Never Tweet Your Heroes... I Did and It Blew Up in My Face
Don’t meet your heroes, they say.
Who “they” are in this hypothetical is unclear, but now I understand the saying. Thanks to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and apps like Cameo, where you can pay a celebrity to record a personalized message, the lines between fan and celebrity are easily blurred.
My love of reality television is apparent to anyone who speaks to me for more than five seconds. I can quote any season of Real Housewives of New York like I am auditioning for Julliard. I can remember watching Rock of Love (and, later, Rock of Love Bus and Charm School) at far too young an age. People scoff when I tell them my evening TV line-up and often times I will watch the same episode of reality TV back-to-back, completely unfazed by the repetition. So, when podcasts surged in popularity, I was naturally excited that reality TV had seeped into a medium that allowed me to listen to episode recaps, join in with other fanatics, and (importantly for this story) connect with my favorite reality TV and podcast personalities.
I was entranced by one podcast in particular. Bitch Sesh is hosted by two writer-actresses, Danielle Schneider and Casey Wilson. You may know Danielle Schneider from Step Brothers and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and you would likely recognize Casey Wilson from Saturday Night Live and the short-lived-but-perfect TV show Happy Endings. The podcast started as two friends gushing over all things Bravo, but turned into a phenomenon that has generated controversial Facebook groups, live tours by the hosts, and celebrity guests. At one point, life imitated art as Erika Jayne, a cast member of the Beverly Hills franchise, joined the Bitch Sesh ladies.
Schneider and Wilson are also very active on social media. They tweet show dates; Instagram photos of their daily lives, red carpet premieres, and snapshots of their children; interact with fans by liking and sometimes responding to tweets; and generally opening themselves up to discussion with their fanbase. Perhaps it was this fan interaction, along with the general vibe of the podcast wherein you feel like you’re hanging with friends, I felt like having a personal connection with the hostesses was attainable.
It is not, and I have learned that the hard way.
My negative experience with Bitch Sesh, although frustrating and heartbreaking (for me, a drama queen), is nobody’s fault. It certainly isn’t my own, except for my naiveté that tweeting at a celebrity would mean they would read any attachment with excitement or energy.
A few weeks ago, I edited an old article I wrote before Christmas entitled, “The 10 Best Podcasts We’re Loving Right Now”.
The subject matter of the list was straightforward - 10 podcasts I’m attracted to and why. I included Cults, a podcast dedicated to the history of a variety of cults around the world; The High Low, a podcast hosted by Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton, two British journalists who have a fascinating outlook in regards to all things editorial; The Joe Rogan Experience, an acclaimed podcast that garners thousands of downloads a day; and, of course, I included Bitch Sesh, my beloved Housewives breakdown show. My blurb for Bitch Sesh was as follows:
Actresses (and women I hope will adopt me one day), Danielle Schneider and Casey Rose Wilson discuss all things Bravo TV. From The Housewives to Vanderpump Rules, they dive into the deep end of reality shows. With amazing guests like June Diane Raphael and Andy Cohen himself, the podcast is incredibly entertaining. Grab a glass of wine and listen, you’ll feel like you’re gossiping with your girlfriends.
Yes, I know this was unlikely to win me any journalism awards. But I felt compelled to write about a podcast that is so important to me. When I get ready in the mirror each morning, I fire up an episode and listen as I smack oils and serums to my bemused morning face. I listen to episodes on my commutes to and from work. Honestly, Bitch Sesh was one part of my day that I always eagerly awaited.
I would also like to reassure you, dear reader, that I normally don’t promote my writing. I’ve never been one to overshare on Facebook. Most recently, my Dad’s book was made into a movie and my Facebook friends witnessed shameless promotion that was propelled by my desire for people to see the movie and impact the box office. I have about 158 followers on Twitter, mainly old acquaintances from college and the occasional porn star robot. But, I decided to make an exception for this list because I thought that maybe my rave reviews of Bitch Sesh would garner me some affection in the eyes of my favorite hostesses.
So, one frightful day in April, I decided to do something out of the box. I was going to tweet my article to my aforementioned 158 followers, as well as tag some of the hosts in the tweet. I tagged Joe Rogan, Bobby Finger of Who? Weekly, and of course, Danielle and Casey. I wrote a (seemingly) witty caption and linked my article. I closed out the window and went on with my day.
To my horror, I had two notifications hours later. Casey had seen my tweet, responded to me, and ultimately blocked me. I started shaking. I quickly pinged my friend, a fellow reality TV sister, and explained what happened. She sent me screenshots of other people roasting me for my Tweet (including a stranger who critiqued my grammar and, much to my chagrin, was right). So, teary eyed and flabbergasted, I deleted the tweet.
Evidently, I had deeply offended Casey, even though my intent was to complement her and celebrate the show she co-created. If she had read the article, she would have clearly seen this. Instead, she looked only at the off-hand joke I made when I tweeted the article:
“Next article I write: Podcasts To Avoid Because The Host Has An Inflated Sense Of Self And Thought Her Vocal Fry Could Carry The Show. Working title… @daniellestuff @caseyrosewilson @sophiaamoruso @bobbyfinger.”
By linking my article with the comment, I meant for it to seem as though I was praising one thing and hypothetically teasing my next article. I never claimed that the hosts of the podcasts mentioned in the article had vocal fry or an inflated sense of self. I also tagged male podcast hosts, so I assumed I didn’t need to worry about this potential misinterpretation. Finally, even a cursory glance at the substance of my article would reveal that I was praising the podcast hosts at whom I tweeted.
But Casey blocked me and cast me out of her world, leaving me feeling miniscule as I sat behind my desk at work. I imagined chaos on her Twitter. I worried that I would be lambasted by my Bitch Sesh peers for attempting to praise the little community that I loved (which turned out to be only partially correct). I thought of other celebrities who have had to apologize for their social media antics and wondered if I would somehow be vindicated and reaccepted into the podcast community.
As I realized I had no control over the debacle, that I couldn’t explain myself to this stranger on Twitter, I felt misunderstood, crushed, and angry. Angry that a woman I regarded so highly would throw a fan away. I never expected her (or frankly, anyone) to open the attached article, but I did assume she’d read the tweet and understand the connection between the two, especially given that she is a comedian. I previously believed that Twitter is a pretty straightforward platform for avoiding controversy as a non-celebrity, but now I felt like I was at the wheel of a bus I could not control and that it was careening toward something I loved.
It was awkward listening to the next few episodes of the podcast, like I was watching an ex-lover as they made a new life with someone else. I was petrified that she would bring up the incident by mentioning the asshole she bravely stood up to on Twitter. It even felt weird watching the reality shows I loved. This feeling was the most frustrating – the idea that someone else, especially a stranger, could make me feel so uncomfortable around a piece of media I consumed daily. That shows I looked forward to watching after a long day of work now seemed dirty or somehow not for me anymore. This is when I realized that I allowed television shows and franchises to seep into every orifice of my being. And while I still love my programs and the podcast, I realized I can no longer let a piece of entertainment dictate how I feel in life. Watching Vanderpump Rules makes me happy, but being called “nasty” undeservedly does not. I always knew celebrities, actors, and actresses were unattainable, but the connectedness of platforms like Twitter made it seem like it was okay to reach out to them. But, like the vast majority of celebrity culture, this is just an illusion.
In retrospect, it seems hilariously hypocritical to me now, that a person who makes a career by viciously criticizing reality TV stars could be so sensitive to perceived criticism herself. But I learned a lesson myself, or at least reaffirmed one that I already knew: only assholes promote their own writing on Twitter to 158 followers.