Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The 'Ump: Twitter Twats

While it’s safe to say The Sloppy Dog is rarely a beacon of positivity, we’ve done rather well in keeping our rage under control over the past few years. That’s technically our way of dressing up the lack of entries in The ‘Ump column as a good thing – see, surely that’s positivity in itself? Well, we’re bringing the camel out of retirement. Take cover.

Twitter is a funny old thing, isn’t it? It’s sort of like the acceptable face of celebrity stalking, whilst simultaneously providing news outlets with any number of stories off the back of a single 140-character tweet. But recent tweets (and we do feel ashamed at using that word so freely) have shown that bridging the gap between artist and fan isn’t always a good thing.

Sure, Lily Allen uses hers to spout the self-indulgent crap she always peddled on MySpace, albeit in a more concise manner. But Twitter also allows fans – or more accurately, non-fans – to answer back, to agree or disagree as they see fit, and to address her directly. And what’s worse, she often chooses to answer them back.

Let’s face it, Lily Allen could start a fight with her own reflection in a puddle, and the more headlines generated as a result, the better. But there’s a growing trend of artists taking a wee bit too much notice of criticism, musicians with a great deal more self-respect than the likes of Lil.

VV Brown – a superb artist whose underperformance may well be frustrating, but by no means has anything to worry about – has gone to the lengths of penning a song off the back of the pessimistic chattering over at the increasingly-painful Popjustice messageboard, and openly namechecked forum users whose comments she found particularly unpleasant.

Meanwhile, both Adam Lambert and the Lostprophets have recently taken to defending their actions on Twitter, after snarky fans that actively chose to stand in the cold following gigs got stroppy because they didn’t get an autograph. Jesus wept, kiddies! These are working musicians, not half-arsed clowns you can hire out for children’s parties. Presumably, they have a schedule that doesn’t always allow for scribbling their name on a Starbucks napkin 100 times over.

Yes, it’s the fans who put them where they are, and yes, it would be lovely if they could spend time with them. Is it realistic? No. Sadly, however, the sense of entitlement carried by fans lately has grown significantly, perhaps to worrying proportions. Evidently, it’s not enough to support a band, to enjoy their music or to catch them live.

One particular example would be when your fatigued correspondent made shameful peanuts a living working on the deservedly-defunct CD:UK. A particularly psychotic Westlife fan – ugly, dumpy, and old enough to know better – begged for a message to be taken to Mark Feehily, demanding to know whether he’d be attending that evening’s charity ball for Capital FM, as she needed to know ahead of time if she should stand outside or not. There was no real degree of desperation, no archetypal boyband-fan panting. This was out of duty, almost routine on her part. Chillingly so, in fact.

Perhaps this is all a tad hypocritical. After all, The Sloppy Dog itself is a living, breathing criticism behemoth. But there’s a sizeable difference between scrutinising a band’s work, and getting involved in an open slanging match for the entire internet to gleefully observe. Maybe it’s up to the artists to remember their position and not lower themselves to retort to bratty emo whining, but at the same time, they can’t be blamed for wanting to defend themselves. Maybe, then, it’s up to the fans to show a little bit of respect, and to realise there’s a fine line between fandom and being a complete fucking freakshow.

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