Ever since celebrities have had access to social media, traditional media outlets have been playing catch-up. The clapback—fka the comeback, or the fine art of one-upping someone—now rules the narrative of celebrity journalism. Everyone knows that the fastest way for a star to kill a story they don’t want to see is to steal the spotlight: either by outright denying, providing their own perspective, or simply creating a totally new story. In 2015, they could do that in seconds—and with #nofilter—thanks to the power of self-publishing. Sometimes it was empowering to see: female stars could let their followers in on the secrets of the media’s distorted imagery, and put the men who objectify them in their place. Other times, it was more about brand management and putting rumors to rest (or, in some cases, thrillingly fanning the flames).
Either way, the social media clapback is a phenomenon that’s still so new and so delicious—that shock feeling of getting a peek behind the celebrity curtain hasn’t lost its novelty yet—that it keeps on going viral. Here are nine times celebrities flexed the power of the clapback online this year and sent headlines spinning in their wake.
Billfold editor Ester Bloom speculated that Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams could have replaced Jon Stewart as host if it weren’t for her own “humility” holding her back. Williams was not impressed.