Andy Warhol would have loved Twitter. He would have loved having followers, particularly if there was an impact on his brand – and revenue. He would have loved following celebrities – both those he knew personally and those he did not know. He would have loved the empty shout outs of a public tweet and the instant intimacy of a private message. Warhol was an avid follower of box office revenue and open access to a metric such as how many followers someone had would have made him happy. Not to mention the actual content, such as Cher’s mystifying tweets.
Warhol would have been intrigued by the possibilities begat through instant communication between a fan in the Midwest and her idol in Los Angeles. What a joy it must be to a Rihanna fan when Rihanna retweets the fan’s tweet. It is like the fan letter of yore but with an added dollop of dialogue. It promises a level of intimacy never before reached between celebrity and fan.
Brigitte Nielsen famously sent a fan letter and a revealing photograph to Sylvester Stallone when she was 22 years old. She professed her love for him in the letter and they eventually met and married. Today a fan can tweet a note and an image to a celebrity. Has a celebrity married a Twitter follower yet? I don’t know but it is bound to happen – hopefully with better results. (Stallone and Nielsen divorced two years after marrying).
Twitter also takes the press out of the equation, particularly with newer or faded personalities who don’t have proper media handlers. A ridiculous or inflammatory tweet will live on forever, regardless of deleting it. Amanda Bynes was a child star and had a promising career but soon became known for her outrageous tweets more than anything else. No one was quite sure whether she was a girl in trouble or a deliberate move to keep a stalled career going. She has subsequently reformed her Twitter account and now appears to be on a different path but will continue to be defined by her former Twitter presence unless she does something else of note.
Phones and Texting
Warhol would have loved mobile technology, as well. He enjoyed talking on the telephone and it often made him late. Being freed from a landline would have made him very happy. Warhol would have relished texting, too, particularly for the times he did not have the energy to talk. Texting would have enabled him to let his friends ramble while he texted back short replies such as “why?” or “I don’t know.” He would have been able to juggle multiple texting conversations, simultaneously, while perusing a flea market. Or eBay.
Selfies and Sexting
The first person I ever witnessed aim a phone at herself and snap a photo was Martha Stewart, at a Women Chefs and Restaurateurs event back in 2009. At the time I was fascinated and thought it was evidence of an out of control ego. I later learned that she had been blogging since 2007 and had embraced the medium early, recognizing the value of a good, sloppy selfie long before her peers. When I watched her photograph herself, I immediately thought of Warhol, as I later did at the 2014 Academy Awards during the “Brad Pitt, Ellen Degeneres, Jennifer Lawrence, et al.” selfie heard round the world. One could easily imagine Warhol holding a phone at arm’s length as Bianca Jagger and Halston and Liza Minnelli flanked him at Studio 54.
A voyeur, Warhol would have enjoyed sexting and selfies. His own selfies would have been PG but he was always curious about what someone looked like naked and would have would have encouraged receiving lewd images on his phone. He undoubtedly would have forwarded them, to his pals, as well.
Taylor Swift recently penned a Wall Street Journal editorial where she observed that her fans do not want her autograph anymore, just selfies with her. It is probably a case of replacing “I have something of Taylor’s” to “I know Taylor and I can prove I know Taylor.” I suspect all of the selfies fans take with her are broadcast out via social media because what does it matter that you “know” Taylor Swift if you can’t share it with everyone on Facebook?