I collaborated with Amy Miller on an important look at Twitter reactions to celebrity death. Summary: everyone is a hack, the search box is your friend, and Amy will be a mess in the unlikely event of Dolly Parton’s death.
Amy is very funny, so go see her in person this weekend at the Sacramento Punch Line, or any other weekend in Portland.
Lou Reed’s dead and that’s very sad and I heard about it on the internet. Lately when celebrities die, I sometimes also get the initial news when my friend Sean Keane sends me a text saying:
"Don’t go on the internet. The world’s worst open mic just started again."
The combination over the past three years of being more active on Twitter and being connected to hundreds (feels like millions) of other comedians has caused me to avoid going near the internet for 24 hours soon after the death of a celebrity I respect.
As a dedicated/ obsessed Dolly Parton fan, I have had actual sweaty anxiety nightmares about how many comedians I’m going to have to murder in cold blood if she dies. IF SHE DIES. IF. Take an otherwise wonderful human being who has done nothing but put magic and music into the world and add some breasts and a bunch of bored comics, and we’re looking at a shitstorm of disrespectful and, more importantly, tragically unoriginal jokes about the death of an actual person. An actual person being mourned by millions of dedicated fans, namely me.
I’m not making a “Don’t joke about tragedy” argument. I’m making a “Why joke about tragedy while also being hacky” argument.
The mean half-life of a Tweet is 2.8 hours. Emphasis on mean, in this case. Let’s say you somehow manage to have an original thought about a celebrity death (By the way, Twitter Search makes originality very easy to confirm if you’re unsure.) - 50 percent of people who will EVER read that Tweet will do so within 2.8 hours. That’s your window of shitty death Tweet fame. You have 2.8 hours for your fans to enjoy your hacky fucking comment about a great person’s life while people legitimately mourn. Because they are DEAD. And you are just being “edgy” while taking a dump - figuratively and literally.
But it’s not just the hacky mean Tweeters that get to me. If Dolly dies (IF), why should I take it upon myself to point out how much more I loved her than everyone else? If way more people show up to your friend’s funeral than you expected, do you ask them to leave? She deserves every ounce of praise the internet could muster and more.
I’m just so tired of the true fandom police, the snarky “Twitter sucks” police, the timely knowledge police, and people who think it’s not comedy to express a real feeling or offer a genuine tribute.
After several rounds of examination following celebrity deaths, Sean and I have narrowed the worst offenders down to the following types.
If you want to be the absolute worst, you should do any of these things the next time someone famous dies.
IT’S OK TO HAVE EMOTIONS. WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU.
I’ll Be Your Shitty Shitty Mirror: 20 Ways to Be The Worst Person When a Celebrity Dies.
- by Amy and Sean
1. QUICK! Try to announce it first whether you care or not!
RIP Lou Reed :(
2. Pretend another celebrity with a similar name died.
Lou Reed died? That sucks. I loved Mambo No. 5!
3. Be a straight up insensitive dick with dead celeb name in the hashtag only
Big surprise that decades of drugs and drinking can kill you. #LouReed
4. Make a Shitty Overused Pun
More like Velvet Six Feet Underground
5. Make a well-intentioned but overused pun
What an imperfect day #RIPLouReed
6. Start a Parody account
@LouReedsGhost: I’m walking on the wild side!
7. Be the hoax watch dog
You guys should be careful about announcing someone’s death before it’s confirmed #VivaLouReed
8. Be a pretend double hoax!
Lou Reed’s death is a hoax!
9. Meta Tweet about how you joined the conversation after everyone else already knowing and now feel self-conscious about expressing real feelings
Did you guys hear Lou Reed died? Of course you did, it happened 5 minutes ago. #RIPLouReed :(
10. Pull the ol’ double celebrity news joke
I can’t believe Chris Brown killed Lou Reed
11. Pull the double celeb news joke + imply that the life of this other famous person who is still alive is worth so much less than the guy who died even though you know neither one of them personally.
Lou Reed’s dead and Miley Cyrus is still alive? #GodIsntReal
12. Let people know you’re a true fan with a heavy dose of sarcasm
That’s so cool how much you all like Lou Reed today.
13. Be a true fan but remind everyone of that shitty thing he created once
Lou will be missed. Lulu will not. #RIPLouReed #MetallicaSucks
14. Imply Old age/ Cultural irrelevancy
Wait, Lou Reed was still alive?
15. Post a pointless real-life encounter anecdote
I once saw Lou Reed buying mangos in a bodega. He picked up every single mango before choosing one. #RIPLou #Mangos
16. Acknowledge the singular and quickly-shifting nature of Twitter trends and how you are so much above it even though you are ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING.
I guess now that baseball is on, we can all stop talking about Lou Reed.
17. Struggle to make the most obscure super-fan reference
“I’ve been thinking of leaving for 35 years now. Im almost ready.” #LouReed #BlueintheFace #RIP
18. Speak ill of the dead + be super condescending
I always thought Lou Reed was pretty arrogant and obnoxious, but I’m glad so many people like Sweet Jane
19. Make Obituary-based puns
More like LIVER fatale! #LouReed
20. Be Morrissey
(Actually that one was awesome)