Posts tagged Celebrity
Posts tagged Celebrity
The internet complicates the old fan taxonomy, and Johnson’s self-awarely intense approach complicates it much further. My first instinct, that Johnson has taken this much too far, would have been undoubtedly correct in a different decade. Today, parts of it feel familiar. I hurl an endless stream of veiled self-promotion onto Twitter with comparatively little feedback, and allowing yourself to believe you’re being seen when you’re probably not is as close to a pithy summation of social media culture as I can come up with. There’s something almost reportorial about what Johnson is doing, which I was constantly reminded of as I was working on this story, knowing that Johnson could see every time I went back to read one of his messages.
Some interesting thoughts on the relationship between fandom and celebrity.
Johnson, 27, lives in Davis, California with his wife and two kids. He has written extensively about his experience growing up as one of “the only black people” in his peer group, through poverty and domestic instability (he moved over a dozen times as a child). He played basketball in school with the hope of making it his career. Eventually, he settled into a counselor’s job at a local junior high, and coached basketball at another; his wife had started a photography business. When his job was eliminated due to budget cuts, he took the opportunity to start writing. He formed a company and started self-publishing. It was Johnson the writer — specifically, at the time, a memoirist — that started writing to Jay-Z.
“If someone says it’s weird or creepy, I say they’re not trying hard enough in life,” Johnson told me over the phone. He understands how it all looks — the years of emailing, the personal tone of the messages, the fact that he sends from his wife’s email address — but it doesn’t bother him. “The reason why you think it’s creepy is because you’ve never suffered before.”
“[Jay] has opened every single one of my emails, even re-opening them to re-read,” says Johnson. “He has clicked on links and had emails open for as long as 20 minutes.” He knows this because he uses a tool called ReadNotify, which embeds a small, unique invisible image in every message he sends. When the message is opened, the image loads from ReadNotify’s servers, which record the time of the view, its duration and rough location. ReadNotify then gives the sender a read receipt, confirming that the message was seen. These services have been around for years, and they work — this kind of “bugging” is an old email marketing trick.
Writing over two hundred emails to a celebrity is a little strange, but I wouldn’t describe it as creepy until the detail that he sent all the lettere from his wife’s email address. Why not send it in your own voice? Even creepier is the detail about the bugging.
Celebrities have traditionally used handlers and publicists to protect them from fans and from themselves. But Twitter’s ability to connect them directly to their audiences has made it the garbage dump of choice for their every opinion and non sequitur.
In other words, it’s a public gaffe waiting to happen.
Interesting. This roughly correlates with my experience, where most celebrity accounts have been largely dormant for long periods of time.
(Source: The New York Times)