India Knight writing in the Sunday Times a week ago, commented on the new kind of toxic fame awaiting celebrities, thanks to internet discussion boards and online commenting. I thought it was an excellent piece, pointing out the cruel bullying that exists there, thanks to the anoymous nature of the web.
She uses the case of Susan Boyle to illustrate her point, when she writes ” the deification and then vilification of Boyle were both carried out by the public – a public increasingly keen on mass bullying. The internet has changed everything and that includes the nature of fame. Unfortunately, those who wish to be famous haven’t quite picked up on this: they still believe that only a couple of mean gossip columnists and intrusive photographers can harm or upset them: tomorrow’s chip wrappers.”
“Social networking sites were awash with otherwise apparently nice people making incredibly personal remarks about her appearance….there were whole discussions on other websites – thousands of them – about how “weird” she was, about “hating that bitch” and so on. What is striking is the casual breezy tone: say something appalling about a fragile human being in one sentence, tweeting about your supper the next. Casual contempt and bile, dished out cheerfully by complete strangers who…that’s what has changed. There is no longer any distance between “fans” and famous people. They’re right there, in your face – millions of little claws waiting to pull you apart and share out the entrails within seconds of you displeasing them – displeasure that is as likely to be provoked by your dress, or your facial expression, as it is by you making some sort of contentious or provocative pronouncement. Fame is now subject to attack by anyone who has access to a computer……Fame, which I don’t expect anyone has ever found especially easy to live with, has entered a new age. It was never for the fainthearted, but the career requirements have narrowed even further: if you want to be famous, you have to be made of metal. No heart, no brain, no soft underbelly. Otherwise, you’re walking wounded.”
Read article in full here