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Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
We used to think it was only our parents and drunk teenagers who committed Internet failure. But for celebrities, every day on Twitter is like your first day in an AOL chat room — a minefield of opportunities for massive public screw-up. Hey, movie star/sports legend/supermodel: What’s the point of standing at the perfect, hip-slimming angle on the red carpet, orchestrating those public moments of casual family bliss, and reeling off those carefully scripted “Tonight Show” anecdotes if you’re just going to blow it all in 140 mouthy, impulsive, poorly spelled characters?
For those of us who prefer our stars unscripted and possibly a little inebriated, of course, Twitter has been a godsend. How else could we keep track of the many, many people Lindsay Lohan despises? But it’s got to make for interesting times for celebrities (not to mention their beleaguered P.R. people). Gone are the days when a paparazzo is forced to dig in the trash or hide in the bushes to find a scandal. Now, thanks to Twitter, the scandal comes straight to our smart phones — and straight from the fingers of the celebs themselves. When so much can go so wrong, it almost makes you wonder why celebrities bother. But Twitter is validation crack. And if there’s anything that celebrities need, it’s validation.
The most recent victim is pop singer Aimee Mann. The gifted songwriter, who’s been compared to Paul McCartney, was probably lounging in her La-Z-Boy in the midst of a particularly disappointing episode of “Law & Order: SVU” when she felt moved to opine, “Christ, there is no reason in the world anyone should ever have cast Ice T in a television show.”
I’m sure it felt like a casual aside. Of course, it was a casual aside accessible to everyone in the world with access to Twitter – including Ice T. Did the man responsible for “Squeeze the Trigger” take offense? Let’s consider his response: “Hey @aimeemann stop worrying bout my acting bitch, and worry about your WACK ass music. In the mean time.. Eat a hot bowl of Dicks! Ice T .”
I’d say yes. Yes he did.
Though the two swiftly made nice (dear lord, please let a musical collaboration come out of this) their spat was a prime example of what Twitter does best — turns “inside” thoughts into episodes of “Oh no, you didn’t!” theater.
Sure, some stars — Conan O’Brien, the Dalai Lama — manage to balance the professional and confessional nicely. But just because Ashton Kutcher has a knack for it doesn’t mean everybody who’s ever been on the cover of People has similar aplomb. And it’s true that some stars start out hopeless but seem to learn as they go along. John Mayer, who recently tweeted that the medium is “like day-trading in a 24 hour ego stock exchange,” isn’t half the douchebomb he was in his TMI heyday. And Scott Baio won’t be making any cracks about Michelle Obama again any time soon. Then there are those remain forever shambling freak shows, but hey, that’s their shtick. The day Courtney Love becomes coherent on- or offline, the end is surely upon us. (Based on her recent tweet to Billy Corgan — “Billy crikey and i just was reminicisng to the nme how good you were in bed back in the day, i know i know but shit i remember it all!” — the Twilight of the Gods is likely not at hand.)
But some celebs are causing serious Twitter concern. Kirstie Alley’s bid for legitimacy is not being aided by her insistence on tweeting batshit. Jim Carrey, when even CNN is doing stories about the lunacy of your updates, your updates are loony. Consider his post about Elin Nordegren (only days after his own split with Jenny McCarthy was trumpeted via tweet): “No wife is blind enough to miss that much infidelity. Elin had 2 b a willing participant on the ride 4 whatever reason. kids/lifestyle ;^)” OK, that little funny face at the end? It doesn’t really mute the strangeness. In fact, it merely enhances it, like salt on nutty.
The rest of us slobs don’t have a team of agents and handlers micromanaging our public image. We just stumble around the planet saying inappropriate things because nobody’s stopping us. Celebrities, on the other hand, do. (Hence the rise of the “ghost tweeter.”) You’d think, then, that they’d be better at this thing — but wow, are they not.
No matter how rich or famous a person may be, at some point, anyone can wind up alone late at night, with a box of chardonnay and a few big ideas. No five hours in the stylist’s chair. No Spanx. No coaching. And in those moments, anyone can be provocative and banal and ticked off and, well, just plain dumb. As it turns out, celebrities: They really are just like us.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)