When Did Celebrities Get So Bad At Taking Criticism?

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Reviewers and artists work in a complicated, symbiotic relationship where both need the other. And new digital platforms have made that relationship even more fraught; as Alison Herman writes at the Ringer, “Thanks to social media, it’s both harder than ever for stars to shield themselves from the noise and easier than ever for them to respond directly to what surely feels like an all-out assault on their character.” But it’s not a journalist’s or critic’s job to fluff a celebrity’s ego.

As a famous person, you have agents, managers, makeup artists, hairstylists, friends, family, internet fans, IRL fans, strangers on the street, Twitter, Instagram, stan culture at large, and the people buying tickets to see you live, who are all more than happy to let you know that you’re the greatest person in the world. To expect the same from writers doing their best to honestly and insightfully assess your work or your public image is a misunderstanding of what we’re trying to accomplish.

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Welcome to Voldemorting, the Ultimate SEO Dis

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I’m so tired of all the bad news on birdsite.”

“Yeah, there’s just too much about The Cheeto.”

Cheeto and birdsite might not be common vocabulary, but the phrases are strangely interpretable. It’s easy to jump from Cheeto to Donald Trump or from birdsite to Twitter. Even more understandable is the attitude that comes along for the ride: Somehow it’s clear that someone who uses ornate synonyms isn’t happy about either entity.

…what does it mean for communication in the internet age that we’re increasingly drawn to elaborate synonyms?

A recent paper by researcher Emily van der Nagel puts a name to this phenomenon of hiding a word in plain sight. She calls it Voldemorting. Van der Nagel traces Voldemorting back to the Harry Potter books, where most characters are too afraid of Voldemort to say the word directly, instead replacing his name with euphemisms like You Know Who and He Who Must Not Be Named. This practice starts as a superstition, but by the final book there’s a deeper purpose: The word Voldemort is revealed as a way of locating the resistance: “Using his name breaks protective enchantments, it causes some kind of magical disturbance.”