Monday, February 22, 2010

Davies (Alan) at Large

Of all the celebrities on Twitter, Alan Davies (@alandavies1, should anyone be wondering) is by far the most interesting. Not because of what he himself says, which is usually something about Arsenal, but because of his modus operandi, particularly with regard to re-tweeting. For the uninitiated, this is when you take a tweet written by someone else and forward it to everybody following you.

Davies has built a career from his regular guy/affable eejit persona (good luck to him - I wish I could find a niche that didn't pay atrociously), but many who've worked with him or otherwise encountered him have found him less than affable. Me included. I met him once at a Jane Goldman book launch, and received a withering tirade about the evils of journalism and journalists, even trade press hacks who were just there to neck a few canapes and write an innocuous 'guests included' paragraph for the dreary, sorry, diary column. Seemingly, he didn't realise that, had I been the vindictive sort of journalist, he'd have been giving me plenty of ammunition to give him another unfavourable bit of coverage. I wasn't, so I just thought "what an appallingly rude man". Or words to that effect.

Last week, a friend of mine asked on Twitter "Anyone got a story about Alan Davies where he doesn't come across as a complete prick? ...Anyone?". This was then re-tweeted by Davies. The aforementioned friend then received a number of messages from some of Davies' followers.

  • just shut up.
  • I interviewed him at a charity event at Emirates Stadium a couple of years ago and he was a thoroughly nice chap
  • no, but that's the genius of it, making a living out of being a complete prick. That only happens with politicians, celebs and Alan
  • No i haven't, has anyone got a story about you being a complete prick? is there any need to be offensive?
  • i don't have any storys about him but he comes across as charismatic, funny and positive.....unlike you !
  • well I interviewed him on my show and he was perfectly charming.
  • Aw what?! Alan Davies is a legend!!!
  • nope
  • I could write one, aside from being a Gooner he seems OK to me.
  • I once bumped into him (quite literally) as I was walking out of a Bill Bailey show. He said hello! he did ignore a direct msg i sent yesterday for some big big help i need. that does not actually make him a prick
  • That time he retweeted you so his large fanbase can have a laugh at your expense ;)
  • Ouch!
  • Hv u tried @alandavies1 He might have 1?
  • that isnt nice at all, would you actually say that to his face? if you cant say something nice, then say nothing! (@alandavies1)
  • Yes thanks. @alandavies1 is a top fella.
  • but really, he's a lovely man. Said hi to him at the DB10 testimonial and he replied nicely.
  • Now that's a tricky one...
  • yes, i was begging for change once and he bit me on the nose. it was for my own good like, he popped a spot for me with his teeth.
As you can see, the responses ranged from the reasonable to the idiotic, with a disturbing number suggesting that because Davies is famous, he must also be a smashing bloke. One indicated that a reply or a retweet from Davies would make her day. Why, exactly? The downside of Twitter is the number of people trying to get noticed, however briefly, by celebrities. I use it mostly to kvetch with my mates. To the famous, it's mostly a marketing tool. Nothing wrong with that. Just know the rules of engagement. Following a celebrity does not make you closer to them.

Some of my chum's replies came from people who appear not to read Davies' tweets properly. The "If you can't say something nice, say nothing" tweeter seems not to have noticed Davies posting messages like "@alandavies1 Can you get a JLS punchbag? Why not? Just photos of all those great boys, but on a bag you can punch?".

When I picked up on my friend's situation, I sent him a message: "So, how does this work? You say something critical about @alandavies1 and a bunch of fuckwits start following you? Coincidence?". The word 'critical' was a carefully-placed red herring (or even a QI-style elephant trap), as neither my friend nor I had actually said anything critical about Davies. We had merely asked questions. My message was re-tweeted by Davies within minutes.

Another friend of mine picked up on the situation and offered moral support. I explained what was going on, copying Davies in.

  • @alandavies1 has retweeted it and 1 of his followers is now following me. Here's hoping he's not a fuckwit.
    I'm hoping to disprove someone else's suggestion that @alandavies1 uses his fans as a sort of Praetorian (Twittorian?) Guard.
    If @alandavies1 did, it would be quite cowardly, very twatty and not a little needy, don't you think? Let's hope he doesn't.

Curiously, Davies retweeted none of the above. I didn't receive any direct responses, but plenty of Davies' followers replied to him with messages along the lines of "Why are all these beastly people so mean to our favourite curly-mopped funster?", the followers not actually noticing that I hadn't actually been mean to him. I was particularly amused by "Thanks for the @cheeseford RT. Good to know who the prats are, out there on the Twitter fringes. All the best." Out here on the Twitter fringes would have been more accurate, as the Twitterer in question is no closer to the epicentre than I am. Maybe he thinks he's at the throbbing heart of power because he follows some bloke from a panel game. He isn't.

One exchange was interesting:

  • - @alandavies1 Thanks for the C-word RT. :-}
    - don't shoot the messenger...just the sort of stuff that comes in daily. And I'm supposed to be the rabble rouser on here...
    - @alandavies1 There are so many dorks out there. Water off a duck's back I hope?
    - Yes. It's been a relentless campaign of libellous blogging & anonymous tweeting with the odd ludicrous article in the Telegraph

Anonymous? Well, that's me and my mate in the clear, as our real names are at the tops of our Twitter pages. Oddly, he doesn't seem anywhere near as dismissive of praise from people who tweet under names other than the ones on their birth certificate. The "ludicrous" Telegraph article? Decide for yourself. Personally, I think it's perfectly fair. I might feel different if it had been written about me, but I try not to do things that get me written about (apart from book reviews). It's the "don't shoot the messenger" that intrigues me most, though. He's saying "Hey, I just pass it on", but as we've seen, he re-tweets selectively, and it always seems to be the stuff that could look, if you were in a hurry or not very good at reading comprehension, like someone was having a go at him. This raises the question "Why does he re-tweet these messages?". Or rather why he re-tweets some messages, but not others. Could it be that he realises he has an army of adoring fans who think he can do no wrong, quite likes it, and knows how to play on their loyalty? Nah, he's TV's top tousle-haired affable eejit regular guy. He wouldn't do that. Would he?


Five-Centres said...

That's why I hate Twitter. People if they follow a celeb they are therefore friends with them. Like that's ever going to happen.

In mine and everyone else's experience he can be one of the most difficult people alive. Read the cuts, it's all in there.

Five-Centres said...

...that should be 'people think if'

Louis Barfe said...

Why would anyone want to be friends with a celebrity simply because they're famous? Is that how some people define themselves? Does a tenuous connection to a famous person give them validation? Whose life does it improve?

Celeb-frotting is the down side of Twitter, but as another means by which I can banter with Rudd and Masterton, it has a lot going for it. And one of my non-famous friends is a very funny man - tweeting yard after yard of very Jewish one-liners, most of them completely original.