Some recent posts on actress Roseanne Barr's MySpace page created a minor stir in the world of celebrity gossip. While extolling the virtues of spam and cursing George Bush, the messages seemed to indicate that Barr was drunk out of her mind while writing them.
"i need to stop drinking, but i do not wish to ... i am in Hawaii on the beach drunk," read one message. Another said, "when you are old, you pee your pants more it seems."
It appeared to be an open-and-shut case of BUI (blogging under the influence), but now Barr has posted a message on her official Web site (www.roseanneworld.com) denying that she wrote those MySpace rants. Instead, she says an intern, who has since been fired, hacked into her MySpace page to post them.
And in a bizarre follow-up message on her Web site, Barr claimed the same intern has also stolen a sex tape from her, and she is willing to pay $25,000 for its return. "Unless someone would like to distribute it — then I am willing to deal," she added.
Barr also said that celebrity blogger Perez Hilton knows who took the sex tape — an allegation he denied.
"I think she's being funny," Hilton said. "I hope there's no sex tape! Or maybe I do, I don't know."
Hilton finds the whole intern story suspicious. "Does Roseanne even have an intern?" he said. "I mean, who interns for Roseanne?"
An e-mail message to Barr's Web site was not returned.
Whatever the truth, Barr's online messages highlight both the dangers of blogging under the influence and the complicated world of celebrity blogs.
Write Drunk, Edit Sober
Mark Twain said to "write when drunk, but edit while sober."
On the Internet, editing can seem like a quaint relic of the past.
And it doesn't help that blogging under the influence is so darn easy. You can do it anywhere, anytime — at home, alone in your underwear, clutching a bottle of vodka.
Lowered inhibitions, plus an inflated sense of importance, usually equals terrible and embarrassing prose.
"I think blogging while drunk is like drunk dialing — it's there, you can't help yourself," said Molly Goodson, who writes for the blog PopSugar.
But, as Hilton points out, "The thing about the Internet is once it's out there, you can't take it back."
Those controversial messages have been removed from Barr's MySpace page, but they still exist out there on Hilton's Web site and others.
The ramblings and rantings of other celebrities — sometimes at each other — are also immortalized on the Internet.
Though she doesn't cop to BUI, Courtney Love's grammatically tortured, stream-of-consciousness postings are a favorite of many gossip hounds and fans, especially those who keep up with her plastic surgery.
The young British singer Lily Allen also gets a lot of attention for her candid blog — where she has complained about being too fat, depressed and drinking too much. She also dishes on other stars. In a recent MySpace post about Love, Allen wrote, "One night with her made me realize why Kurt [Cobain] killed himself. I nearly checked into rehab."
Like Barr, Allen later claimed someone hacked into her MySpace page and posted the disparaging remarks. Love, on her MySpace page, generously forgave the 22-year-old Allen.
Knowing the Rules of the Game
So, why would celebrities, who generally work so hard to control their images open themselves up to such scrutiny and possible ridicule?
Blogging entices celebrities because it's an easy way to get publicity, and a way to shape their own image, said Lisa Timmons, a blogger with A Socialite's Life.
Timmons said Pam Anderson is one celebrity who uses her blog to her advantage by revealing just enough to establish an "intimacy" with fans without getting too close.
"She knows the rules and boundaries," Timmons said. "She will go on to her blog to refute things in tabloids. It's a pre-emptive way of preventing PR damage. If you have an established voice with fans, you can communicate with them."
On the other hand, Timmons said, Britney Spears has not mastered the fine art of celebrity blogging. Her attempts to "get real" with fans often result in messages that make no sense, sound like outright lies, or sometimes just make people say "ick."
"She's tried to do that, but she's just looked like someone spinning out of control," Timmons said. "She didn't know what was appropriate to post."
So, where does Barr fall on the spectrum? Did she cross a blogging boundary and now has to back pedal, or is she engaging in some savvy self-promotion?
"We'll have to see what happens," said Goodson. "But this is also the first time I've talked about Roseanne in a very long time."