Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kanye's Bit Was Staged, Or Who Were They Kidding?

Let's look at the facts for a minute here.

Kanye West gets up on stage and interrupts an acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards by Taylor Swift.

The audience boos, the country is in an uproar (it's all Twitter can talk about for awhile). There are rumors of him "being drunk" (as if that makes it ok or understandable).

The next day, everyone apologizes to everyone, and we go on.

Except this. It was fake. And here's why.

Jay Leno, whom NBC is banking a heck of a lot on with his new 10 pm gig, just happens to have his first show right after the VMAs. Funny. His guest is Kanye West. Huge ratings.

Two days later, Taylor Swift is on The View, also talking about the VMA debacle. Also huge ratings.

Except this. BOTH guests were booked prior to the VMAs.

And, further, both guests are clients of agency William Morris Endeavor (WME) Entertainment. Coincidence? I think not.

Remember that Bruno/Eminem debacle, which later turned out to be staged? Both of them, also clients of WME.

Now here's the thing.

Do these people actually think this kind of media manipulation works? Obviously they do. They did it with Bruno/Eminem and came back for more for the VMAs.

They don't, apparently, realize that we are in a different age now. The age of transparency. Where a person is accountable for their actions. Further, where things can be checked with a few keystrokes.

The end result of all of this, to my eyes, is that everyone looks bad.

Eminem. Bruno. Kanye. Taylor Swift.

But most especially the charlatans at William Morris Endeavor, who use these old school tricks when we are in new times. Shame on you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Growing Twitter like a rosebush

My roommate, a dear, sweet woman, is far more social than me. But yet again today, we had another discussion about "I don't get this Twitter thing." I've been trying to get her to thrive on Twitter the way I do, but she doesn't even understand the basic concept of it. Given how social and gregarious she is in first life (far more than me), this kinda blows my mind.

So while we were talking about it, a concept I've been playing with came to the forefront.

I have two Twitter accounts, both packed full with 2000 people that I'm following. Initially I considered just filling up an account with 2000 and moving on to the next one, to whatever suited my needs. But this has proved to be impractical. To say nothing of the confusion, if someone is on one list and not the other; or mistakenly on both. So, trust me, multiple accounts really doesn't work, unless one is for business, one for pleasure, which is how I tried to structure them initially.

But what I found, in using them, is that I gravitated much more to the personal one (@michebella), only checking the business one (@michebel) on weekends or through my iPhone. The personal one, I use daily.

And also, and I was trying to explain all this to my roommate today, the personal one I care for like a rosebush. I am constantly pruning and caring for it. I am strictly vigilant about those that I'm following. When I first started (both accounts), I just ran helter skelter, adding as many folks as I could. I wanted to get up to that 2000 number, thinking that was the point, after all.

It isn't.

Sure you want to have lots of followers, and usually having 2000 will get you close to 2000 following you. On my personal account, I currently have 1400 following me, and can't seem to get it past that number. Oddly, on my business account, I quickly added the 2000 and got over 2000 following me. (I still don't understand that.)

It all started this morning with a discussion of Mafia Wars, and why I think it's rude to one's Twitter stream. My roommate's retort was: "Well, they are all just writing about what they had for breakfast anyway, what difference does it make?" (The usual thing from those who aren't really using Twitter the right way.) But it made me think of my business account, and how in a recent perusal, I had the same frustration that my roommate was having.

The reason I wanted to write this column is because I think this is really key. Part of really GETTING Twitter, I think, is making your Twitter stream work for you. Meaning getting value, as much as possible anyway, out of each and every person you're following.

People bounce others for many reasons. It could be that they are always talking about sports and you don't care about that. Or they fall on the opposite side of the political spectrum than you. The important, even KEY, thing here is that you don't sit there, frustrated, as my roommate does, and bemoan, oh this is stupid. You bounce them. And add someone who does provide value to you.

I'm not saying that every little nugget I put out there in the Twitter stream is golden. Or that anyone's is, for that matter. But it really is like buildng a friendship. You take the good with the bad, and hope that overall, it's a good experience.

I feel very strongly that everyone should have at least 100 people they are following, because if not, you get the same crap from the same people over and over. No one is that interesting.

But once you get up toward 250+, you get more of the concept of a stream, an organic flow of ideas and thoughts. It's easy to scroll past those that don't interest you. Less than that, you're just left thinking that it's all stupid.

Look at it this way. You have the whole world in front of you, like one huge dinner party. Who are you going to talk to? and why? whose advice are you going to seek out? who do you want hanging around just cause they have a cute turn of phrase? And if you're now saying, well, Michelle, I don't KNOW the whole world, I have no idea! This is what Follow Fridays are for.

Those who understand and stay on Twitter, regularly participate in Follow Fridays. Many have explained it better than me, but in short, you have people you value on your list. On Friday, they will tell you who they have on their list that they really like (for whatever reason). So add them.

Or at least check them out and then add them. This is how your list can grow every week, organically, with people you find interesting. Cause very likely those you find interesting will have interesting friends too.

But don't SETTLE for a crappy list and just moan about it. If people are swearing too much, or flashing too much nudity, or whatever you hot buttons are: unfollow them.

When I settle down to my Twitter stream, it is a pleasant blissful place. I get inspired, enlightened, calmed. I learn things I don't know. I hear about the latest news. I hear what others think about the latest news. Some friends drop songs off that they like.

Here's the thing. Just like any good party, you don't have to linger on someone talking about their foot surgery or their mom's constipation. You go on to the next one, or, if that's all they talk about, you unfollow them.

It's your Twitter stream. Make it grow, make it flower, make it work for you. That, I think, is what those masses leaving Twitter don't get. They expect it POOF! to be this amazing thing. You really have to work at making it amazing. But once you do, you won't want to go back to just watching crap scroll by, I promise you.

Now if I could only convince my dear roommate of this. Sigh. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 11, 2009

COCO BEFORE CHANEL (in French with subtitles)

Most people, if asked to describe the clothes of Chanel, would use adjectives like clean, classic, elegant. If asked to describe the person of Coco Chanel, if they even knew the answer, they might use adjectives like austere, gruff, reserved. Actress Audrey Tautou, who portrays her in this new movie, "Coco Before Chanel," spoke afterwards about her. She described the poignant final scene as the moment when Chanel shut down everything that came before and became the revered icon we all came to know. The one who changed fashion forever, arguably more than any other person.

So what was "Coco" (real name Gabrielle "Bonheur," aka "Happiness, quite ironic) really like? Before the House of Chanel? And why should we care about that?

What I really found fascinating about the film is how although it's definitely stuck in its time (the late 1890s and early 20th Century), Coco Chanel herself is quite clearly a woman ahead of her time. How does a visionary get from an impossible situation to creator of an empire? One stitch at a time, apparently.

She just kept doing what she did, and one thing led to another.

The film begins with Coco and her sister being deposited at an orphanage, their father not looking back. How they made their way as best they could: singing in cabarets, finding men to latch onto, whatever they could.

What really remains as a throughline of Chanel's character, though, is how determined she is to land on her feet. And how though there really wasn't a career for women doing what she did best, she created it.

All of that, perhaps, one would expect from a movie about Coco before Chanel. What is really unexpected, and beautiful to see, is the love story.

Belgian actor Benoit Poelvoorde is wonderful as the first strong man in her life. But the lingering love story between Tautou's character and American Alessandro Nivola is charming and engaging to watch. For me, that was the best chunk of this movie.

There have been many movies made about the Coco Chanel we knew. When have we ever seen her in love? And with a lover who realizes and appreciates who she is, and finally sets her in the right direction? It was really beautiful.

Having seen many of the previous Chanel movies, this movie finally left me with a realization of who this woman really was, and why she was the way she was. Well worth a watch.