Delete fast: when celebrities get it wrong on social media

We are living through tumultuous times, offering celebrities a chance to express their deepest feelings to millions of followers through social media. Sometimes they get the tone all wrong…

The life of a celebrity is never easy, loaded as it is with relentlessly difficult decisions, such as how to find the optimum camera angle for a selfie. Imagine then, how much harder our celebrities’ lives become when a global tragedy occurs, and they have to decide not only on the camera angle, but whether they should be doing a sadface selfie, in keeping with the public mood, or a sexy smiling one to cheer everybody up. All right I’m joking – but only just, because Hollywood actor Mischa Barton recently had to delete an Instagram post for exactly that reason. It’s a tricky one, because what she wrote was an impassioned and political rant about the death of yet another black man, Alton Sterling, at the hands of US police, and the need for gun control and race awareness in her country. Yet what she wrote was beside a photograph of herself speeding along on the back of a luxury yacht. In a bikini. With her eyes closed, looking humbled by her own thoughtfulness. One fan commented, rather politely really, that while they agreed with “the sentiment” it was “hard to take you seriously while you post a picture of you sipping alcohol on a yacht”.

A few years ago this was all so much easier. Enormous world events such as 9/11 could happen, and we barely heard a peep out of any celebs, because they didn’t have social media. Well apart from Lee Ryan from Blue, who did manage to broadcast his interesting view that nobody should give “a f**k about New York, when elephants are being killed”. Many have learned from his mistake, and learned to keep quiet about their zoological/human preference. But there are still so many other faux pas that a poor celebrity can make.

Mischa Barton on a police killing

Cruising into controversy: Mischa Barton composes a post
Cruising into controversy: Mischa Barton composes a post Photograph: Instagram

Shivering in her white shirt, Mischa Barton shows that the killing, just like her white privilege, leaves her chilled. Zoom into the glass in her hand and you see the clear liquid it contains is actually a vale of tears, captured as they fall from her eyes. Or it could be a slimline vodka tonic. Hard to be sure.

Jennifer Lopez on black lives matter

Jlo and friend on twitter
Show of strength: JLo says all lives matter Photograph: Twitter

Trying to show her understanding of the Black Lives Matter campaign, J Lo wrote something on Twitter saying that All Lives Matter, too. Which, of course, they do, but not all lives are getting shot at just now, so it’s hardly a mark of solidarity to take away from the black movement that’s trying to be heard. J-Lo, it’s not about you this time. She later deleted it.

Madonna on the Orlando massacre

Madonna and Britney get intimate on stage
Kiss and make it better: Madonna and Britney get intimate on stage Photograph: Twitter

After the Orlando massacre in a nightclub, Madonna reached out to show that her heart was deeply entrenched in gay culture – by uploading a photo of her snogging Britney Spears on stage to cash in on a bit of pretend lesbo attention, while they both had boyfriends at home. A heartfelt commenter wrote: “OK, it’s time to lay off the memes, sis.”

Bianca Jagger on the Iraq War

Bianca Jagger outside a building dressed in white
Right idea, wrong list…: Bianca Jagger Photograph: Nick Harvey/REX/Shutterstock

The internet is a risky place, where you can retweet something you haven’t actually read, at 4am. Bianca Jagger tweeted a list of Labour MPs who voted in the Iraq War so we could all shout at them, not stopping to notice that this curious list also denoted them as “Negro”, “Infamous homosexual”, or “Judeo-negress hybrid”. Oops.


Sophie Heawood

The GuardianTramp

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