Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sparkle

The new phenomenon Sparkle has now gone live on www.globalsparkle.com. And what is Sparkle, you may ask. Good question. It’s a social network where stars of sports, music, film, fashion and comedy share short video-clips (usually of 1 to 2 minutes’ duration) of what is going on in their lives. Among the celebrities using Sparkle are dancer Brian Fortuna, actress Emily Atack, supermodel Caprice and then the Phelps twins, who play the Weasley twins in Harry Potter.

It is pretty clever of the Phelps twins to do Sparkle as now that Harry Potter is almost over, they have to maintain a following in order not to be forgotten when what they are famous for is coming to an end. So far there are about 30 clips of the twins on Sparkle, mostly filmed by themselves and most of them being 2 to 3 months old, so it’s old news that you get, you could say.

On Sparkle the twins share moments of their hectic and very privileged lives, all very carefully selected in order to protect their privacy. In fact the most ”private” thing you’ll see are a few clips filmed in their own shared home. Instead some clips include hidden ads for companies like Adidas and Mathiesen & Brooke Tailors Ltd., others promote some of the twins’ favourite charities like The Great Ormond Street Hospital charity or their favourite sports clubs, like Oliver Phelps’ fave FC Aston Villa.

Most of the clips are either funny or informative and held in a positive tone and this way you get a very glossy and edited picture of how it is to be a Phelps twin. There’s nothing gritty there, nothing bad or revealing. In fact the most true-to-life clips are one with James opening Oliver’s rental car door into a tree and one of Oliver and his mates being pulled over by the police outside Las Vegas for speeding.

Watching the twins ”sparkle” as it is called, you can’t help but wonder what it is good for. Fans are gonna love it, at least at first, but after watching for a while you get to wonder if this is such a good idea after all. Although the clips are designed to please fans and protect the private lives of the twins, you get a behind-the-scene picture of the Phelps boys that is probably unintended and at least unexpected. Despite the carefully selected events and the positive tone when sparkling, the twins’ personalities shine through in a way that you haven’t seen before. When interacting, Oliver Phelps comes across as the bossy big brother (he is 13 minutes older than James) and James Phelps as the sheepish little brother. In other words you get a better picture of why their mates call Oliver Grandpa and why James seems so insecure, but is it a picture that fits in with the image they have built up within their fan community?

Recently there has been a huge debate regarding whether or not Twitter is a good idea for celebrities to use, as fans grow weary of their idols’ tweets that are often meaningless and inane and the same could be said about Sparkle. Why do we need to know that Oliver has just eaten an In-N-Out Burger? And why do we need to know that James has difficulties in choosing a lining fabric for his new tuxedo? On Twitter celebrities have started losing their magic and thereby fans because of things like that and I’m afraid the same thing is going to happen to stars using Sparkle, especially stars like the Phelps twins who are on both Sparkle and Twitter. A lot of illusions are going to be shattered and what you end up with are the rather pointless sparkles of two extremely privileged boys leading extraordinary lives.

I’m sure that with Sparkle the Phelps twins are trying to strengthen their image as ordinary, down-to-earth and very approachable guys (and as celebrities come, they really are), but with the clips of them playing golf, getting fringe benefits, attending VIP parties and jet setting around the world, the result is just the opposite. Yes, they are approachable, but they are in a different league and the upper crust life has become so ordinary to them that they don’t even seem to realise. I think that after a while the Phelps twins are going to lose fans over this, because they want to seem approachable, but at the same time they are not willing to share what the fans really want to know. Instead the fans are fobbed off with inane chit-chat about a life so blessed that ordinary people can’t even start to dream about it.

In a way the celebrity “sparkles” are as phoney and staged as a Hollywood movie, because they only show edited versions of the celebrities’ lives. When that is said, I have to admit that I haven’t had enough, yet, but I will at some point, I’m sure. As for now I’m just tagging along for the ride, hoping against hope that the sparkles are going to be a bit more profound in the future.

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