@-ing the Celebrity: Famous People’s Online Personalities

Thanks to the internetz (the “z” is for ironic geeky effect, you see), the general public can now “connect” with celebrities via sites like Twitter and personal blogs. Both of these social networking tools have become almost vital for any modern-day famous person. And we can’t get enough of it.

Though still, a lot of people say, “I don’t want to know what celebrities are doing at all times.” But really, who are these people? I, for one, thoroughly (and sometimes guiltily) enjoy seeing what my favorite celebrities are up to at random times of a given day. On Twitter alone, I am following a diverse range of talent and TV personalities. I only follow “the ones I really care about,” with the exception of a few randoms. But the bottom line is: These famous people entertain and interest me with their daily 140-character thoughts and musings.

While I’m very disappointed that Kanye West does not cross-post his unnecessarily all-caps and exclamation-point-infused rantings on Twitter, HIS BLOG………WILL HAVE TO DO FOR NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………. If you are looking for more celebrity blogs to check out, Bloggers Blog has a pretty nice list for you.

But Twitter – now that’s where all the fun is. With the exception of extremely busy and powerful talents like Madonna and Beyoncé, most celebrity tweets are pretty readily available because everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. For instance, I recently saw @jessicaalba on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and she discussed how she had just started using Twitter. She proceeded to take a picture of Fallon and herself with her camera phone to tweet to her fans.

Occurrences like these – where you can see a celebrity do one thing and then instantaneously see it again on their online profile – feel like a sort of breaking of the fourth wall. Not only can we obsess unhealthily about famous people we’ll never meet, but now we can be that much closer to them and pretend like we’re friends on Twitter?! Who wouldn’t fall for that! It really makes me wonder what kind of restraining order could have been filed against my Fifth Grade Self if Twitter had existed back during the days of Titanic and Leonardo DiCaprio had an account…

I mean…Ahem, yes…The matter at hand. Celebrity Twitter accounts can be amusing, envy-inducing, or even helpful. For example, I follow @Sn00ki because she constantly tweets self-taken photos of herself smirking in her bedroom; @mindykaling because she always has some funny commentary on pop culture events; @StacyLondonSays because she actually takes the time to give out fashion advice to her followers; @_M_I_A_ for her Kanye-esque typing style with an intense political stance; and @solangeknowles (my favorite tweeter of all) so I can drown in envy at her awesome fashion sense and cool lifestyle where she DJs for a hobby.

I’m not sure how those above-mentioned names all happen to be women (I really must be a feminist?), but that’s just me. My main point is that there’s some celeb-Twitter love out there for everyone. It must be the invasiveness and self-awareness of it all that really fascinates us. So if you get your kicks from knowing too much about famous people’s lives just like I do, I’d love to hear your favorite A-list or lower-list Twitter accounts.

And just for the hell of it in case anyone was wondering… it’s @colleenclaes.

Blogging as a Beacon of Hope in ‘Julie & Julia’

Amy Adams as Julie Powell in 'Julie & Julia,' 2009

Yes, I’m a little late on the Julie & Julia (2009) bandwagon. Since this isn’t for the purpose of review, let me summarize mine in one sentence: It was cute, sometimes annoying (mostly due to Julie and husband), but overall entertaining and hunger-inducing. Oh, and Meryl Streep was brilliant, of course…Okay I lied. Two sentences.

Aside from Streep’s performance as Julia Child, the part of the film that was most fascinating to me was Julie Powell. Not as a character, really, or even as a person (because she is real, after all.) Rather, it was her circumstance that was thought-provoking.

Her side of the story takes place in New York City 2002. 9/11 is ever-present in Powell’s life seeing as how she works as some sort of “customer service” representative for victims of the terrorist attack, or anyone complaining about plans to rebuild the World Trade Center. This, obviously, leaves a dark cloud hanging over her life. On top of that, she’s anxious about turning thirty because she has yet to accomplish her career goals.

There’s a scene early on in her storyline where Julie goes to meet up with “friends” for lunch. Though it makes absolutely no sense why this woman would be friends with these superficial and egotistical females, the lunch scene gives us a further glimpse into Julie’s situation. She’s not doing what she wants to do, people remind her of it constantly, and she feels like a failure. No, not just a failure. The best kind – a failed writer.

Now I don’t say that facetiously. Though, you have to admit, it’s an unfortunate common trend in the line of “failures.” But this is where Julie’s circumstance really starts to hit home. We find out that she graduated college with high hopes from herself and everyone else of becoming a successful writer. However, she’s bummed because she apparently had a book deal that fell through. She repeats self-deprecating remarks about her inability to finish anything, and yet she yearns to break free of her monotonous and emotionally draining job. She wants to be published.

And that’s where the blogging comes in. Blogs (“web logs”) have become increasingly popular in the late 90s and the 2000s. Julie entertains the idea of starting one, and her husband  encourages her saying it’s the easiest way to get recognized and published these days. After much debate on what to write about, it hits her that she loves cooking and has a special place in her heart for Julia Child. And thus, the rest is (recent) history.

Honestly, it was a bit strange to watch someone blog in a movie. I’m not sure why, but I guess it’s never really been explored so in-depth before in the context of a film. In this one, it’s half about blogging. And on top of it, Julie Powell becomes a successful writer because of the popularity of her blog, The Julie/Julia Project. More and more, the offers start pouring in, leading to book deals, agents, interviews, etc. (And as the end credits cheesily point out – a movie deal.)

I think Julie Powell’s character represents a lot of things, especially in the current economic times. She represents loss of dreams, disappointment upon graduation, and years of temp jobs she could’ve done better than. She also represents modern-day hope, success via online writing, and accomplishment when she least expected it.

This part of the film, I think, speaks very clearly to our generation – particularly the graduates in their twenties. To tell you the truth, blogging has been my sort of miniature savior in a time of recent post-graduation, bad economic climate, limited jobs, and seemingly nonexistent jobs in what I studied. As corny as it sounds, a comment and a page view trigger that little voice in the very back of my head saying, This is what you were supposed to do. So I’m thankful for blogging, the internet, and the accessible ways in which us writers and creatives can get our voices out there. Because without it? Well, times would really be tough then.

I think Julie Powell herself would agree.

A Tribute to Conan O’Brien: I Grew Up with ‘Coco’

The now famous image around the internet in support of Conan O'Brien. Author: Mike Mitchell.

With tonight being the last one of the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, I figured it was only appropriate to write a tribute to a man I’ve been watching since the fifth grade. Interestingly enough, Conan’s mix of subtle, clever, and (self-aware) stupid humor entertained me when I was ten and entertains me now at twenty-three.

With the announcement in 2004 that Conan was replacing Leno on the Tonight Show in 2009, it was bittersweet news. It was great that he’d be on the air indefinitely at an earlier time slot with more of a budget and a bigger audience; but it also worried me that Conan might be forced to become vanilla, lame, and not funny. Why? Because with Jay Leno being the host for seventeen years, what else was I to expect?

“Indefinitely” turned into seven months for Conan, while his late night predecessors obviously had several years. This whole drama with NBC, O’Brien, and Leno is certainly not the most important thing going on in the world right now – and Conan makes a point of mentioning this every show while asking his audience to donate to help Haiti. But as far as television goes, it’s a major disappointment.

Conan may be a generational thing. After all, my generation happens to largely prefer O’Brien to Leno, or even Letterman sometimes. In a way we grew up with him. He was able to make us laugh all these years while we were going through puberty, sneakily staying up later than our bedtimes to watch him even though we had to get up for school at 6 in the morning, graduating high school, and throughout our formative college years when we officially became young adults.

Really, it’s no wonder this “Facebook and Twitter” generation has paraded the streets and the internet in defense of Conan O’Brien near the end of his show. So on behalf of all of us, I’d like to say thanks to “Coco” for all the laughs. We sure as hell hope they continue on another network in the near future.