Are Movie Stars Tweeting Their Careers Into Oblivion?

Matt here... Introducing a feature from Alex Lawson who pitched this article to me last week. Hopefully he is gonna stick around and write some more... It€™s not an unfamiliar concept. You€™ve probably heard it from a friend. Or a friend of a friend of roommate€™s cousin or some such thing. It€™s an all-too-common phenomenon, wherein the formerly pristine image of a famous or prominent individual is summarily demolished when it becomes apparent that this celebrity is, in fact, a total douche. You may have heard something like this in the past. For instance, during a trip to Las Vegas, I started chatting with a blackjack dealer who said he dealt several games for George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon et al when they were shooting €œOcean€™s Eleven.€ He attested that all of them could not have been nicer, more down to earth guys€.save for Andy Garcia. He said Garcia behaved like a self-important, uppity blowhard every time he came to the casino. The dealer said he€™s never looked at Andy Garcia the same way again and that he will devalue any work he does for the rest of his career. I told the dealer that was really too bad. That said, I didn€™t have any hard feelings about Andy Garcia, because I never saw first hand how much of jerk he supposedly was in real life. And really, I don€™t lead the kind of life that allows me to run into celebrities on a regular basis, so I was never too worried about the images of my favorite movie stars becoming sullied. That is, of course, until Twitter was born. Now, I€™ve just checked my calendar and I can see first hand that it is not 2008 and I don€™t have to tell you about what a game-changer this ubiquitous social media behemoth is for our culture. And the changes in the game are almost completely positive in nature. You€™re telling me I can get an unfiltered, unfettered glimpse into Steve Martin€™s mind? I can instantly know what side-splitting observations Stephen Colbert is making about the Grammys? I can even have Donald Glover€™s tweets sent to my phone and pretend like he€™s texting me and that we are friends? This is terrific! The only problem is that not all of your favorite celebrities are as brilliant as the three I just mentioned (some of the best tweeters in the game, I might add). Sometimes a few innocent mouse clicks can reveal the kind of confounding horror that just can€™t be unseen. I€™m speaking most directly about the Twitter feed of one John Cusack. If you follow John Cusack, you know precisely what I€™m talking about. If you don€™t, you€™ve likely read about it. Basically, everyone€™s favorite everyman€™s Twitter feed contains a seemingly unending cavalcade of manic, incoherent and gratingly persistent pseudo-political musings whose spelling and structure leave a lot to be desired. Now, the Twitterverse is filled to the brim with celebrities tweeting about dumb stuff. If Twitter was all we had to go on to evaluate the human race, Tila Tequila, Kim Kardashian and P. Diddy would all be summarily escorted to the middle of the North Woods and left to the animals. Of course the big hang-up here is that I don€™t particularly care for any of those people to begin with. On the other hand, being a 20-something white male from Chicago with a devil-may-care wit who has been unlucky in love and knows a little bit too much about stuff that is not really important, I pray to the altar of John Cusack. I started following John Cusack about a year ago and, when I realized his tweets were reminiscent of the rantings of that pontificating pipsqueak in your college poli sci lecture, I quickly unfollowed him and hoped I could simply put it out of my mind. I thought I had sufficiently moved on until a few weeks ago when I popped in High Fidelity, the €œCasablanca€ of Cusack movies. It€™s all there: male frustration, heartbreak, smart, eloquent musings on pop culture. It€™s a beacon of promise and affirmation for anyone who€™s ever been dumped, taken back, dumped again and maybe even done some dumping over their own. The linchpin of the whole movie rests on Cusack€™s patented everyman appeal. As lovelorn music savant Rob Gordon, he is the kind of guy we would all want to hang out with. Even better, he is the kind of guy we see ourselves as. Smart yet not offensively nerdy. Self-deprecating yet not a sad sack. A man who has been blindsided by the freight train of love gone wrong time and time again yet soldiers on, wiser from his misfortunes. I€™ve seen the movie more times than I can count. It€™s the kind of movie that gains resonance as you get older and learn more about yourself, the way you interact with the opposite sex, and how you deal with the adversity that arises out of those interactions. And while of these qualities come to a crest in €œHigh Fidelity,€ they are essentially the qualities out of which Cusack has maintained a career. I always assumed there was a very blurry line where Cusack ended and his phalanx of affable leading men began. But, this time, I saw Rob Gordon not as immaculately reliable hero, but rather as the man who, of his own volition, tweeted these two things within hours of each other:
€œjehovaD darkfoxfire€
€œwhat am i a bowl of fruit that peels itself? im nota thing to be consumed...€
Things like this shouldn€™t matter. I know that. I know that by writing this I€™m risking coming off looking like one of those goofy housewives who get way too into soap operas and lose their grasp on reality. But it did matter. The credibility and relatability of the character was all for naught, completely undone by the harsh and unforgiving reality of€well€reality. I don€™t think I€™m being dramatic when I say that I don€™t know when I€™ll be able to have an unencumbered viewing of High Fidelity ever again. It€™s a not something I enjoy thinking about. If we can safely label Cusack as an annoyingly juvenile tweeter, then Jim Carrey would be the Twitter equivalent of a child who doesn€™t have the sense not to touch a hot stove after it€™s burned him seven times in a row. In Cusack€™s defense, he at least approaches a rational though from time to time. In contrast, Jim Carrey unfurls a torrid mess of mildly creepy @ replies, nonsense phrases and veiled sexual advances, all laden with dumbfoundingly ornate and obnoxious emoticons. Now, the impact on some of my favorite Jim Carrey movies has not been similar to that of High Fidelity I just recently re-watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the film remains great for all the reasons you already know. I think the reason Carrey€™s onscreen persona remains unblemished by his actual persona is because he is, primarily, a comedic actor. I€™ve always been of the opinion that comedians are harnessing and channeling an abundance of dark, weird energy to make their art and it doesn€™t really surprise that Carrey expresses himself in that fashion on the Internet, no matter how weird it might be. So, that leaves us with the Cusack dilemma. The real irony here is that I should actually respect him more as an actor. The fact that he can dispatch with all the nonsense that is coursing through his head at any given moment and deliver one kickass normal guy performance after another is really a testament to his talent. Yet still, I€™m left cold. I€™m forever exercising caution when I begin following a new celebrity whose work I admire. I don€™t want to not be able to enjoy I Love You, Man because it turns out Paul Rudd has a weird sense of humor and a penchant for poor spelling and punctuation. So maybe I should just leave the internet, right? Go the old timers€™ route and cut myself off from technology, free to enjoy my favorite movies and television shows in ignorant bliss. Well, we both know that€™s not going to happen. After all, I€™ve got more OWF features to write. I guess I€™ll just say tread carefully out on those internets, you guys. Celebrities are essentially just people who were so weird that people decided to give them money. Never forget that.
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