Hollywood’s Zero Defect Mentality in the Age of Social Media

In the age of social media, celebrities can more directly get their views, messages, and brand out, but consequently like the rest of us leave a footprint subject to greater scrutiny over time. The recent controversy surrounding Kevin Hart’s homophobic tweets from 2011, which led to an emcee-less 2019 Oscars, is a recent outcome of this. In the last month, celebrities blasted for their words included actor Rob Lowe for tweeting a joke about Elizabeth Warren’s native American heritage and Trevor Noah for comparing conflict between India and Pakistan to a Bollywood film.

In fact, through late 2018, mic.com had a weekly segment called “Who’s Sorry This Week,” highlighting the litany of celebrity apologies making news. Whilst some postings such as Roseanne Barr’s derogatory tweet in 2018 about Valerie Jarrett, which led to the cancelation of the reboot of her TV series "Roseanne," are clearly over the line, other celebrities have been scrutinized on musing from years past.

But are there cases where the outrage goes too far? Should we suddenly become outraged in 2018 for career comedian/actress Sarah Silverman making a joke about pedophilia in 2009? Comedian Trevor Noah’s jokes about a Jewish kid from 2009 or Australian aboriginal women from 2013? In the case of Kevin Hart, who is the arbiter of what level of apology should suffice to quell the outrage?

Others in Hollywood have taken a risk avoidance approach by deleting all their past tweets, and some like Scarlett Johansson and George Clooney stay off of it entirely. Whilst some celebrities like Kim Kardashian owe most of their success to social media, it seems for most there is little upside and high risk in freewheeling on Twitter.

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