Hot Mess Music

Liam Payne’s Messy Twitter Meltdown And The Issue of Celebrities, Social Media and Free Speech

I had a very busy weekend attending a friend’s birthday party and seeing Disclosure, so I’m still downloading a lot of the mess that occurred in pop culture.

And there was a lot of mess.

One bit that stuck out at me was Liam Payne’s tweet to Willie Robertson, one of the stars of Duck Dynasty, saying that he “respects” his “family values”. As one would expect considering the homophobic comments made by the patriarch a month or so ago, people were not happy about the tweet at all and responded in kind.

Now, I didn’t jump to the easiest conclusion about that tweet, that Liam Payne just randomly decided to proclaim his hidden homophobia. I figured that the “family values” bit didn’t mean the same to someone from the UK as it did to Americans. For those who don’t know, “family values” in America typically means “traditional”, one man-one woman households, a passive-aggressive but pointed slight against gay marriage.

What I did think, however, was that the tweet was a very poor decision that would hopefully be rectified with a clarification about what he meant and an apology if he offended anyone, particularly his fanbase, which I figure has a considerable gay constituency. He had just apologized for tweeting a photo of him standing on a roof ledge, so it shouldn’t have been too difficult, right?

Apparently, one apology in a week’s time was just too much.

Instead, Liam went on a Twitter rant, complaining about lazy journalists, how he’s just a 20-year old living his life and a bunch of other wasted keystrokes. He also tweeted about returning to Twitter when a freedom of speech law is back (mind you, it doesn’t exist anyway).

Clearly, some people should not be allowed to have Twitter.

The really stupid thing about all of this is that the whole drama could’ve been avoided if he either explained what his tweet meant, or understood why it would upset some people. Or he could’ve claimed he was hacked. Whatever was easiest.

The more important issue here is the fact that some celebrities really do not grasp the power they hold with their fans and the general public. It’s not necessarily their fault, but it’s a reality of their circumstance. People like Liam Payne make millions of dollars from people who enjoy the product they put out. It automatically makes you an influencer, a role model. You can proclaim to the cows come home that you aren’t but you are, and will be until people stop caring about you.

That means that, as much as it may suck, you have to exhibit some kind of thought before you tweet, or Facebook, or Instagram, or whatever other social media platform you use. If you are going to tweet support for a family that is brazenly homophobic, you are going to have to answer for it. I can appreciate the frustration that comes with having to think before you act, but I guess it is one of the vices that comes with being insanely famous, selling millions of records, and being adored by a crazed legion of fans, especially those that are highly impressionable. If you cannot hack the responsibility, either do not use social media, or stop being a pop star.

Even further, people need to get over this idea of “freedom of speech” being a cloak protecting you from criticism. While there can be no law that prohibits free speech, that doesn’t mean people cannot react to what you say and how you say it. If you are going to say something you probably know is going to offend someone, be prepared to deal with whatever backlash without getting all huffy about a Congressional concept. It makes you look silly.

I like Liam Payne: he seems to be a pretty good guy. However, his behavior this past weekend was just a hot mess and I would recommend he either get some media training, or just tweet about when the latest One Direction album is coming out.


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