When did celebrities get so fucking sensitive?

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When did celebrities get so fucking sensitive?

They’re attacking civilians online and IRL

The relationship between celebrities and ordinary people has always been a complicated one — sometimes adoring, sometimes adversarial.

On the one hand, celebrities usually have a passionate fanbase that derives immense pleasure and enjoyment from supporting them, listening to their music, buying tickets to their concerts, and watching their movies. But celebrities are also frequently the subject of ridicule and criticism, ranging from harmless jabs to vitriolic bigotry.

In the past, the dialogue between celebrities and laypeople was purely one-way. Celebrities would exist and operate in a different realm from ordinary people, and the rest of us would sit by and comment on their actions knowing that there was little chance that they would ever know — or care — about what we were saying. Celebrities were brands, not people. They were untouchable, insulated by wealth and fame, and we derived enjoyment from watching and talking about their lives from afar.

Nowadays, thanks to Instagram and Twitter, fans have closer access to their favorite celebrities, and in turn, celebrities have an easier and less unfiltered way to reach their audience. With a few strokes of the keyboard, any ordinary person can speak directly to a celebrity — and if they get noticed, the celebrity might even personally respond to them. In this way, social media has undoubtedly helped facilitate closer and more authentic relationships between fans and celebrities.

But social media also makes it easier for celebrities to fight back against their critics…even when their critics are random teenagers

In particular, it has made it easier for celebrities to not only detect criticism from regular people, but also respond to them publicly. And recently, it appears that celebrities have become extremely sensitive about any criticism, no matter how minor.

There have been a slew of examples in the past few months where celebrities have publicly attacked ordinary people who gently criticized or teased them.

On Tuesday, Blake Lively criticized the Instagrammer @fashion_critic_who shared an image of Blake wearing a suit along with the caption: “It’s suit number 1,356 for Blake Lively’s promotion of A Simple Favor.”

Although this caption is fairly innocuous, Lively took offense to it and wrote, “Would you note a man wearing lots of suits during a promo tour? ?? So why can’t a woman? Just sayinnnn. No double standards ladies ??” The Instagrammer quickly apologized and explained it was “just an attempt at humour,” and Lively responded that she was “just lookin’ to encourage women to do what men do without being teased for it.”

However, since Lively herself responded to this post, @fashion_critic_’s post quickly blew up and attracted a fair amount of spiteful comments. “Too bad y’all can’t afford her style,” one person teased. Another said, “Your comment was snotty just own it.”

On Wednesday, Lili Reinhart attacked and sent her fans to harass a Twitter user named Emily who has 570 followers. Emily had shared a screenshot of a text conversation with her friend where they discuss the Riverdale star. “She is so 2013 tumblr,” she wrote in the screenshot. “She probably tells him to touch her butt and buy her pizza.”

Reinhart retweeted this to her 2 million followers with the caption: “No no…I tell him to touch me ~everywhere~ and then we eat Chinese food. Get your facts straight, Emily.” Reinhart's tweet instantly blew up, with over 22,000 retweets at the time of this post and thousands of people replying with things like “rip Emily” and “don’t dare to mess with Lili Reinhart and her bae.”

And since Reinhart retweeted Emily’s tweet, people also started going to Emily’s Twitter profile to personally harass her with hateful comments like “she ended you,” “don’t hate on my queen,” “when jealousy makes you stupid,” and “why would Cole wanna date someone like you anyways?”

On June 29, Toronto-based writer Wanna Thompson tweeted a gentle criticism of Nicki Minaj’s music. “You know how dope it would be if Nicki put out mature content?” Thompson tweeted. “No silly shit. Just reflecting on past relationships, being a boss, hardships, etc. She’s touching 40 soon, a new direction is needed.”

Minaj did not take kindly to this mild critique. The world-famous rapper herself sent two vulgar and hateful direct messages to Thompson on Twitter, which were screenshotted and posted by Thompson. “Eat a dick u hating ass hoe,” Minaj wrote in her vicious tirade. “Just say u jealous I’m rich, famous intelligent, pretty and go! But wait! Leave my balls! Tired of you sucking them.”

This hasn’t even been the first time that Minaj has singled out a regular person for abuse. On June 15, cultural commentator Jerome Trammel criticized Minaj for her slut-shaming comments in Elle. In response, Minaj retweeted Jerome’s tweet with an expletive-filled caption that started, “Suck my dick ASSHOLE.” Given her huge Twitter following, thousands of her fans went directly to Jerome’s profile and started harassing him with threats of death and violence. Some fans even posted his home address, forcing him to take legal action.

Celebrities, therefore, haven’t just become increasingly sensitive and easily offended. They have also become frighteningly vengeful, and they’re not afraid to use their massive reach and influence on social media to attack their critics, dish out a hefty dose of public humiliation, and even encourage thousands of their fans to harass them personally.

This begs many, many questions: How do these celebrities even find these tweets? Do they Google their own names every 5 minutes? Don’t they have something better to do with their lives than respond to a random “hater” online? Don’t they have enough money, enough fame, enough prestige to not feel threatened by a light-hearted insult (after all, “so 2013 tumblr” doesn’t exactly constitute hate speech) dished out by an 18-year-old girl from the middle of nowhere who only has 500 followers on Twitter? Why on earth are celebrities so sensitive these days?

The hyper-sensitivity might come from the relatively new concept of complete narrative control

Social media has granted celebrities an unprecedented level of control over branding and an ability to almost single-handedly dictate the narrative about themselves. Whereas in the past celebrities relied heavily on interviews and magazine profiles to get the word out about new projects, celebrities today can simply send a tweet or post a photo on Instagram to shape the conversation around them directly.

The result, however, is that celebrities have grown increasingly intolerant of third-party attempts to wrest control of the narrative away from them. It is for this reason that celebrities are starting to turn down interview requests from journalists, as the New York Times reported. Celebrities such as Taylor Swift haven’t granted a substantive interview in years, and those who do express unhappiness over not being able to control the direction of the interview.

In September, Gomez took to Instagram to criticize the reporter who profiled her for Elle. In particular, Gomez was upset that the reporter discussed aspects of her personal life such as her involvement with church, rather than focusing exclusively on the three specific things that Gomez wanted to talk about.

“There’s always agenda seeking information on such a subject and I understand why,” Gomez wrote. “I understand that reporters are working to grab the attention of a reader, however I will always work to ensure that what is public represents my truth. I’m a bit bummed but rarely surprised.”

And perhaps this — this fear of losing control of the narrative, this disdain for anyone who says something about them that they disagree with — is also the reason why celebrities have grown so thin-skinned in the face of criticism. Social media, therefore, has not only caused celebrities to become more sensitive to perceived slights. It has also handed them the tools to exert their power and influence over the ordinary people who dare to criticize them.

@nian_hu