Here's another reason to love Alicia Keys: she's cleverly using the power of social media to raise money on World AIDS Day.
Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and Usher are among the celebrities who have pledged to stop using Twitter, Facebook and the like beginning Wednesday until $1 million is collected for Keys’ Keep a Child Alive charity. The obvious opportunities for jokes aside (Stephen Colbert quipped, "Just stop at $999,999 – that way we'll have the best of both worlds"), we admire her using the silly obsession with celebrities using social media to do some good.
The gimmick also got us thinking about another way to generate even more funds for the worthy cause: Get folks to donate money to keep serial tweeter Kanye Westoff Twitter.
West's Twitter feed, which has 1.7 million followers, represents what New York magazine last week aptly called "extreme stream of consciousness." The magazine printed 118 days worth of the rapper's tweets as part of an article headlined, "Demented Genius."
If there's such a thing as Twitter abuse, West fits the bill, seemingly letting no thought go untweeted.
"I've finally realized as long as you use profanity when you talk about art and fashion it's better accepted!!!" he noted recently.
The profane follow up: "Like yo this Mark Rothko is the s---! You see it works. This is a break through people. I now know how to communicate art! YES!!!!"
It's more than art – West's tweets somehow make news, such as his rant last month after the "Today" show dared to replay the infamous footage of him interrupting Taylor Swift during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Still, he was sure to reassure us in a tweet, "I don't hate Matt Lauer.”
It's a sign of the pop cultural times when an entertainer, whose ramblings somehow have managed to draw the ire of our two most recent presidents, can command so much attention with 140-character bursts of wackiness.
West's tweets also have spurred some humor – "Interrupting Kanye" became an Internet meme after the Swift incident, sparking funny tweets and pictures.
Even better is the Kanye Jordan Twitter feed, which takes West's tweets and adds the words “Liz Lemon” to make them sound like the hilarious nonsense spouted by Tracy Morgan's Tracy Jordan character on "30 Rock" ("Liz Lemon, Why Halloween bring out girls inner hoe... I was sposed to type freak but I just typed what I really meant instead. LOL").
But we’re most enamored of the mash-up of West tweets and New Yorker cartoons (one where one dog says to another, "Fur pillows are hard to actually sleep on" probably could have slipped past the magazine’s editors).
On second thought, maybe West’s tweets do serve a purpose – they’re a form of entertainment, even if the humor is largely unintentional on his part.
Without West on Twitter, we wouldn’t have this new NSFW video on Funny or Die with the says-it-all title, “Grandma Reads Kanye's Tweets” (“Never do coke with an intern... they may not be 21 LOL," Grandma/Kanye wisely advises).
So whatever you think about celebrities tweeting, check out Keys’ charity – and listen to Grandma:
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.