News & Politics

Celebrities Are Ruining Twitter

Actor George Takei participates in AOL's BUILD Speaker Series. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

When Twitter became popular, regular folk were told how great it would be that they could follow and connect with their favorite celebrities on the social media platform. I am sure most Twitter users do in fact follow several celebrities, because, why not, right? But, whether they’re following a movie star or a musician, they probably didn’t click that follow button expecting a nonstop stream of political hectoring. But, lately, that’s what they’re getting. Earlier this week, Joss Whedon, the director of The Avengers,  took to Twitter to announce (in a now-deleted tweet) that he wanted President Donald Trump to “just quietly die.”

Donald trump is killing this country. Some of it quickly, some slowly, but he spoils and destroys everything he touches. He emboldens monsters, wielding guns, governmental power, or just smug doublespeak. Or Russia. My hate and sadness are exhausting. Die, Don. Just quietly die.

In today’s political climate, celebrities see nothing wrong with wishing death upon someone with whom they disagree politically. The tweets fall in line with more visceral displays of reckless hatred such as Kathy Griffin’s bloody decapitated Trump stunt or Madonna declaring she “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” They see such vile hatred as mainstream—the stuff that will be met with cheers, not denunciations or visits from the Secret Service. They’re not concerned about alienating fans or public outrage because, to them and people in their circles, their attitude is acceptable.

Never mind that roughly half of all Americans disagree with them. They don’t care. Movie ticket sales are at a 25-year low, but they are constantly doubling down on rhetoric that is alienating large portions of their audience. They can’t see the writing on the wall and, even if they could, they regard the people exiting the cinemas as unworthy of their talents. Last year Seth Meyers, host of Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC, told Trump supporters to stop watching his show before flipping them the bird. I doubt any Trump fans actually watch his show, and Meyers probably assumed they weren’t either, since, as he acknowledged, he constantly mocks and denigrates Trump on his show. He certainly wasn’t concerned that anyone in the audience was going to boo him. In fact, the audience cheered.

Is it any wonder that celebrities are turning their Twitter feeds into anti-Trump soapboxes? Pauline Kael, the late film critic for The New Yorker, famously said in the wake of the 1972 presidential election, “I can’t believe Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.” I’m sure most Hollywood celebrities thought the same thing after Trump’s victory because they don’t realize their deep blue strongholds are surrounded by a sea of red. It’s time for celebrities to get out of their liberal bubbles because they’re not only ruining Twitter, they’re ruining the country by actively participating in dividing it by using platforms meant to connect with people for partisan purposes.

The Twitter feed of George Takei (best known for portraying Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek: The Original Series) is full of anti-Trump rants and links. Takei’s nearly three million followers are so blinded by his pleasing anti-Trumpism they’ve forgotten Takei is an accused rapist. Alyssa Milano, whose star has faded in the real world of acting, gets the attention she craves by polluting her Twitter feed with activist, anti-Trump babble. Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) should have something interesting to say since Disney revived his comatose acting career, but instead, he uses his Twitter feed to promote the #Resistance and tweet such gems as “I hate our President BECAUSE I love our country.” Chelsea Handler, who’s celebrity status I can’t begin to explain, recently called Trump a racist and accused him of being “most likely guilty” of kidnapping, robbery, domestic violence and drug dealing. I guess that’s tamer than calling him “literally Hitler,” but it’s still absurd. There are so many more, but I believe I’ve made my point. None of these celebrities became famous for their politics, but they make more headlines now by spewing unrestrained hatred than they do for their professional exploits. #lovetrumpshate indeed.

If following celebrities on Twitter was ever supposed to be fun, it sure as hell isn’t now, given the divisive, lazy jabber they disgorge on a daily basis. The appeal of Twitter has vanished for many, and they’re a big reason why. Don’t get me wrong: just because I think celebrities shouldn’t devote so much time and energy to political rants and what often amounts to hate speech doesn’t mean I think they don’t have the right to. Celebrities are welcome to have their views and to support causes they believe in. But it seems as though too many are confusing “connecting” with their audience with alienating their audience.

Sure, celebrities might assume that their audience thinks exactly like they do… or maybe they want them to think like they do. The huge ratings of the Roseanne revival even shocked executives at ABC, who apparently couldn’t foresee that a show that doesn’t brand Trump supporters as brainless bigots might actually resonate with viewers who simply want to be entertained and not talked down to. On Twitter, those ratings don’t exist. In the glittering galas in Beverly Hills, half of the country doesn’t exist or doesn’t deserve to exist. Once they “un-personed” flyover country, it became okay, even admirable, to brand Americans as Nazis, killers, bigots, or idiots. Inevitably, that leads to violent fantasies. Twitter shortcuts the mental filter with its convenience and off-the-cuff conversational style. They just can’t help themselves but show their true colors.