Ah, the celebrity “qwitter”: An apt Gawker-coined phrase for the “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist anymore” of a recently deleted celebrity Twitter account.
Inspired by last week’s “GOODBYE!!!!!!!!!!!!” tweet from the beleaguered Chris Brown (who was convinced that his latest release Graffiti was being “blackballed” by his label and retail outlets after pleading guilty to assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna), prompted the popular media gossip site to post A Celebrity Guide to Qwittering.
Whereas Brown received a “DO” for having the courtesy to leave behind a goodbye tweet, Gawker’s Azaria Jagger called his too-transparent goodbye a “DON’T”: The inherently petty nature of Twitter will make your reason seem even pettier; if you let people know what it is, you will only emphasize the ludicrous and/or self-important drama that preceded your qwitter.
Brown isn’t the only celebrity qwitter: Despite a campaign to bring her back to Twitter, Miley Cyrus stood firm by her “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!” with a rap music video posted on YouTube (a sample lyric: “And the reasons are simple, I started tweeting about pimples / I stopped living for moments and started living for people”).
From Trent Reznor to Lil’ Wayne, formerly avid celebrity tweeple are increasingly giving up on the 140 character statements. Often, it’s an immediate reaction to the fallout caused by regrettable tweets or updates, like Courtney Love’s shutdown after posting a series of inflammatory tweets.
Obviously loose lips can sink ships. No longer protected by a publicist (or allowed to blame the reporter for a misquote), celebrities must deal with the embarrassment of the classic not-thinking-before-you-post mistake, or even the consequence of twitter-jacked fake accounts that veer between satirical and reputation damaging.
Does this mean that qwittering celebrities signals Twitter’s 2010 fail? The very thing we criticize Twitter for — egocentric personal branding, anyone? — could be the site’s saving grace.
There is real value in celebrities’ tweets; possibly even equivalent to yesteryear’s tabloid paparazzi shots. If the new PR game for celebrities is to ensure that they’re producing a steady stream of reactions and the odd off-colour remark for the entertainment rags, then maybe Twitter will be yet another channel for our entertainment news — but coming directly from the celebrities themselves.