Back in the days of old AOL, it was all the rave to have a screenname (aka handle) that sounded like a known celebrity. At the time, no one really thought anyone was who they said they were (Superman, Prince, Madonna) until actual celebrities started staking out their names and demanding legitimacy. I’ve always preferred using mythological creatures and character names myself (you can get into some copyright issues there, too, if you name your WoW character “Richard Rahl”).
But with the popularity of Twitter, the game of celebrity impersonation has been taken to a whole new level. While some celebrities have “verified” themselves and others have professional “tweeters” keeping fans happy, others haven’t started playing or have no intention of doing so. This makes them prime targets for impersonation, and some clever impersonators have gotten away with quite a bit: Celebrity Roleplaying.
Smart followers know that if you want a real celebrity’s obscure Twitter feed, find it on a “certified” celebrity’s list. But if you can fool a real celebrity into giving you street credentials by leveraging a bit of private or even personal information, celebrity is yours… for as long as you can keep it up. Then the game is about followers, but the more you have, the closer each tweet is scrutinized until you finally slip up.
Such a clever fake celebrity was @jonahhill_jew, who recently gave it all up with confession on http://mynamewasjonah.blogspot.com. The sad truth is, he was fairly entertaining as “fake” Jonah Hill, but laments that the same comments made on his own “real” Twitter feed fell flat.
So, to paraphrase the “talented” Mr. Ripley, would your rather be a fake somebody than a real nobody?