Most explosive celebrity social media rows from Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy to Donald Trump and Chrissy Teigen

The Independent Lifestyle 2 months ago

Thanks to the advent of social media, it’s become fairly common for people in the public eye to share their gripes on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or all of the above.

But given the number of followers celebrities have, any impassioned conversations they have online often make headlines, with the occasional exchange going viral.

The latest public dispute to become mainstream news is between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy. The two women are closely associated through their husbands, footballers Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy. On Wednesday, Rooney posted a message on Twitter in which she accused Vardy of having sold stories to a tabloid newspaper about her. Vardy has since responded on Twitter by denying the claims.

Rooney and Vardy’s dispute has elicited a flurry of media attention, with people all over social media chiming in to offer their thoughts on a matter that would typically unfold behind closed doors, but is now on the front page of the internet for all to see. 

But what compels celebrities to argue online in the first place? And why does the public have such a vested interest in their feuds?

At just 11 years old, Marley Dias gained international attention in 2016 after becoming frustrated with the lack of diversity in her school curriculum. What followed was a viral social media campaign, #1000blackgirlbooks, calling for titles featuring black girls as protagonists to be donated. Nearly 4,000 books were donated, and Dias now tackles prejudice and advocates for diversity in literature.
Rina Sawayama came in a blaze of neon and sci-fi coolness in early 2016 when she released the single 'Where U Are', which explored how humans interact with digital media. Since then, the singer and model from north London has been a trailblazer for intersectional feminism. Whether it’s singing about her experiences as a pansexual woman or starting Twitter conversations about cultural appropriation in the media, Sawayama has taken both the music world and social media by storm with her politically vibrant work. A quick look at her Instagram account (@rinasonline) will reveal a confident woman who is not afraid to voice her opinions to her 141,000 followers.
At only 24 years old, Eggerue came to prominence with her viral 2017 social media campaign #SaggyBoobsMatter. 'It was only small-boobed women who were ‘allowed’ to not wear a bra,' the author said in an interview with The Guardian. “I couldn’t understand why … I had to challenge it.” Her decision to not wear a bra shouldn’t be deemed radical, yet here she is in 2019 challenging the ideas that women are pressured to confirming too. Women of all ages and shapes use the hashtag to show pride in themselves, as a result of the body positivity Eggerue championed. Her blog, The Slumflower, also discusses sexism, feminism and racism.
You may know her as the writer who exposed Philip Green’s willingness to profit off feminism but reject the idea of having a pink pop-up stall in Topshop back in October 2018. However, Scarlett Curtis is a trail-blazing feminist in other ways too. The author of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink & Other Lies co-founded The Pink Protest – a collective helping young feminist activist to take action online – in 2017, all while using her social media to challenge misogyny whenever she encounters it.
Also known as the mother of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke is an American social activist who is largely responsible for the international movement against sexual harassment that went viral in October 2017. The phrase was first used in 2006 on Burke’s Myspace account after she responded to a 13-year-old girl who had been sexually assaulted. The hashtag gained traction after actress Alyssa Milano encouraged victims of harassment to tweet the phrase. The call-out followed sexual abuse allegations against disgraced film producter Harvey Weinstein and has been used at least 19 million times on social media. Burke is a life-long activist for victims of sexual assault and harassment and continues to campaign such issues on social media. She has single-handedly changed the conversation on sexual violence.
Tired of being unable to walk down the street without being constantly catcalled by men, activist Sophie Sandberg took to Instagram to expose an epidemic rife in society. Armed with multi-coloured chalk, she began documenting the horrific words that had been said to her all over New York in late 2016. Talking to the BBC about the project she stated: 'By writing [catcalls] in the same place that it happened, I hope the words may remember and think "Oh those were my words".' Women around the globe have been inspired by Sandberg’s work and Instagram accounts of women chalking messages have since sprung up from Columbia to Bangladesh.
Hannah Witton is a sex-positive YouTuber and author who has vlogged candidly about sexual health, relationships and women’s issues since 2011. Over the years, the Mancunian has amassed over 500,000 subscribers. Witton is inspirationally confident and isn’t afraid of talking about her sex life to her thousands of subscribers in videos such as 'How Many People Have I Slept With?' and 'The Benefits of Porn'. The vlogger is also a champion for body positivity (her most viewed video with over 8 million views is about the struggles of large boobs) and invisible illnesses – as she herself suffers from ulcerative colitis and proudly wears a stoma.
British model Adwoa Aboah is no stranger to the crippling effect of depression having suffered from it herself. This is why the star established the mental health community Gurls Talk. It began in 2015 with an Instagram account and now serves as a place to discuss topics affecting women without any fear of judgement. It has since grown into a weekly podcast and a series of organised events that have brought women together from across the globe. Talking to the BBC about the project, Aboah noted: 'At school there still isn’t a place for girls and boys to realise they’re not alone …There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise that.'
YouTuber Laci Green has been educating her subscribers on the nuances of sex education for over 10 years and has amassed over 1.4 million subscribers. The vlogger's videos, which are prominent in the sex-positive movement due to their candour, cover topics such as birth control, hormones and abortion in an attempt to remove the stigma surrounding them. Green is also very outspoken against slut-shaming and sexual harassment, being one of the first YouTubers to address the sexual harassment claims levied against vlogger Sam Pepper in 2014.
From describing broadcaster Piers Morgan an 'idiot' to declaring herself a communist on Good Morning Britain, Ash Sarkar is a dynamic journalist making waves on the internet and TV. The north London native champions the rights of women and immigrants on social media, with a Twitter account that is rife with political commentary with a humorous edge. Meanwhile, her Instagram showcases all her campaigning work including protests on climate change and Brexit. Sarkar is also a senior editor at Novara Media – an independent, radical left-wing news organisation.
Writer and activist Gina Martin hit national headlines when she began a viral campaign to make 'upskirting' illegal. Taking to Facebook, Martin explained how a man took photos of her crotch without her permission and got away with it in a post that subsequently went viral in 2017. She then launched a petition for her case to be reopened and for the action to be made part of the 2003 Sexual Offences Act. Using the hashtag, #StopSkirtingTheIssue, the petition managed to get over 100,000 signatures. As of 2019, 'upskirting' is now illegal and this is largely down to the efforts of Martin. The activist continues to promote feminist causes to her 40,000 Instagram followers.
When Rowan Blanchard isn’t taking over the world of acting, she’s taking to Twitter and Instagram to talk to her 5.1 million followers about various activist pursuits. The 17-year-old uses her platform to discuss social and economic issues, with topics as diverse as human rights and gun control, and isn’t afraid to give a voice to those who haven’t been heard. Blanchard was very vocal in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas shootings earlier this year, talking with activists and highlighting their plight on social media.
As the founder of Gal-dem, a magazine produced by women of colour, Liv Little has gained international recognition for her work in diversifying print media. After becoming frustrated with the lack of representation at Bristol University where Little attended, the 25-year-old created the publication in an attempt to give women of colour a voice in the media. Her business is growing rapidly, alongside Gal-dem’s social media following which stands at more than 111,000. Little can be found on Twitter talking about everything from activism to literature.
Blaque is a transgender activist who forged her career calling out racism, transphobia and white privilege on her successful YouTube channel of the same name. In an interview with The Huffington Post she said: 'I’m a woman. I’m black. I’m curvy and I’m trans … when I talk about those things, I am literally talking about my embodiment of those intersections.' Her series, 'True Tea', is where she candidly embraces controversial topics in an attempt to change the narrative around them. Videos include 'Why is "LeftTube" So White' and 'Cultures Are Not Costumes'.

Social media expert Jodie Cook, owner of JC Social Media Agency, explains to The Independent that our perceptions of what is public and private has changed in a way that fuels this behaviour.

“People increasingly live their lives online, and using social media during an argument has become a way for people to put the power firmly back into their own hands," she says.

"Social media also makes it easier for celebrities and people in the public eye to share their news without relying on journalists or publications."

Additionally, some people might find it easier to take their feuds online because they feel vindicated to be crueller in a public space, says digital detox expert Tanya Goodin.

“We simply say things we wouldn’t dream of saying in real life on social media,” Goodin tells The Independent. “That’s largely because all the cues that might stop us saying something in anger are missing – we can’t see the hurt expression on the recipients face or their body language as we let stream a blast of invective.” 

Social media users are increasingly neglecting the fact that there are real people behind avatars and feeds, Goodin adds, which allows this behaviour to flourish. “Disagreements are always much better sorted out face-to-face but we seem to have forgotten that as Twitter spats become the new normal,” she says.

From Rooney and Vardy to disputes between Chrissy Teigen and Donald Trump, read on for some of the most explosive social media arguments that have occurred between celebrities in recent years.

Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy

The dispute between Rooney and Vardy emerged on Wednesday. Rooney tweeted a statement in which she accused Vardy of leaking stories from her Instagram account to The Sun.

In her message, Rooney claimed she had suspected Vardy was behind the leaks and confirmed her suspicions following a process of elimination.

Within the hour, Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, had vehemently denied the allegations in a statement in which she claimed her Instagram account must have been hacked. Vardy also expressed regret that Rooney had chosen to make the dispute public rather than settling it privately.

“Coleen clearly feels she has been tricked,” says Cook. “Conducting an experiment to find out who was betraying her was something she deemed necessary in order to find out and explore the perpetrator. “Perhaps this should be kept ‘private’, but then that depends on what you deem as private. Here, it looks like Colleen is setting the record straight. She lost control over what was made public in the first place, so now she wants her side of the story to be public too.”

Chrissy Teigen and Donald Trump

Model Chrissy Teigen is far from the only person with whom the president of the United States has argued online, but she is perhaps the most notable.

Teigen’s repeated Twitter takedowns of Trump frequently go viral, but the animosity made headlines in September when the president criticised her and her husband, musician John Legend, for not giving him credit for signing a bill on criminal justice reform.

“I SIGNED IT INTO LAW, no one else did, and Republicans deserve much credit,” Trump wrote. “But now that it is passed, people that had virtually nothing to do with it are taking the praise. Guys like boring musician @johnlegend, and his filthy mouthed wife, are talking now about how great it is – but I didn’t see them around when we needed help getting it passed.”

In response, Teigen tweeted: “Lol what a p**** a** b****. tagged everyone but me. An honour, mister president.” 

The president’s public feuds are particularly problematic, says senior therapist Sally Baker, because his online vitriol endorses that of others. “Social media feuds are a top down phenomenon,” Baker tells The Independent. “When the US president behaves in this way, it gives license to everyone else to do so. That’s why we’re seeing it more and more.”

James Charles and Tati Westbrook

The dispute between beauty influencer James Charles and YouTuber Tati Westbrook became one of the most insidious in recent years given the gravity of accusations made between them.

The pair, who were previously best friends, began arguing in April when Charles publicly promoted a rival brand to Westbrook’s own line of beauty supplements.

Following the post, Westbrook, 37, published a clip on Instagram saying she felt “lost” and “betrayed” by an unnamed person and soon unfollowed the 19-year-old YouTuber on social media.

The controversy escalated further after Westbrook posted a 45-minute long video about the feud and went on to accuse Charles of “manipulating people’s sexuality” - she claimed the beauty influencer would boast about approaching straight men and then "cracking" their sexuality.

“This dispute was one of the most shocking in terms of power imbalances,” says Baker. “But it’s also a symbiotic relationship,” she adds, explaining that both parties benefited from taking their argument public because, not only did it make headlines, but it earned each of them millions of additional YouTube views and more followers on their respective channels.”

Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel

In 2013, the rapper and late night TV host got into a heated Twitter brawl after Jimmy Kimmel mocked Kanye West for calling himself the “number one rock star on the planet” in an interview with BBC Radio 1.

West responded with a series of tweets insulting Kimmel and people connected to him, like his ex-girlfriend, actor Sarah Silverman. Kimmel responded to some of the tweets, mocking West further, before West deleted everything he’d tweeted about Kimmel altogether. In a recent GQ interview, Kimmel said he was “so happy” about the feud, explaining: “I live for moments like that”.

“These two are bound to disagree because they have completely opposing political views,” comments Baker. “They are totally polarised but again their disagreement benefited both of them because it kept them in the headlines.”

Adam Levine and Lady Gaga

In 2013 after Maroon 5’s Adam Levine criticised an anonymous musical artist on Twitter, writing: “Ugh...recycling old art for a younger generation doesn’t make you an artist. It makes you an art teacher. I unabashedly love writing and performing pop music for both myself AND everyone around me. That’s It. It doesn’t need any extra sauce.”

Lady Gaga, who presumed the tweet was about her, replied: “Uh oh guys the art police is here”. Three days later, Levine wrote a tweet that seemed to be in response, writing: “By the way, I'm NOT an artist. I sing in a band and I make music with my friends.” Levine added: “While we’re at it we should call the grammar police,” referencing the fact that Gaga wrote “is” and not “are” in her earlier tweet.

Commenting on why the somewhat innocuous dispute received such a large amount of media coverage, Cook said that because both artists are such high profile people, “it might feel like a guilty pleasure to read about a feud between them” so there was an appetite for articles about it.

Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker

Sex and the City actors Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker have long been cited in discussions about celebrity feuds, with both actors having made comments alluding to a rift in previous interviews. But their row came to a head in 2018 after Jessica Parker left a supportive comment on one of Cattrall’s Instagram posts in which she revealed her brother had passed away. Days later, Cattrall replied with an eviscerating statement addressed to her former co-star, writing on Instagram: “I don’t need your love or support at this tragic time. Your continuous reaching out is a painful reminder of how cruel you really were then and now.”

“This rift was particularly newsworthy because fans of Sex and the City bought into the fiction that these two were close friends,” says Baker. “But if you listen to Cattrall, she has repeatedly said in interviews that her and Parker were never friends. They don’t like each other, why should they?”

Kim Kardashian West and Bette Midler

In 2016, Bette Midler criticised Kim Kardashian West for posting a nude selfie on social media. “If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera,” Midler wrote on Twitter. In a follow-up post, the Beaches star urged Kardashian West to put her platform to philanthropic use and encourage her millions of followers to donate to charity as opposed to posting photos of herself. 

The reality TV star responded to Midler in a tweet, writing: “hey @BetteMidler I know it’s past your bedtime but if you’re still up and reading this send nudes #justkidding.”

“This case was interesting because it was about a golden era celebrity taking on a contemporary celebrity,” comments Baker, explaining that Midler’s comments were intentionally inflammatory and hence garnered widespread media coverage.

Liam Gallagher and Noel Gallagher

The Oasis brothers have famously despised one another for years and often take their arguments online. 

The most recent exchange to make headlines was after Liam’s performance at Glastonbury Festival, when Liam was accused of sending “threatening messages” to Noel’s wife, Sara Macdonald, via his daughter Anaïs after Macdonald allegedly labelled him a fat “t***” on Instagram. On Twitter, Noel shared what appeared to be a screenshot of Liam’s message to the teen model, which read: “Tell your step Mam to be very careful”.

Liam quickly responded with a public apology on Twitter expressing his “sincere apologies” to “my lovely niece Anaïs for getting caught up in all of this childish behaviour”.

“This is a very relatable feud,” says Cook. “Everyone has fallen out with a sibling. But this being high profile relationship makes it fascinating to onlookers.”

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