full year I’ve managed to stay on Twitter without pulling the plug.  I’ve kept a pretty healthy distance from the drama queens, spambots, and attention whores…keeping more or less to the promise I made to myself to stick to publishing houses, authors, and other writerly concerns.  But who am I kidding, really?  The real entertainment is in following “celebrities” who A) truly seem to believe that everything they have to say is IMPORTANT, and B) seemingly don’t have some underpaid lackey checking their nuggets of wisdom before shooting them into the Twitterverse.  2011 was a special year for Dumb Celebrity Tweets.  To wit:

Nikki Sixx, on the unrealistic standards of beauty:  PEOPLE MAGAZINE MAKES A LIST OF “THE 100 MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE”. THAT THIS IS A STANDARD FOR YOUNG KIDS TO FOLLOW JUST MAKES ME SICK…..I HAVE MANY ISSUES WITH THIS..A LOT OF QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED IN THE SONG “LIES OF THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE”.

First – note how he sets his outrage up to promote one of his songs. Isn’t that cute?

Look, it’s no secret among my nearest and dearest that I am a big fan of the Crüe.  I find them enormously entertaining.  But Nikki Sixx – while I admire his outspokenness on addiction issues and think he’s a marvelous photographer – can really be an insufferable dink sometimes.  Thanks for tossing us regular gals a bone, Sixx, but until I see you painting the town with someone like me, someone within ten years of your own age that might be carrying 10-15 extra pounds and still owns underwear dating to the latter half of the Bush administration, I just can’t take your pontificating anything like seriously.

Ashton Kutcher, demonstrating an inability to turn on the news before opening his twitmouth:  How do you fire Jo Pa?

I have no love for this asshat.  He’s the perfect example of Celebrities Who Think They’re Smarter Than You Because They’re Celebrities.  Before the days of Twitter, we didn’t have to hear so much about how very smart they are, how in tune they are with the latest news.  I believe that people like Ashton Kutcher should not be allowed anywhere near a means of “social networking” without a series of measurements put in place – not unlike a virtual obstacle course, if you will – to create a significant delay between their next brilliant thought and the ability to send it out.  I would also not rule out the possibility of a choke collar.

Tila Tequila, on attention whoring:  Ppl who whine & complain about how horrible their lives have been then take it out on others, I have absolutely no respect nor empathy for that because there are millions of ppl out there who suffer, but they choose to be SURVIVORS in life and try to stay POSITIVE!

I had to read that a few times, too.  Popping in on the feed for the former Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen is one of my guilty little secrets.  That’s why I can tell you that this particular statement is HILARIOUS, because when Tila Tequila is not breathlessly revealing her HUGE PLANS for world domination to her fans (who seem mostly to be Finnish teenagers, heavily medicated shut-ins, and people who use LOL in place of proper punctuation), she is the sovereign whiner of our epoch.  Girlfriend threatens to off herself online more than Sarah Palin sticks her foot in her mouth.  God, I hate that I know this.  Maybe I SHOULD quit Twitter again.

 

Celebtwitties

3

Since being back on Twitter, I’ve tried to keep it to monitoring news in the writing and publishing world, and interacting with a handful of friends.

But being the pop culture junkie that I am, I can’t help wandering off my feed and examining the greater vomitorium of TMI out there, largely provided by “celebrities.” To be fair, some of these famous Tweeters provide interesting, amusing commentary. Some of them are unintentionally amusing. And still others really ought not to be on the internet in any way, shape or form.

Let’s get this out of the way first – no, unlike the millions of other users, I am not following Charlie Sheen. I will not follow Charlie Sheen. With all due respect to those of you who ARE following Charlie Sheen, I don’t get it. He’s not at all interesting anymore, and I am pretty well-known in my circle of friends and acquaintances as being a fairly unapologetic watcher of trainwrecks. In fact, Charlie Sheen could take a lesson or two from Tila Tequila, who always manages to keep it fresh-yet-rancid with her unique blend of crazy. When not tweeting incessantly about various conspiracy theories and the Illuminati (and Ms. Tequila fancies herself something of an expert on the subject), she’s promising financial aid to single mothers in between twitpics of herself “performing” at clubs with names like Poles-R-Us. Amazing.

I DO follow Charlie’s brother, Emilio. He strikes me as a very grounded, clever fellow. He’s an excellent gardener, to boot, and shells his own peas (although he did also put his father to work in that regard…and tell me you don’t love the image of Martin Sheen sitting on Emilio’s porch shelling peas). What’s more – EMILIO ESTEVEZ FOLLOWED ME BACK. I don’t know what I did to deserve such an honor (he only follows about 30,000 other people), but the fact that he just might see this (once I share the link on my feed) fills me with schoolgirl giggles. Emilio, if you’re reading this – I love you, and I wish they’d make a Breakfast Club sequel where you’re married to Ally Sheedy’s character and living in an artists’ colony in Basin, Montana, making giclee and dandruff prints of wintery mountain scenes. I’d see it at least as many times as I’ve seen the first one.

George Takei is quite possibly the funniest person on Twitter, famous or not.

John Cusack will still block you if you criticize his spelling and/or grammar. He’s a douche.

Leann Rimes. How do I put this politely? Leann Rimes is horrible. Remember that button-nosed little cherub with Patsy Cline’s voice? My God, what a hosebeast harpy shrew she grew up to be. You will never see anyone prouder and giddier to have destroyed two marriages. And pity the foolish one who suggests that Leann might benefit from a couple of cases of Ensure. She EATS ALL THE TIME, okay? In fact, she will fill your feed with an itemized list of everything she’s eaten on her honeymoon with Eddie. Because she’s ALWAYS EATING. Like, CONSTANTLY. And then she’ll post a picture of herself in a bikini looking for all the world like a skeleton anatomical model festooned with kite string, and wait for someone else to express concern about her protruding hipbones, so she can respond thusly:

those are called abs not bones love.

I think this can safely go on the record as being the Stupidest Thing Ever Posted on Twitter. Well done, Leann! I had no idea that properly-toned abdominal muscles jutted out in perpendicular angles like, well, protruding hipbones. I feel so stupid now. Also, I’m apparently filled with envy, because usually after she’s done litanizing her meals and snacks, she posts stuff she’s lifted from The Quote Garden about jealousy. Because who wouldn’t be jealous, really? Yeah. Leann Rimes kind of sucks. I really need to stop looking at her page.

Barry Manilow needs to take control of his own Twitter page. I bet that guy is hilarious.

I follow Nikki Sixx. He takes amazing photographs. I wish Mick Mars would tweet more. Tommy Lee is insane. I don’t follow Vince Neil; I’m not sure why.

If you want to know everything about everything, follow Roger Ebert. He’s the perfect example of someone who really knows how to use Twitter to good effect. Paul Feig is a good read, although lately all he’s been doing is retweeting praise for his Bridesmaids movie. Rightfully so, but I’ll be sort of glad when all that dies down and he starts tweeting his own stuff again. I can’t bring myself to look at La Lohan’s page anymore; the denial there is just too depressing.

Beyond that, is Katy Perry worth following? Let me know…

Back in the Saddle Again (and it chafes).

0

After some internal struggle, I reactivated my Twitter account.  Mostly I follow other writers, as well as literary agents and publishing houses.  (I may or may not also be following three out of four members of Mötley Crüe, but let me assure you that this is totally above board and completely necessary.)  I don’t engage in Twitter fights, or most hashtag shenanigans.  I also get FREE BOOKS by paying attention to various giveaways taking place in my stream.  So thus far, it’s been a mostly satisfactory and drama-free experience.

But my previous observations of Twitter (and this extends to “social networking” in general) still stand.  The vast majority of people who use these sites seem to be recreating their middle school years.  Drilling down into the bowels of Twitter, one finds numerous people who fit into the category of “Really Ought To Know Better.”  Attention whores abound on Twitter: they’re the folks who post oblique, loaded statements and wait for the ensuing cavalcade of sympathetic responses.  Overall, there are a lot of virtual temper tantrums, pissing matches among the incontinent, popularity contests, and veiled jabs.  And don’t get me started on the ridiculous politics of “following back.”

It’s a culture of “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOKITLOOKITLOOKIT” and in my way I am just as guilty as anyone else.  I mean, I have a blog, a Facebook page and now – again – a Twitter presence.  In having any one of these things there is an implicit need to connect.  But there’s a danger of being unhealthily connected, of taking a series of characters across the screen too seriously, of mistaking late night online exchanges with real intimacy, of looking to a bunch of virtual strangers for validation, approval, and “love.”  That’s not to say that one can’t forge real friendships or find real community out there.  I’ve experienced that, to be sure, but I have also fallen into the wormhole more than once and suffered for having done so.

Knowing all of this, I have rejoined the ranks of Twitter.  I will retweet funny statements from the likes of Paul Feig and George Takei (and honestly, that guy’s a superstar and arguably the one reason why EVERYONE should have a Twitter account).  I will engage with the aforementioned writers and literary agents in the hopes of forging connections.  If the topic proves amusing and smacks of more advanced wordsmithing, I may even play some of your reindeer hashtag games.

But I’m not gonna feed anyone’s emotional tapeworm, and I’m not gonna expect anyone to do the same for me.

With that understanding in place, I think I should do just fine.