Rihanna's Twitter DMs and the Role of the "Relatable" Star

She recently responded to a fan with some advice on heartbreak, but it's not the first time she's been down in the DMs.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB
June 22, 2017, 10:07am

In many ways, Rihanna feels untouchable. Her self-confidence is (rightfully) god-level; she has what I will confidently state is some of the greatest style in the world; her superpower is walking over grates in stilettos without falling through them. Most recently, she single-handedly brought an almost 20-year-old Santana guitar line back to life. There is, truly, nothing that Rihanna cannot turn to gold, or make look easy.

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But, on the flip side, Rihanna is also intensely what the internet would term "relatable". There's the nonchalant, walking-out-of-places-with-a-wine glass thing, for example, and the sense that regardless of how wealthy and admired she becomes, she's essentially the same person she was before she was famous. A major part of this is attributed to how the inner circle surrounding her is still made up of people like childhood friend like Melissa Forde and personal assistant Jennifer Rosales. And then, there's also her willingness to chat intimately with her fans, usually via the medium of Twitter direct messages.

In the latest instance of this, a fan recently took to her DMs to try to get some advice about living through heartbreak:

It's not the first time that she's been approached for help by her fans. Last year, she made headlines for helping a member of the Navy come out as gay to friends and family, telling him:

Baby its okay to be scared but it's more important to be who you are! You don't have a choice really! That's not a decision to be made! You are who you are, and as hard as it may seem, the best shit is freedom and peace within yourself! Your family may not understand, but luckily you live in a generation that does!! And not to mention the community here amongst us, we will hold you down boo!!

She supported this particular fan over a long period of time as he managed to gradually come out. No no, you're crying.

Rih has also used social media for more professional purposes in the past, recruiting Instagram baddie Sanam for her "Bitch Better Have My Money" video via Instagram direct message (where she told her "I think you're so fucking rare"). Her willingness to reach out in this casual way places her in a particular subset of celebrity, who you can tell often uses their social media off their phone rather than having their every move online monitored by a PR team and management. You can also tell when Rihanna hasn't written one of her own tweets, based off the grammar and punctuation alone, so we're not living under the pretence that she's the only person with her Twitter password.

And yet, in a similar way to someone like Sarah Jessica Parker (whose Instagram is a decidedly not-glam collection of non-stylised videos from her time off, slightly grainy food shots and the odd shoe pic to keep OG Sex and the City fans keen), Rihanna's approach to social media connects rather than alienates her. Sure, it's just one DM shared by a guy on Twitter. But it also of shows that Rihanna hasn't let the superiority complex of fame totally get to her. When interviewing people in the public eye, one of the themes that often comes up is how what changes so much is the way other people treat you, how they push you towards slotting into the template of "a celebrity". It's not necessarily a choice you make for yourself. And so gestures like this are just a simple way for Rihanna to try and show some autonomy – to wave and say, 'yeah, I'm just a person too.' What's special about Rihanna is that she's just like us (carrying wine glasses out of the club and all) but doing so with a platform of visibility – and that's the kind of pop star I want to see more of.

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(Image via Flickr)