More to the point, Twitter had him and his lovely wife. Moore and Kutcher were at the vanguard of the celebrity movement on Twitter: They glammed it up. Bizarrely, they achieved that by deglamourizing themselves. They were incessant tweeters, sending messages back and forth often while sitting in the same room. They turned their marriage into a kind of adorability exhibition; at times, it could feel like an epistolary sitcom. In the context of the times, you could say that they were scooping the tabloids by tapping directly into the public’s voyeuristic instinct. If you want to understand just how completely Twitter has broken down the old wall between celebrities and the public, then it’s helpful to consider that in 1991 Demi Moore could be photographed nude and pregnant on the cover of a major magazine, and Annie Leibovitz could capture her image with such radiance that she seemed to resemble a proto-Christian celestial Madonna. In 2009, her husband posted a TwitPic of her butt.
The other celebrities arrived. Twitter introduced the “verified account,” which was helpful for two reasons: First, because you never had to worry that “therealbritneyspears” was not, in fact, the real Britney Spears; and second, because now we finally had an uncannily precise metric for what, exactly, separated a celebrity from a non-celebrity. (You are no one if you don’t have a verified account.) Later that month, the Iranian protests broke out, and Michael Jackson died, and Twitter experienced its first real Moment. In October, Roger Ebert joined Twitter, loved it, became the site’s best argument for itself. Comedians discovered Twitter and gave it a jolt of must-make-you-laugh kinetic energy: Now, if you were tweeting about going to the gym, you had to be at least a little funny about it.
Through all of this, Kutcher and Moore began to feel a little bit like the First Couple of Twitter. For about a year, you couldn’t read an article about social media without at least one quote from Kutcher. Their streams maintained a nice, down-home quality. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Moore tweeted a photo of the happy couple in bed together. They were, she explained, just lounging around, having fun, watching Breaking Bad. The funny thing is that Moore and Kutcher were never particularly funny on Twitter. The attraction, I think, lay in their intimacy. Most celebrities make Twitter a one-way conversation: “I am celebrity. You are fan. We talk now.” The Moore-Kutcher dynamic was more complex — they let you into their intimacy. You got the feeling that Twitter was just a fun ride for them (Kutcher always referred to Moore as “wifey”) and so why not join in?
Of course, Twitter doesn’t create real intimacy any more than reality shows present actual reality. Somewhere along the way, Twitter’s first couple became uncoupled. You could argue that the magic was already gone earlier this year, when Kutcher successfully leveraged his Internet fame into a new lead role on Two and a Half Men. Kutcher’s character was a fabulated vision of Kutcher himself: Walden Schmidt is an Internet billionaire, where Kutcher just had a lot of Internet money. He quickly turned his role on the show into an embedded advertisement for some of his own companies: It was the same huckster impulse that got him on Twitter in the first place. Meanwhile, Kutcher’s Twitter stream was stumbling: He made an incredibly poorly-timed football tweet on September 11, and after Paterno-gate, he declared he’d hand the stream over to his PR peeps.
Kutcher’s and Moore’s followers never saw any of the things that precipitated their divorce. Moore made the announcement the old-fashioned way: With a carefully-worded press release. Perhaps it’s understandable that she wouldn’t want to do any tweeting just now: After all, her suddenly-inaccurate Twitter handle is @mrskutcher. Kutcher tweeted his farewell. “I will forever cherish the time I spent with Demi,” he said.
Reading that is oddly jarring: It’s hard to remember Kutcher ever calling Moore by her first name before. It’s a sad final note. For almost three curiously fascinating years, Kutcher and Moore talked to each other on Twitter. Now, like every other celebrity, they’re just talking to us.
Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich
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