A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Thunder fever, celebrity feuds fuel love-hate relationship with Twitter
T. Boone Pickens and Drake and the Flaming Lips and Erykah Badu are the latest celebrities to cross swords on the microblogging site.
Confession: I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter that would have little love in it if not for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For me, the best side benefit to the Thunder’s playoff success this season has been my newfound affection for the social media outlet, which I signed up for awhile ago because I had to for work and mostly considered kind of a nuisance.
Since I don’t have the money, time or babysitter availability to afford Thunder tickets, I have found a fun and energizing use for the microblogging site: tweeting (@BAMOK) about playoff games with dozens of other fans of Oklahoma City’s hoops heroes. Marveling over Russell Westbrook’s circus shots, James Harden’s beard-powered three-pointers and Kevin Durant’s Superman-like abilities with other Thunder devotees has added a rich communal aspect to watching from home.
To be fair, it’s not the first time I’ve found something of value in Twitter. Reba McEntire posted a touching tribute when Dick Clark died, Toby Keith uses it to keep folks up to speed on his United Service Organization tours, and Blake Shelton’s feed is always good for a laugh, as long as you’re not easily offended. Plus, Twitter has become so pervasive that even longtime holdout Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) caved and joined earlier this spring.
But a pair of recent Twitter exchanges, both coincidentally involving people with Oklahoma ties, demonstrates the wonderful weirdness vs. the soul-sucking ugliness of following celebrities on the site.
First, the wonderfully weird, or what Gizmodo.com called the “Most Magical Event in Twitter History”: the recent learning experience energy magnate and Oklahoma State University alumnus T. Boone Pickens (@boonepickens) served up for rapper Drake (@Drake). It all started when Drake in his youthful exuberance posted “The first million is the hardest,” and it got retweeted umpteen times.
Somehow, the tweet made its way to T. Boone’s attention, and he replied “The first billion is a helluva lot harder.”
Take that, young whippersnapper. And he did. Drake responded “@boonepickens just stunted on me heavy.” Indeed.
Just imagine, Twitter allowed this crazy exchange between the 84-year-old wind-power advocate from Texas and the 25-year-old actor/rapper from Canada to really happen. Even more than that, Drake didn’t embark on some vast Twitter feud with T. Boone but responded with grace, humility and humor, basically acknowledging, “Well, played, sir.”
As Gizmodo put it, “Twitter has now peaked and concluded, so pack your things and stop reading. It’s been fun!”
We should have listened, because days later, one of the ugliest and most epic celebrity Twitter feuds in the social media sphere’s relatively short history erupted. Of course, I’m talking about the battle between Oklahoma City-based Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and Texas soul singer Erykah Badu.
A couple weeks ago, Pitchfork.com released a nudity-filled music video for the beautiful cover of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” that Badu and the Lips recorded for the fearless freaks’ Record Store Day album “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends.” The video features Badu and her lookalike sister Nayrok baring all in a bathtub filled with golden glitter, then fake blood and simulated bodily fluids.
While the content may have been shocking, it wasn’t that surprising considering the sources: The Lips have incorporated nudity into many of their clips, most recently back in April for the clip for “Girl, You’re So Weird,” a collaboration with New Fumes, and Badu famously stripped on the streets of Dallas for her “Window Seat” video.
At first, Badu (@fatbellybella) seemed to like the new video, tweeting to Coyne (@waynecoyne), “it looks beautiful. Nayrok ( lil sis) looks amazing . U are a Tru visionary .. My fav is the glitter.” adding in another tweet, “Video looks cosmic.”
Then the real bloodbath started. The video was taken down and the Lips issued an apology, saying it was “unedited and unapproved.” Coyne reiterated the apology on Twitter: “To all the haters who think Erykah Badu has lost her mind!!! She has NOT!!! The Flaming Lips take full responsibility.”
Oh, if it could have only ended there. Instead, Badu used TwitLonger — honestly, what’s the point of the 140-character limit on tweets if there’s a function that lets you post a manifesto the length of a high-school term paper but with worse grammar? — later that day to reply with a diatribe calling Coyne “self-serving,” dubbing the video “tasteless, meaningless (and) shock motivated” and instructing him to “kiss my glittery a- -.”
Naturally, Coyne posted a picture of himself with glitter-covered lips and the message, “I kissed it! Thanks!” He also praised Badu for her skills as a “media manipulator,” noting the feud caused the video to go viral.
Both began a rapid-fire retweeting of their followers’ comments on the topic; Badu and Coyne’s wife, local photographer Michelle Martin-Coyne, tangled on Twitter; and at some point, the relative age of Coyne’s posterior came into the conversation.
And on it went. For days. Both Coyne and Badu were still tweeting about it earlier this week.
For a micro-blogging site, it was a macro-level fuss that made me hate Twitter for the better part of a week.
But then the NBA Finals started and Harden (@JHarden13) tweeted about his love for OKC, and my love for Twitter was renewed.
And then rapper Lil Wayne (@LilTunechi) used Twitter to again complain that the Chesapeake Energy Arena staff failed to adequately fawn over him during Game 1.
Sigh. And my love-hate relationship with Twitter rages on.