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Controversy or Fame? The Impact of Social Media on Consumer Reception
"...All it takes is a single slip-up, in the form of a paparazzi picture, or the slip of a tongue, to topple a career". Read on to find out more about what Daniel has to say on social media's influence in 2023.
26 January, 2023

Through scandals and success stories, social media has contributed to the rise and fall of thousands of celebrities and influencers in the last decade. Online platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok have redefined business and consumer relations, becoming the most significant part of not only celebrity identity, but as a source of income for a vast majority of independently owned businesses that rely on social media marketing and promotion for their success, making these platforms essential to their living. 

Social media has given millions of people a platform to showcase their talent, be it singing, dancing, or countless artistic endeavours, proving to be the significant factor that impacts the rise to fame of many up-and-coming celebrities and artists. All it takes is a single TikTok video to go viral, which has the potential to change somebody’s life. A prime example of social media’s influence on celebrity success is Doja Cat. With the release of her first debut single ‘So High’ in 2014, her sales were limited and any accolades were absent. Doja then found skyrocketing success in 2018 after her song ‘Moo!’, made with the intention of being a parody, served to be her rise to fame after going viral on YouTube. Following suit, her hit single ‘Say So’ with the release of her record-breaking album in 2019, ‘Hot Pink,’ became one of TikTok’s most played and used soundtracks of all time, garnering her millions of followers and fans, paving the way for her eventual grammy-winning success. Although the Grammy’s were an ode to Doja’s success, the award show is certainly not drama free. This was especially after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage for making a joke about his ex-wife, Jada Smith’s Alopecia, resulting in his 10-year ban from the academy awards. Hundreds of memes were made soon after, and Will Smith continues to be characterised for his immature behaviour at one of the most live-streamed award shows in the world! The situation was blown out of proportion and overly exaggerated on Twitter, eternally tying Will Smith to a supposed ‘lapse’ in judgement. 

Publicity Paradox

Despite being extensively promoted, Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling,’ is tainted with the title of being one of the most controversial films of 2022, where the impact of social media, specifically TikTok and Twitter, was rather prominent before the movie was even released. Whether it was circulating videos of Harry Styles supposedly spitting on Chris Pine at one of the movie premiers, Florence Pugh’s decision to skip the press conference, or the conflicting rumours of Shia LaBoeuf having left or having been ‘fired’, the cast and director were faced with never-ending controversies and problems that impacted the success of the movie. Yes, it did make nearly 50 million more than its budget, but what sparked an even brighter flame was Wilde’s rumoured relationship with Harry Styles being the sole reason for his role in the film.  With such a golden cast, there was a propitious expectation for the movie to acquire blockbuster status, with its box-office results going through the roof, but coupled with poor acting and constant drama, the film was left with a solid 38% rating on Rotten tomatoes. Thousands of fans went on to critique Harry Styles’ acting, especially after a scene leak that went viral, and even admitted to breaking into fits of laughter every time he began to yell or get angry in the film!

Cancel Culture 

Success stories brought about by social media are usually viewed through rose-tinted glass, with the failure to recognise the negativity and toxicity that comes hand-in-hand with an online presence, especially with regard to cancel culture. Kit Connor who remained unlabelled was forced to come out on Twitter due to accusations of queer-baiting proves to be a suitable example, where he was forced to label himself as bisexual to block the sea of back-lash he was facing after playing Nick Nelson, a bisexual character, in Netflix’s show ‘Heartstopper’. There have been several instances of this where social-media users have demanded statements and apologies based solely on assumptions, an extremely harmful mindset that justifies online bullying. However, in terms of JK Rowling, she faced immense backlash and online criticism for being transphobic after openly questioning why menstruation wasn’t solely associated with being a woman, claiming on Twitter “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.” She further set fuel to the fire by releasing a message titled ‘TERF wars’ in an attempt to defend herself, resulting in a widespread boycott of her authorship over the Harry Potter franchise. In this context, cancel culture attempted to de-platform a bigot, and simultaneously disassociate a multi-million dollar book and movie franchise from her. 

The extent of social media’s influence is like a double-sided coin, with a 50-50 chance of success or failure. With scandals and controversies, all it takes is a single slip-up, in the form of a paparazzi picture, or the slip of a tongue, to topple a career.

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