Vanity Fair Unfair to Twitter?


The new issue of Vanity Fair includes an article that has inspired a flurry of irritated tweets among some on twitter.

According to “America’s Tweethearts” by Vanessa Grigoriadis, being known by thousands of people on twitter is “Not real fame, mind you, or even Internet-celebrity fame, but a special, new category of fame: twilebrity.” Not real fame? Fame is fame! If only a fraction of Amy Jo Martin’s 1.3 million followers know who she is, she’s still famous in a pretty large circle.

All afternoon, people kept bringing this article to the attention of Action Flick Chick Katrina Hill who, as @actionchick on twitter, had a following larger than or similar to half the women featured in the article. The first to point this out was her Bird vs. Nerd collaborator Andre Meadows.

BlackNerd: @actionchick Um, someone’s missing from this article. Who could it be?

Yes, Katrina had a following comparable that of half the featured women and Katrina even credits twitter for her new status as G4TV’s Next Woman of the Web, but that’s really not the problem. We could surely find other examples of photogenic young women with twitter-created celebrity status who have larger followings than hers. Vanity Fair‘s examples are just that – examples. They weren’t presented as the top six. They are all outstanding women.

No, the problem isn’t who the author used as examples. The problem is what she said about them and everybody else on twitter. We’ve seen some strong responses pointing out the article’s many flaws. Presented as if it’s praising the six featured women, the article nevertheless calls them ‘”the Internet’s equivalent of a telephone chat line staffed by a bunch of cheerleaders,” and continues to heap indignity after indignity upon them all.

Site: Geek Girl Diva
Post: “Tweethearts? On Vanity Fair! You Slay Me!”
by Geek Girl Diva (@geekgirldiva): “I think it’s great that you took the time to write about some of the top female Twitterers (Tweethearts? Srsly?) and looked to offer some insight into how their celebrity (twilebrity? WTF?) has come about. Except you didn’t do that. You gave me eye candy, cutesy words that include ‘tw’ (twagic, if you ask me) and manage to more than amply deride these women’s efforts even while writing about them…”

Site: Geek Week Online
Post: “Why Does Vanity Fair Hate the Women of Twitter?”
by Kiala Kazebee (@kiala): “The article, America’s Tweethearts (ugh), profiles six high profile entrepreneurial women (Felicia Day, Julia Roy, Sarah Evans, Stefanie Michaels, Sarah Austin, and Amy Jo Martin) on Twitter and rather than aiming the spotlight at their achievements, it instead paints them as attention seeking, pom pom wielding, phone sex operators for the internet…”

Post: “Hot for Twitter! Vanity Fair’s ‘Twilebrities’ Have Sexy Legs”
by Rachel Sklar (@rachelsklar) : “…I got no problem with cheerleaders — or cheerleading, in the sense of being upbeat, encouraging, sharing, open and engaged, which is what all these women are — but wow do I have a problem with using it to buttress the impression of flighty, dippy girls obsessed with themselves, their highlights and their twitter followers. No. There are people like that, but not these people specifically, and not people who are engaged and involved on Twitter in general…”

Finally, even one of the six featured women weighed in as well: Internet heroine Felicia Day, creator and star of The Guild. You know, the woman once rumored to be the Action Flick Chick back before Katrina put her real name and face on the Internet.

Post: “Disappointment”
by Felicia Day: “I can’t tell you how many hours I had to resist rage Tweeting about this subject. The use of inane Twitter lingo like ‘Twilebrity’, ‘Tweeple’ and ‘Twitformation Superhighway’ (Oh God please stop) just signaled that the writer obviously wasn’t well-researched about the service, or the internet in general, really. And her condescending jibes like, ‘…somehow this fascinates millions of readers.’ Well, whatever.  We’re all used to snarkville. But what really ENRAGED me what the general tone, which artfully made intelligent, articulate women sound vapid and superficial.”

Do not buy Vanity Fair just to read this tripe by Vanessa Grigoriadis. Read the article online for free.

So who is Vanity Fair‘s twitter expert? As of this writing, Grigoriadis a.k.a. @nessiecorp on twitter follows the tweets of only 40 people, has 164 followers, and appears on a grand total of 7 twitter lists. Because she does indeed have protected tweets that you can’t see, we can’t know how prolific she has or has not been in tweeting to her audience of 164, but we can tell you who they are. To see which 164 people she deigned to permit the reading of her tweets, check them out at

And whose tweets does she follow herself? She follows journalist @jodikantor, journalist @NikkiFinke, journalist @toadmeister, journalist @FManjoo, journalist @JodyRosen, journalist @Pomeranian99, editor @GabrielSnyder, writer @DerekBlasberg, writer @albomike, several people at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, several at Gawker, some people we can’t figure out because their tweets are protected too or they have no profile information, and show biz types like @AdamLambert LL Cool J’s daughter@RainnWilson, and @Stephen Colbert. #twittertip: Nobody in the public eye or anybody else who can benefit from promotional activities should set their tweets to private.

This is not someone with a finger on the pulsebeat of twitter. Apparently it’s someone who doesn’t even know that the act of sending a specific tweet is tweeting, not “Twittering.”

Don’t be a twit.

Image based on photograph by Vanity Fair © 2010, used as a transformative work for parody and illustrative purposes under fair use.

Addendum: More Great Responses

Site: CNET
Post: “Vanity Fair on Twitter Fame: Twembarrassing”
by Caroline McCarthy (@caro): “…one of the silliest, most superficial, and most wildly out of touch articles about Twitter that I’ve ever read. Called ‘America’s Tweethearts,’ it discusses the phenomenon of individuals (primarily attractive women) who have amassed notable amounts of Twitter fame, or ‘twilebrity.’ (Twilebrity? Barf.)”

And another featured Tweetheart weighs in.

Site: Digital Royalty
Post: “There’s More to a Tweetheart”
by Amy Jo Martin: “Here’s what has kept me up the past few nights. Here’s where I call twullshit. Unlike assumptions made in the article, the fact is that all six women featured are more than just twitter handles. They are pioneers. Individuals and companies are making money off of Twitter. Maybe I wasn’t clear during the two-hour, one-on-one interview when I explained that I’ve built a business around this exact topic.”

Related posts:


9 thoughts on “Vanity Fair Unfair to Twitter?

  1. Pingback: Rocket Llama HQ - » Vanity Fair Unfair to Twitter?

  2. adam

    The Sarcasm in the Vanity Fair article was profoundly thick! I think the whole aim of the article was to subtly degrade every one of the very talented woman that they cite.

  3. Zeblue

    When I heard about this article on twitter, late Wednesday afternoon, I was afraid to chime in or even RT. I wanted to read it first. Thankfully, @ArkhamAsylum linked the original article to me. So, while driving down some twisted, country, back roads on my way to my buddy’s house, I read the article and had a limited twitter discussion about it with @GeekGirlDiva (who’s article I also read) and Arkham.

    I felt that the matter was too touchy to not expound upon and qualify each short statement that I would make in a twitter conversation explaining my opinion, but I ended up voicing said opinion on twitter, this morning, with the encouragement of the very personalities who’s disappointment I feared. So, before I throw in my two cents, a big thank you goes out to @GeekGirlDiva and @Kiala who both wrote posts on Vanity Fair’s article and who both kindly read my tweets as a fellow twitter user rather than some guy unconscious of his own saturated sexism who just doesn’t get it.

    Vanity Fair’s article on “tweethearts” should not have been printed. As @Kiala mentioned, there are just too many editors to let something like this pass. Shame on them for thinking they could capitalize on their ignorance. What do I mean?

    RULE #1: Do NOT write about anything you don’t know about. If you don’t know anything about a subject you wish to write about, research it. Vanity Fair crashed, burned, and killed several kittens with their attempt at research, as per the article this comment is hosted on.

    RULE #2: Do NOT attempt to ostracize a group of people in the know of something you are not. So what if you don’t know anything about twitter, Vanity Fair? Do you honestly think that attempting to appeal with your non-twitter using readers by dividing all your readers into factions would help to sell your product? Even without census data, logical reasoning will clue you in that if you are having to publish articles online, you are going to have internet users reading your articles. What do the vast majority of people use the internet for, nowadays? Social media. What’s one extremely popular form of social media that influences millions of people through internet, radio and television? Twitter. (If you don’t believe me about the TV and radio thing, just watch Fox News, CNN or ABC, sometime). So, write something bad about twitter and it will likely be spread across the world in minutes.

    Now, it is true that campaign marketing through negative, but global comments is a way to get brand recognition and possibly more sales, but it’s not likely. In a time when customers are pickier than ever (b/c of $), they will not grab an issue because “I heard something about this on the news.” Customers will avoid products because “I heard something about this on the news.”

    Where Vanity Fair really screwed the pooch, though, is that they didn’t just attempt to ostracize twitter users from their readers, they tried to ostracize entrepreneurs and women.

    To be fair, I can see how a person who dislikes twitter could unconsciously make twitter users seem ditzy or stupid, but publications have a way to catch that. It’s called an editor. So, whether intentional or not, Vanity Fair has made it’s official position through a printed article that cannot be revoked or modified that it has less respect for twitter users than the average reader, that persons famous on twitter are not ACTUALLY famous, and that persons deriving any sort of entrepreneurial success through twitter did not work for it.

    Some people may be thinking, “but they didn’t come out and say all that. They just made a few bad analogies.” That’s what I thought, initially. The thing is, this is a publication made in hard-print. It’s unchangeable typography printed upon something people hold with their hands and can frame and can hand to others and that is forever because someone else somewhere has a copy in their hands. Until very recently, all publications knew this, so they hired writers, people who have degrees in journalism, to write and research to the best of their abilities to produce the best articles for that particular publication. This holds printed media to a higher standard than, say, a blog. So, the general reasoning is that if something is implied in an article that’s printed, it was intentionally put there by a professional writer and an editor (or several editors) approved it.

    Recent shifts in public media consumption, however, has left printed media in the cold. Vanity Fair’s position during such tough times is, obviously, to not care as much about it’s writing and to produce lower quality columns than it ever has. Bravo. You’ve shot yourself in the face, VF, and managed to make the rest of printed media look worse for it by comparison.

    Don’t you understand that we internet bloggers and twitter users wish we could be you? We wish we could be sitting at a desk typing away articles for a printed publication, snapping pictures of famous persons, and travelling to locations for interviews with the people who matter to the world? Don’t kill the industry, and don’t mock us. Just leave.

  4. FRED

    I looks like you got twitter all figure out, was there anyone that you looked up to or follow that you would highly recommend?

  5. Thomas Rainey

    I love twitter, and I tweet probably way more than I should. I’ve followed you on twitter. I use twitter more than ever nowadays and my blog feels abandoned!

  6. Pingback: OMG, there’s more to twitter then you see : Graphic Design Blog with a dash of Tech

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *