I have been meaning to write a very long, complex and cerebral post about the seemingly exponential growth of Twitter in the last few months, but as my list of related bookmarks grows, the time to read them runs screaming, so I thought I’d try and capture a few thoughts in the next week or two in shortform (not 140 characters short, of course). Today’s topic: celebrity twittering (and, yes, just to get it out of your system, go and watch the Felicia Day Twittering Gaff … okay, moving on …). Now, if I were to write this properly, I’d have to start looking at Stephen Fry and his more than 250,000 followers … in 140 characters, the witty observer is king, but you can find plenty to read about Fry elsewhere. I could talk about disintermediation and who needs gossip magazines – or who really does need an agent filtering everything – when Ashton Kutcher is willing to tweet photos like this. But I just can’t bring myself to read anything else about the Moore clan. Instead, I want to talk about telepathic ex-policemen. Or, more specifically, Greg Grunberg, who plays Matt Parkman on Heroes.
Grunberg is now a Twitter regular, with some 27,000 followers, many of whom only know him for his Heroes role. He is, however, cleverly using Twitter to promote his other projects and establish his own celebrity presence as ‘Grunny’. However, what really caught my attention was Grunberg’s tweet about the end wrap-up of the current season of Heroes and how that tweet, out of context, fired off a rumour that the show had been cancelled. As Zap 2 It reported:
On Sunday morning, Grunberg tweeted the following: "Winding down shooting season 3 #Heroes. Tough to say goodbye to crew not knowing if any or all of us will return next year. Hope all." Over the next couple of days that one message set off a flood of "OMG!! Is Heroes cancelled!?!" musings on the web. … The posts all mention that Grunberg "later" or "eventually" clarified his first remark with another tweet, that reads, "Don’t get me wrong, #Heroes IS coming back next next year, but some crew take other jobs, so it’s tough… we have the Best. Crew. Ever." But they make it sound like he was responding to all the supposed controversy he created with his remarks. Here’s the thing: Grunberg’s second tweet came all of three minutes after the first one. That doesn’t sound so much like backtracking or butt-covering so much as a guy reading what he just wrote, deciding the thought wasn’t complete and then completing it. I know things move fast on the Internet, but three minutes on a Sunday morning isn’t enough time to create a controversy and then try to respond to it. The incident doesn’t seem to have soured Grunberg on Twitter, although he did comment on a "long day of rain on set and being misquoted" on Monday.
Now, as I was thinking about Grunberg’s tweets and the largely unfiltered access his followers get (albeit in tiny little parcels), I read this:
Sure, he didn’t reveal ending of the season, but this throwaway comment about an episode of Heroes which had just finished screening in the US did tell a lot of people how it ended. I’m guessing that some of his 27,000 followers didn’t watch the episode live … I wonder if anyone was annoyed by an actor giving away spoilers for a just-aired show? Certainly for me, in Australia, this episode won’t be aired for weeks so I was a little annoyed. (If the show was better scripted at the moment, I’d be even more annoyed.) Perhaps Grunberg and actors who follow suit need to start a few more tweets with #spoilerwarning hashtag. Either way, I suspect as more and more celebrities of various flavours tweet their fans directly, some new social norms will need to emerge about what is and isn’t revealed. And I wonder if this immediacy will drive more of Grunberg’s followers outside of the US to download Heroes rather than accept delays in being able to reply or (if they want to be unspoilt) read his twitter stream?