Whoever came up with the old adage that you should never meet your idols must be feeling pretty smug. Today on Twitter, you can not only meet your idols, you can see just how stupid or smart, funny, deep, or vacuous they really are.
In the case of 50 Cent, it’s a little bit of all of the above.
At times mildly amusing, misogynistic, offensive, earnest and, dull, the rapper might have put his sizable foot too far inside his equally sizable loud mouth.
“If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it,” he tweeted last week. “The world will be a better place. Lol.”
The rapper’s entire defense for anything mildly upsetting on his Twitter feed is “just playing.”
The tweet came on the heels of the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a gay college freshman who killed himself after his sexual exploits were broadcast on the Internet. For many, who had the suicide fresh in their minds, 50 Cent stepped way over the line. Or did he?
Did the rapper really just tell gay men to kill themselves? Or was he, as a few people interpreted the tweet, merely advocating male-to-female oral sex, becoming, in a bizarre way, an advocate of pro-female sexuality?
According to 50 Cent, he was doing neither. He took to Twitter and defended himself:
“The other night I made a joke about a blow job. My male followers enjoyed it. So I then went on to joke about women receiving the same. Somehow they turned a simple joke about oral sex into an antigay statement. I have nothing against people who choose and alternative lifestyle in fact I’ve publicly stated my mom loved women. It’s funny how people think negative statements are news worthy but positive statements are not worthy of coverage. Access Hollywood for got to put ‘laughing out loud’ lol that was at the end of that statement.”
Indeed, the rapper’s entire defense for anything mildly upsetting on his Twitter feed is “just playing.”
But he is harder to get a read on than it would first appear. Late to the Twitter game, his feed first appeared over the summer, creating a stir on the social networking site. Here was a new celebrity toy to play with, a potential usurper of the crazy and narcissistic crowns held by Kanye West (another newcomer) and Courtney Love (who quit the site Tuesday after posting a nude photo of herself). A mirror Twitter feed @ English50cent quickly appeared. Like the @ CourtneyLoveTranslated feed before it, it was designed to turn 50’s often misspelled, carelessly punctuated, and slang-filled Tweets into proper English.
At first 50 Cent’s feed offered some hilarious bits:
He made fun of Kanye: “just looked @ kanye page what the fuck kinda spaced out tweets r those. fuck that I aint never looking @ that shit again.”
He made some humorous but sexist jokes about his “grandma.” :”My grandma pregnant again trying to talk her out of keeping it.”
He revealed his sensitive side: “Good morning people just woke up. I’m a live thank god today is going to be a good day.”
He made a joke: “Announcement I will no longer be using foul language on twitter for now on my tweets are PG13.”
He admitted that a book was too boring to finish: "It started off good then it felt like it was written for a scientist. It just not my kinda book.”
He even made some sense: “Look we all need each other. Anybody up on twitter at 2 o’clock in the morning is fucked up! Admit it. We all fucked up.”
But over the course of the last few months, the rapper has revealed more of himself, some of it not so pretty. His feed is reminiscent of the dating dance people do when they first meet: put on your best face, but over time the mask disintegrates.
50 Cent’s mask has disintegrated.
In addition to his controversial, possibly homophobic tweet, he found himself in hot water with the sometimes humorless animal rights organization PETA for staging a knife fight with his dog, a miniature schnauzer named Oprah. The photo was funny. It played off of his reputation as a thug, showing that the hardened rapper had a tiny dog. For those who didn’t get the message, there was a bubble cartoon that read: “It’s not that serious, so chill out!” The next two photos were less funny: They showed the dog seemingly cowering, begging for forgiveness (”Before you cut me did I tell you how much I love you”), all of which had weird abusive relationship overtones.
And the dog’s name was less funny still: As Entertainment Weekly’s Christian Blauvelt wrote: “To refresh your memory, in 2006 he went all Jonathan Franzen on the Queen of All Media for not featuring more rappers on her talk-show. (At the time, he said “I think she caters to older white women. So I could care less about Oprah or her show.”) Needless to say, naming his dog after Ms. Winfrey doesn’t seem like an affectionate homage.”
The Twitter feed he created for “Oprah The Dog, Oprah Winfree,” was given the tag line “50 Cents’ bitch.” She has 10,000 followers.
The biggest problem with 50 Cent, however, is the homophobia that tinges his online persona. Following the rapper on Twitter is sort of like watching the MTV reality show Jersey Shore: The boorish cast members are not people you would hang out with in real life, but spending an hour with them can be fun. You overlook the grossly misogynistic and un-PC side of 50 Cent because he occasionally makes you laugh. Until he doesn’t. You want to believe that someone like Chelsea Handler couldn’t possibly date someone like 50 Cent if he were all that bad.
While it might be true that Fiddy’s tweet about oral sex wasn’t homophobic and was never meant to be read as such, it’s hard to ignore the phrasing in his tweeted apology. He has nothing against those who “choose” an “alternative lifestyle.” It is the same wording that anti-gay people use all the time. The implication is that being gay is somehow a choice.
And then there’s his history of homophobic statements.
He told Playboy magazine in 2004: “I ain’t into faggots. I don’t like gay people around me, because I’m not comfortable with what their thoughts are. I’m not prejudiced. I just don’t go with gay people and kick it—we don’t have that much in common. I’d rather hang out with a straight dude. But women who like women, that’s cool.”
When the Kanye West-Lady Gaga tour was announced last year, he sighed, “Ah, the gay tour.”
Of course, gay rumors have followed the rapper himself throughout his career, leading openly gay singer Rufus Wainwright to flirt with him via Details magazine: “I love, love 50 Cent. I think he’s just the sexiest, and a brilliant writer. And I know he’s gay.”
James Hannaham, the author of God Says No, a novel about a closeted man coming to grips with sexuality, said of Fiddy's Tweet: " In a way it's very dog-bites-man, isn't it? Hip-hop homophobia shocker! And technically the tweet in question only mentions men who don't eat pussy, which unfortunately for women doesn't mean they're gay."
The African-American novelist—who was briefly cast in Queer Eye for the Straight Guy—joked about Fiddy's boastful pictures of his hot body: "The other, more obviously homophobic tweet seems almost flirty when translated from the gangsta: 'Don't you gay boys look at my SEXY PICTURES!' What a tease."
"And if Fiddy's on the latest trends, he must know that the louder you complain about homos these days, the more likely you are to be on the down-low yourself. And I'm sorry, Fiddy's like, the El Dorado of rough trade," said Hannaham.
Maybe Fiddy is just LOL-ing most of the time? The observation of one commenter in the Entertainment Weekly article was astute: “Maybe he has a sense of humor. Just the sense of humor of a moron.”
So perhaps we should listen to the source himself, via Twitter: “I don’t know why yal follow me anyway yal know I’m half crazy.”
Tricia Romano is an award-winning writer who has written about pop culture, style, and celebrity for the New York Times, the Village Voice, Spin, and Radar magazine. She won Best Feature at the Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award for her Village Voice cover story, about sober DJs and promoters in the nightlife industry, " The Sober Bunch."