Celebs stop being polite, start getting real with fans on Twitter

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Attention, Twitter trolls: Celebrities aren’t taking any of your you-know-what.

While once upon a time stars were advised not to ruffle feathers by expressing political views (or other topics deemed controversial) for fear of hurting their brand, that time has passed. With Donald Trump’s controversial election win, which only a handful of Hollywooders were excited about (see: Scott Baio), and the unpopular decisions he’s made since he took office, we’ve entered what can only be described as the “take no crap” era. Celebs aren’t having it in any way, shape, or form.

While some famous folks have always clapped back at their trolls, we’ve seen even more come out swinging recently. And they’ve moved past the polite “unfollow me” response. Things have escalated to: Don’t like me or what I’m saying? Don’t be my fan. Don’t watch my show. Don’t go see my movie.

May we point you in the direction of Ellen Pompeo‘s feed. On Monday, the Grey’s Anatomy star didn’t pull any punches when she tweeted to her 1.3 million fans: “News flash… I don’t want Trump supporters for fans. Einstein.”

It started when the TV star, 47, shared a story about an 8-year-old biracial boy being the victim of an apparent lynching.

The hashtags that Pompeo, whose three children are mixed-race, used must have gotten folks riled up (again, she wasn’t pulling punches, using #gof*ckyourselvestrumpsupporters and #especiallythewomen). But she was in a “don’t come at me” kind of space.

Her blunt replies led to some followers questioning whether she was hacked. She wasn’t. As she explained, she’s just “straight savage when it comes to doing the right thing.”

Pompeo has become more politically outspoken than in her early days on her doctor drama. She was vocal about getting people to the polls prior to the election and obviously even more so after Hillary Clinton’s loss. Who can forget her headline-making tweet to Ivanka Trump about Jared Kushner? Not us. But, hey, it fits with the whole “straight savage” thing.

Olivia Wilde, who’s currently starring in 1984 on Broadway, has long been politically outspoken — and has protested several times this year, including outside Trump Tower in NYC in August after the president defended the actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK in Charlottesville, Va. It was around that time that the actress — whose mom, Leslie Cockburn, is running for congress in Virginia — addressed “Trumpy Trolls” who had apparently been hassling her and threatening to boycott her work.

Not only did she tell them to go ahead and boycott her movies, but Wilde, who has 1.85 million Twitter followers, did so along with the middle finger emoji. Nothing ambiguous there.

And then there’s Cher. Let’s be honest, the badass songstress has never been one to be shy about her thoughts on any topic, but a recent tweet got a lot of pickup. After taking to Twitter to defend the so-called DREAMers and urge “those who can” among her 3.4 million followers to “take a DREAMER in 2 their home and protect them,” as she plans to do, one Twitter user wrote, “Sure you will Cher. I’ll believe it when I see it.” The “Turn Back Time” singer shot back, “Then keep your eyes open, b**ch.”

For the record, her reply has nearly 100,000 likes.

Don Cheadle is another star who frequently takes on critics in the social media space. The actor — and political newshound — has called fans out for being “woefully uninformed.”

Cheadle, who has 546,00 followers, isn’t afraid to get down and dirty during an exchange. (He told one follower to, um, eat a d**k.) And this tweet gives some insight into why he’s OK with potentially losing fans — namely, because his political beliefs matter more to him than fandom.

Of course, not all stars are using social media as a platform. You may remember Mark Wahlberg in 2016 saying that “a lot of celebrities did, do, and shouldn’t” discuss their personal politics. He went so far as to say many celebrities are “pretty out of touch with the common person.” (He has his own golf course in his backyard, so he should know.)

We asked Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, what he thinks about this trend of celebs clapping back, and he noted that there’s been a “clear societal shift in expectations about the behaviors of public figures.”

“First, when it comes to social media, people assume they are sending posts [and tweets] into the void,” he tells Yahoo. “So if a celebrity ignores the tweet or post, then it is easy to assume the celebrity just didn’t see it. For those people who feel strongly about an issue, more direct engagement is a way of making sure that people recognize that they were heard.”

As for celebs and their take-no-crap attitudes: “There is a clear societal shift in expectations about the behaviors of public figures,” Markman says. “When Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks made her comment about George W. Bush in 2003, it was shocking, because that was a period in which celebrities were often quiet about their personal political beliefs. There have been periods in which celebrities have been quite vocal. The 1960s had a lot of celebrity activism around race and equality. The late 1980s had activism about AIDS and gay rights. We have entered another era in which many celebrities [on the right and left] are taking to social media to support causes.”

However, there could be financial repercussions. “These interactions may turn off some of a celebrity’s fans,” Markman adds. “We are becoming increasingly polarized as a society, and that has begun to influence the entertainment people watch in addition to the political parties they support.”

But that’s a risk these stars apparently feel is worth taking. And cheers to them for staying true to their personal convictions.

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