Celebrities who have said 'No' to Twitter
Why are so many stars choosing to be famous the old-fashioned way?
Published 08/08/2014 | 02:30
Jillian Banks - she would prefer you refer to her simply as Banks - is a different sort of pop star: mysterious, elusive, not afraid of coming across as deeply secretive.
Such is her determination to side-step the spotlight even as she plans world domination for her music (expect her to be all over radio with her debut album next month) the Los Angeles singer has gone where, until recently, few of her record industry peers would dare and taken a vow of virtual chastity: no Facebook, no Pinterest, above all no Twitter.
"I didn't have a Twitter or Facebook account before my career - why should I have one now?" she says. "Everyone makes their own music: why shouldn't everyone make their own way to connect with music? [Besides], people say horrible things on the internet."
In a world of selfie-snapping Gagas, Instagram-crazy Mileys and Tweet-fueled Kardashians, at cursory inspection her reluctance to disseminate every last private detail may seem strange. Actually, Banks is arguably symptomatic of a wider trend among celebrities - away from the open door of Twitter towards a more old-fashioned stardom, harking to an era when famous people were essentially unknowable and we projected our own idea of who they were on to their blank outlines.
One of the most vocal advocates of non-tweeting celebs is George Clooney, an actor who has combined ubiquity, activism and a colourful love life while always feeling a little beyond our reach, the way matinee idols used to be back in the day. Among other factors he puts this down to his resolve not to over share. All you need know is that he's a decent leading man and a dapper dresser. Beyond that, well, frankly, it's none of your business.
"If you're famous, I don't - for the life of me - I don't understand why any famous person would ever be on Twitter," he said to Esquire magazine recently. "Why on God's green earth would you be on Twitter? Because first of all, the worst thing you can do is make yourself more available, right? Because you're going to be available to everybody. But also Twitter. So one drunken night, you come home and you've had two too many drinks and you're watching TV and somebody pisses you off, and you go 'Ehhhhh' and fight back.
"And you go to sleep, and you wake up in the morning and your career is over. Or you're an asshole. Or all the things you might think in the quiet of your drunken evening are suddenly blasted around the entire world before you wake up."
Clooney cites Brad Pitt as an example of a 'famous' - the word is now a noun apparently - who has survived by keeping much of his life off limits. Pitt's insight is to understand profile does not equal success. "He [is] unavailable," says Clooney. "He's still a giant movie star because you can't get to him. That doesn't mean that I don't think of him as incredibly talented and smart and all those things. But you also can't get to him."
Echoing these sentiments is Daniel Radcliffe, the Harry Potter actor who appears to have avoided the curse of the child star with his healthy and varied post-Hogwarts career. Explaining his low profile off screen he laid out two golden rules: never go to movie premieres unless you're actually in the movie and don't engage with social media. "I don't have Twitter and I don't have Facebook and I think that makes things a lot easier," he explains, "because if you go on Twitter and tell everybody what you're doing moment to moment and then claim you want a private life, then no one is going to take that request seriously."
For some in the entertainment industry the no-Twitter rule is about protecting your professional standing as much as ring-fencing your personal life. Tweet too much, says actor Bradley Cooper, and audiences will think they know you: bad news when your job depends on passing yourself off as fictional character. A whiff of mystery is an essential element of every good performer's tool-kit.
"If I know so much about you and you're playing a character in a movie then that's a lot of work I'm gonna have to do to forget who you are so that I can believe the character and therefore enjoy the movie."
Then there are the celebs who, like many in the real world, are simply baffled by social media. What, they wonder, is it for?
"I don't have a Facebook or a Twitter account," says Scarlett Johansson, "and I don't know how I feel about this idea of, 'Now, I'm eating dinner, and I want everyone to know that I'm having dinner at this time,' or, 'I just mailed a letter and dropped off my kids.' That, to me, is a very strange phenomenon. I can't think of anything I'd rather do less than have to continuously share details of my everyday life."
She isn't alone. Indeed you suspect those - celebs and otherwise - who feel the same will to grow in number.
George Clooney has warned a rash tweet could destroy a celebrity's career. Here are some famous types who got a little carried away on social media.
There are Twitter meltdowns and then there is Alec Baldwin. Last year he vowed he was quitting social media having labelled a newspaper reporter a "toxic little queen" in response to a story claiming his wife had been tweeting at the funeral of actor James Gandolfini. That followed his 'live tweeting' a row with an airline cabin crew member who requested he stop playing a game on his phone as the plane prepared for take off. He has since returned to Twitter.
The rapper is about to release a new single. She will hope her reputation has recovered from her Twitter spat with blogger Perez Hilton, during which she flung the 'f' word.
As other Twitter users piled on, she tried to clarify. "A f****t is not a homosexual male. A f****t is any male who acts like a female. There's a BIG difference." Ouch. She has also waged Twitter tirades with rapper Angel Haze and Irish socialite Amanda Brunker.
Fans were unhappy when Minaj cancelled a date in Dublin and at the UK's V Festival. Rather than take it on the chin, Minaj hit back.
"Like people are hitting me telling me I should've mimed. No! Then you woulda made a f*cking STORY out of that too! #killyaf*ckingself"
He may project a glowering aloofness in public, however, on Twitter you can sense Kanye is feeling the pressure. "I can't be everybody's hero and villain savior and sinner Christian and anti Christ!" he tweeted.
Love aired her unhappiness with daughter Frances on her 18th birthday, when she tweeted, "you've done a dammed good job Frances of destroying anything I could build that is positive, and I want to know why now that you're of age?"