What We've Gained from Twitter: Knowing your Favorite Musician Can't Spell
Miley Cyrus is quitting Twitter, reportedly. She's not unfollowing herself over music -- her tweets were reportedly an affront to Liam Hemsworth, which is reportedly the name of a real person -- and the RFT Music demographic, so far as our ad guys can tell, is probably not very broken up about it. But musicians and Twitter have a weird relationship, and not always a good one.
Now she has to be Hannah and Miley at the same time, forever.
Musicians, at least theoretically, once allowed us access to their inner lives only in a very constrained way. We had rumors, and magazine articles, if they were famous enough, but mostly lyrics--lyrics I, as a good post-Nirvana earnest-rock-fan, would go full New Criticism on, hunting for ironies and theme and tone across albums until I was sure my favorite singers were poets, touched souls with access to a complex, universal empathy.
I've never seen a bird's penis.— Rivers Cuomo (@RiversCuomo) July 27, 2011
Rivers Cuomo's Twitter is actually a bad example--it's no sillier than Raditude, and it mostly just reveals that he's an intelligent, fortysomething musician concerned, in a 1:1:1 ratio, with having fun with his daughter, thinking about death, and writing pop songs.
It's just different now. Weezer fans, back in 2001, spent five years waiting for another few hundred words' worth of insight into his mental state, only to get the stupendously impersonal Green Album. Now they can just follow him on Twitter and learn that he's in Chicago and looking for a soccer game to join.
Which isn't to say that's a bad thing. The romantic image we have of artists can obscure that they're fundamentally humans writing about humans; if Bob Marley had Twitter we might not be stuck with two generations of dreadlocked white college students using posters with his face on them as vague monuments to smoking weed and hating your parents for having jobs.