If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: be careful what you say on social media. Particularly if you're a contestant on a wildly popular Fox singing contest and presumably legally held to a network gag order.
On Tuesday night, 25-year-old American Idol hopeful Jermaine Jones posted the following tweet to his official Idol Twitter account: "Awww I will no longer b on the show." The post and Jones' Twitter account were later deleted, but not before thousands of fans had heard the news before Fox was ready to announce it: Jones had been disqualified from the competition.
Poor Jones. Not only had his Idol dreams been dashed, he'd apparently forgotten the old entertainment industry adage: loose talent lips sink production company ships. But then again, he's hardly the first to use Twitter to circumvent the typical PR-friendly announcement process.
More and more movie stars, musicians, athletes, and other assorted famous folk have embraced social media lately, and the results can be funny, relatable, bizarre, and sometimes downright catastrophic. When a celebrity abandons the usual rigamarole of having a publicity team manage their statements, they always run the risk of unintended consequences—but when you add the ease of using Twitter to instantaneously broadcast your every thought to the world, that's when things can get really hairy.
Examples include Oprah Winfrey's recent biff when she requested Nielsen viewers to inflate her ratings by tuning into OWN, NASCAR racer Kasey Kahn tweeting his shock at seeing a breastfeeding mother in public (quelle horreur!), Ashton Kutcher's jaw-dropping obliviousness to the Penn State scandal, and, of course, pretty much everything Chris Brown has ever said on Twitter in the history of ever.
As long as there are public figures, there will be public relations people, but these days their jobs seem to focusing more and more on damage control. Instead of spoon-feeding a celebrity the right words to say in the first place, they're having to come up with apologies after the fact. Is it better that we're seeing the real side of celebrities? That's probably debatable, but it sure makes things more interesting.
As for Jermaine Jones, he got booted from the show because he has four active arrest warrants. Idol addressed his disqualification on last night's show, but I'm certain they had to do some scrambling beforehand to deal with the fact that the news was, for the most part, already part of the public domain.
Who would have thought that the same social media sites where we share photos of our babies and tweet the ingredients of our lunches would play such a big part in peeling back the glossy Hollywood exterior to reveal the churning machinations underneath? I think it's fascinating how the entertainment industry is changing as a result, and how the biggest power players of all—the producers, the networks, the agents—can't hold a candle to that one simple little button that says "tweet."
Do you think it's a good or bad thing that we're hearing more celebrity news directly from the sources rather than via prepared statements?
Image via AmericanIdol.com