The Co.’s Katherine Gougeon (@kgougeon) explores social and cultural details that have an outsized ripple effect. 

Celebrity rivalries are as old as the Hollywood hills. Through the ages, stars have feuded over high stakes projects, A-list romantic partners, and teeny, tiny slights, both real and imagined.

What has changed? Not a whole lot. Except those teeny, tiny slights. They’re called disses now, and in the wrong celebrity Twitter feed, they can become the most flammable feud-source of all.

Back in the day, feuds unfolded in a linear fashion, and you could see the fight coming a mile away. Joan Crawford married the man of Bette Davis’ dreams. Bette kicked Joan during filming: stitches to the head. Joan retaliated by wearing a weighted belt for the scene where Bette had to carry her. And so it went.

 

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But a modern celebrity with an itchy Twitter finger can conjure a feud out of thin air. It’s a surefire way to fire up their STARmeter while moving the narrative along. Announcing he’s $53 million dollars in the hole, Kanye tweets Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Larry Page about investing $1billion into ‘Kanye West ideas’: “All you dudes in San Fran play rap music in your homes but never help the real artists…you’d rather open up one school in Africa like you really helped the country.”

Of course, such contrived, high stakes disses can turn on their originator, as Kanye’s did when Pizza Hut tweeted him a job offer. But that doesn’t lessen their power. If you’re dissin’ you’re existin’. We’re at a point where being embroiled in a Twitter battle is a status symbol. Even if you’re losing, you’re big enough to fight. It’s enough to make a B-list celeb beg: .@kanye diss me u fool!

 

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Last November, Australian actress Rebel Wilson drew first blood when she claimed the Kardashians found fame through a sex tape instead of hard work and talent. “I’d be very happy to debate the Kardashians anywhere / anytime / any topic,” she tweeted, making headlines around the world. What happened next? The Kardashians fired back. With a silence that was deafening.

Sometimes, revenge is a diss best served cold.