The inexorable rise of social media has changed the way we interact with our idols in the rap game forever, but what happens when it goes too far?
Stalking is not a new thing. Celebrities aren’t a new thing; even the much derided ‘celebrity culture’ isn’t a new thing. Back in the day, instead of people commenting on Jesus’ (not Yeezus) Instagram, they followed him around his whole life then wrote a book about him. If that’s not the original testament to the power of celebrity culture, I don’t know what the fuck is. Even the quintessential ‘nothing’ celebrity and human blimp Katie Price wrote numerous autobiographies and she doesn’t even have opposable thumbs. It’s in our nature to idolise and to communicate, but with technology making our lives easier and more accessible; the darker side of our natural instincts now have the time and the medium to express themselves in more extreme ways.
With the permeation of social media, interaction with our modern day prophets has never been more common. The ivory towers our idols reside in have not just been breached; they’ve been breached, photographed and set up with a magical mind reading device that collects tiny chunks of consciousness, regurgitating them to the masses via invisible laser beams in the ground.
In some respects it’s a great thing. Traditionally fans have always been kept at (a steroid-riddled bodyguard’s) arms-length, so this breakdown of the fourth wall has given a unique insight into the lives of those we admire. More often than not it reveals a more three-dimensional character than the one PR companies feed to the media. The only problem, as is usually the case with any good thing used en masse, is the fucking weirdos.
The traditional image of the celebrity stalker has become so accepted that it is beyond cliché. When we hear stories of maniacal fans routing through rubbish bins or hiding in the bushes outside a mansion we collectively shrug our shoulders as if to say, “I wish someone would want to smell my pants whilst I’m at work.” What we don’t really consider is how fucking scary that is. Before the Internet, stalking was hard. That shit took research, and in some cases a reasonable level of fitness. Have you ever tried climbing over a 15-foot wall just so you can ecstatically cover yourself in MC Hammer’s Nutella?
That shit is crazy, because it’s disciplined crazy. Those types of stalkers probably had a gym membership, enjoyed rock climbing and loved map reading in their spare time. When people are that dedicated you’re almost inclined to feel not just sorry for them, but also on some level want them to succeed. I’d be inclined to say, “Listen MC Hammer, crazy Vanessa only wanted to express her undying love for you via the medium of Nutella, just let her get on with it and stop being such a killjoy.”
But these days technology has made stalking too easy. Crazy Vanessa is now @CRAZYV894 and she’s given up on Hammertime. She is now following Drake, Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky on every public media platform that exists. Crazy Vanessa has got lazy. She no longer needs to break into the mansion and sift through the rubbish because her idols have already selfied from their bed, tweeted about how much Nutella they had for breakfast and updated their facebook status to a satisfied smiley face.
With the proliferation of celebrity information in social media, your typical obsessive compulsive stalker can gorge themselves on more pathetically insignificant details than ever before. They don’t even need to hide in a dark room in front of a whirring PC anymore, with smart phones they can become mobile stalking machines, capable of stalking multiple rappers and paying for their hazelnut latte at the same time.
This level of freedom in relatively anonymous communication has totally flipped the way we talk with celebrities. While before they would receive a deluge of fan mail through traditional means, now the fan mail is plastered right on screen for the whole world to see.
Words by Thomas Usher