Demi Moore Versus Perez Hilton
There is something slightly surreal about Demi Moore duking it out on Twitter in real time with Perez Hilton, and yet, lo and behold, that is exactly what just happened this afternoon. It speaks to the vast sea-change that the media landscape has undergone that these two outsize media personalities were going at it -- unmoderated by any outlet other than that Deus Otiosus, Twitter -- for all the world to read. It gathered steam quickly, it reached it's peak, then petered out, gradually, in rhetorical exhaustion. Is this the future of media fights? Are we in for more bareknuckled brawls like this in cyberspace?
About 2 pm on Friday, Demi Tweeted, tartly, "Anyone who advertises follows or supports Perez supports violating child pornography laws!"
Some back story. For a couple of months now, Perez has been attacking Demi Moore's daughter, Tallulah. Considering Perez's demographic reach and the circles in which Talullah travels, this cannot have been a good online summer with regards to those posts. I cannot fail to note here that the girl in question is 15. Remember where you were at at 15? That's kind of young to get the full Perez public spitball treatment, no? On August 16th, for example, he Tweeted: "Tallulah Willis, 15, dressing like a slut! Look at her boobs! ... Demi, Ashton and Bruce are GREAT parents!" That elegant posting has the quadruple effect of attacking a 15-year ald and her three parents/guardians all in one fell swoop. Nice.
The problem of Perez's anger is that the moral outrage that was so righteous and so obviously present on the Carrie Prejean issue -- for which I praised him -- rings hollow here. Since when has Perez ever been a defender of the morals of the bodies of young women? We were treated to feral attacks and, worse, links that are unflattering to say the least to Tallulah. Why? Because Tallulah dressed -- arguably -- a bit provocatively? Is that enough reason for Perez to Tweet to Ashton Kutcher (and, by proxy, his 1.4 million Followers): "Did your wife forget to take her menopause medication? You better keep her in check!"
Charmed, I'm sure.
"This is not a game," Demi Moore Tweeted at about 3 pm. "Children should not be exploited. They must be protected." And I think -- looking over the Tweets -- that that is the problem in a nutshell. Did Perez promote child pornography? Of course not. But Moore is defending her daughter's honor (that comes across strongly if you scrawl down Demi's responses to Perez's hysterical attacks), and Perez is not backing down from a position where he really ought to back down. There is nothing in the way that Tallulah dressed that ought to provoke such a level of outrage from Perez. But calling attention to the mildly provocative outfits and commenting on it sets off alarms in protective mommy bears. That's just natural. Incidentally, wouldn't posting links to the offending outfits -- and reTweeting those same links a second time to over a million followers -- be the worst possible way to express such a moral outrage, Perez? Couldn't he have made the argument without the picture links (like I just did)? And we won't entertain the possibility that Perez went batshit because even a whiff of child pornography -- even if it's hyperbolic; even if it doesn't stick -- could capsize his new venture, CocoPerez, aimed at young women.
An interesting, curious added attraction to the fight was the allies. Twitter is nothing if not a collective enterprise. Demi drew Ralph Macchio and Alyssa Milano (who has emerged, mirabile dictu, as a sort of Twitter Sheriff for embattled online celebrity ladies) to her side in what could only be properly construed as a cyber instance of 80s solidarity. While Perez, the new media upstart, drew "Speidi." We'll withhold our judgement as to who won the "who-has-cooler-friends" battle (Averted Gaze).
Frankly, I don't know what sparked this online conflagration. It was over as fast as a summer storm. Few media outlets even noted its passing. Could there be more backstory behind Demi and Perez than just those Tallulah tweets? Does this go back to his nasty ad hominem posts about Rumor Willis? Or was it the fact that Demi Moore stood up to online attacks at a popular gossip site against her 15-year old daughter that have been going on since June? Can you blame her for being upset? No. Can you blame him for not backing down or at least acknowledging why a mother might be upset? Well, yeah.