As you can see if you look to the right, I tweet. I don’t like Facebook but I like Twitter. I like the way you have to focus an idea into 140 characters.
One of my fellow Tweeters is Rebecca Caine, a soprano whom I worked with in the early 80s when we did “The Gondoliers” at Sadler’s Wells. I didn’t get to know her very well – we only had one scene together I think – though we bumped into each other once while doing different operas in Nice in the 90s. I haven’t seen her since. I stumbled on her on Twitter, decided to follow her and it turns out she’s an excellent and witty tweeter. The other interesting thing about her is a parallel with my wife Lucy in that she has managed to work both in opera and in musicals. Indeed Rebecca was in the very first cast of “Les Miserables”, a show I’ve never seen, nor I confess have much desire to see. But the point is, she’s no slouch.
So what’s the relevance of all this? The other day Rebecca tweeted that she was going to unfollow Nick Jonas. They had performed together in the O2 concert of Les Mis (again, something I know very little about apart from what I get on the grapevine) but I gather that, nice young fellow though he might be, his tweets were all of the obnoxious and dull self-promoting type. You know, all about how much he loves his fans. All that bollocks.
What followed the un-following was bizarre in the extreme. Rebecca was submitted to a torrent of rage from Jonas fans, most of them teenagers apparently, who usually laced their abuse with the attitude that young Master Jonas was a gazillion times more famous than “that old bat”, therefore how DARE she insult his name by un-following him? Of course they didn’t use the word “therefore”. Are you kidding? Their tweets had the literary skills of a gibbon that’s just drunk five cans of Pepsi and they were laced with the usual plethora of OMGs and LOLs.
I’ll confess I take a delight in not knowing who most pop singers are. Why should I? I’m not interested in pop music. Give me a copy of “Hello!” magazine and I wouldn’t know who most of the people are inside its covers. That’s fine by me. I don’t feel any sense of loss or shortcoming whatsoever. It doesn’t strike me as very important.
What I have witnessed in the last few days has been an extraordinary sort of inverted snobbery where all that is cheap and crap, and which has no intrinsic value (beyond what it makes for publicists and all their ilk) is held in higher esteem than what is authentic and true. Of course, the inverted snobs don’t see it this way. They really do seem to believe that the fame-o-meter is a real indicator of ability and that if someone, their idol, is more of a celeb than someone they’ve never heard of, then their idol has the moral high ground. And if the idol has the high ground then, logically, so do all of his fans and they can hurl as much as idiotic abuse at non-fans as they like. Kind of like religious fanatics then.
I’ve experienced this before. A couple of years ago I got an email inviting me to watch “a bright new talent” on YouTube and leave a comment. She was a soprano that had been “discovered” by ex Take That member Gary Barlow, who as we all know is one of the world’s great experts on classical singing. She was called Camilla Kerslake and her singing was the usual, bog-standard ordinary, pop-classical product. She might get a job in a professional chorus if she can read music. It wasn’t her singing that bothered me though. It was the thing that she was singing. It was a pop song, by Barlow apparently, that by the device of translating the text into Italian and bunging in an orchestra and choir had been magically transformed into Classical Music. I was incensed and, as invited, left a comment saying precisely why I thought the whole thing was a cynical exercise in exploiting mediocrity.
Well, did I get it in the neck or what? Not from anyone who knew anything about the subject mind, but from irate fans. What right did I have…? I mentioned some professional credentials (I probably shouldn’t have) and was rewarded with “well how come I’ve never heard of you?” It didn’t go well after that and I gave up when someone reckoned that I was an idiot because if I knew anything I’d know that Beethoven was like a pop star in his time (er, no he wasn’t) so Gary’s music was up there with Ludvig van B.
I’m waiting for Barlow’s first string quartet but I won’t hold my breath.
And so today, I couldn’t resist joining Rebecca in her conflict with some gormless fan-bully called xox-Jennie. She had called Rebecca “that old bat” because Rebecca had make a light jest about Justin Blieber. I was greeted by xox-Jennie with “and you are?” meaning I assume “who are you to make fun of Justin?”
I kept my response brief. “No, after you. I insist.”