For those who haven’t been keeping up with Courtney Love’s recent Twitter problems, here’s a short rundown. In February 2009, Love met with fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir to discuss some new items for her clothing label Boudoir Queen. About a month later, the designer started complaining that Love owed her money, somewhere in the range of a few thousand dollars. Instead of paying back the cash, Love did what she does best – ranted about it on Twitter.
She made claims that Simorangkir was a “drug-pushing prostitute”, as well as accusing her of losing custody of her child and having a history of assault. She also posted on her MySpace and in the comments sections of online boutiques that sold the designer’s items. In response to this, Simorangkir decided to sue the pants off of her for defamation and libel. Earlier this month, the case was settled out of court, with Love owing the designer $430,000 plus interest.
So why is this a big deal? Well, if it went to court, it would have been the first legal case to hold Twitter and other social media to the same libel standard as traditional news. But what does this all mean, really? Does it matter that much? Are we on the cusp of an Orwellian forum, where anything we say or do we can be immediately sued for? Are corporations and legal people going to start invading other Twitter accounts, trouncing our ability for free speech in cyberspace? In my opinion: not really, though it certainly shows that times are a-changin’.
Since it’s inception, Twitter has become a mouthpiece for celebrities and general media types. Celebrities of all sorts can now talk with their fans, not just at special meet-and-greets and Q and As, but anytime, anywhere. At the same time, a celebrity’s popularity now has an easily-definable ranking system – just check how many Twitter followers they have, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how popular a given person is (case in point – the most popular Twitter account right now is Lady Gaga’s, just edging out Justin Bieber, Brittany Spears and Barack Obama).
Obviously, knowing how volatile celebrities can be, especially ones who’s time in the spotlight have passed, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Courtney Love’s rambling Twitter presence has finally landed her in some real trouble. It’s really not such a big deal. There’s no difference between Love making these statements in some sort of press release, using a publicist, and having the words coming out of her own mouth.
All she’s doing is skipping the middle-man – one could make the argument that she wouldn’t be in this mess if someone had stopped her from saying these things publicly, but considering Love is more well-known these days for her shenanigans than for any of her artistic achievements, no one in any sort of media position would stop her from getting a little bit of press.
All that this means, really, is the same thing that is fairly obvious for any artist who’s in the public eye: when everyone’s listening, watch what you say. It’s really not that hard to NOT get sued; don’t make your beefs public unless you’ve got a lawyer behind you, and certainly don’t air your grievances in several (presumably) drunken rants over a forum so public as Twitter.
As a post-script, it seems Courtney Love has returned to Twitter with a new username, using her first tweet to call comedian Chelsea Handler a “leathery idiot and rude. And beyond stupid.”
Do these people never learn?