I recently read this op-ed type piece in Jezebel, a site that I’m generally on the fence about, called “Follow Me? How Obsessed Fans Use Twitter to Hold Celebrities Hostage” (here). It really bothered me.
Basically, the author is discussing how social media has intensified the “I know and deserve attention from XXX” process/mentality in people, especially in young fans. To wit:
The public has always demanded a certain level of access into the lives of the famous, but fortunately, for most of us, there is an implicit understanding of just how much access is actually reasonable. Of course, there are those people who don’t get this, but usually those people are either a.) mentally ill, b.) assholes who don’t care about anyone else’s autonomy or c.) too young […] to understand that being a fan is not the same thing as knowing someone personally.
Figuring that out is a process that every young fan has to go through and now, in 2013, that process has become even more challenging because of social media. Whereas we — as children, tweens, and teenagers — would have to post physical letters (something that takes time and effort) to the celebrities we were devoted to, kids now can use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It’s easy, it’s instantaneous and, if you want to, you can do it all day. No need to trackdown a fan mail address in Tiger Beat. Today’s heartthrobs are only an @ away…or so it seems.
While this is great news for today’s diehard fans, this limitless accessibility blurs lines in a mildly dangerous way by making people feel entitled […], only magnified. And now they have an audience to egg them on. (full text here)
The author then engages two examples, one moderately entertaining from the past and one moderately disturbing from ’round about right now, under the auspices of showing how – with young fans specifically (the particular topic at hand in the piece) – things have intensified. Sometimes due to the instantaneousness of it all. Sometimes to a scary and dangerous degree.
It’s a compelling and timely thing to consider; but, as the author points out, it’s not just teens who behave in this manner. Adults do it too. And, as I’d like to add, it’s not just boy band heartthrobs and mainstream celebrities who are harassed in this manner – it’s porn performers too.
For the longest time now I’ve been noticing the “bah-lock” phenomenon – when a performer gets so harassed and fed up with a social media fan or follower that they actively block that person. Sadly, oftentimes, the now-blocked person comes back from a new and different angle (different type of social media, different handle, etc). The harassment continues.
I’ve heard countless stories and have read endless horrific statement-threads from “fans” of porn performers – asking for something, begging for something (“follow me!!” – not even a request, a demand), not getting something, then coming back with all kinds of terrible slurs. This is called harassment.
I’ve also read and heard about similar scathing asshole behavior in forums. Now, I get that people like to debrief about stuff – events and happenings and porn scenes. That’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is the cruel and absolutely unnecessary blasting that happens on myriad chat/comment/etc platforms. Some of the stuff you can read… Well, it’s pretty awful.
The pinnacle of nadir points (ha!!) though is when porn performers feel so cornered that they’re compelled to fight back. Now, don’t get me wrong – I love it when a smart woman tells a dumb fuck to fuck off – but I feel strange about how often I see this happening. And I feel extra strange about how often I see/hear about a performer defending a performance (or, like, their existence) in a closed space (forum, etc).
Answer me this – have you ever seen or heard of Brad Pitt (for example) defending a crappy performance – or even a good/”good” but unpopular performance – in a comment thread or forum exchange? No, you have not.
(pictured: I wonder if Brad Pitt’s gonna comment on this?!)
Why is there no recourse for performers? And why is the extreme degree of harassment permitted (e.g. in forums and such)?
Because I get that being a public personality to any degree requires a thick skin, but it seems like more of that proverbial skin (emotional labor) is “required” of porn performers. I don’t think people expect the same level of intimacy from Brad Pitt that they do Ms. XXX, and I’m not sure this ok…
Behold – one of the most ridiculous commercials ever…
Reprinted from PVVOnline.com – Critical Commentary on Adult Production [2010 – 2014]
* * *
Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.