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Barbra Streisand and the Narcissism of Instagram: On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever #nofilter

By Jose Gallegos | /Bent August 14, 2014 at 11:52AM

Last Wednesday, thousands of gay men (and straight women) woke up to an exciting tidbit of news: Barbra Streisand joined Instagram.
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Babs Instagram

Last Wednesday, thousands of gay men (and straight women) woke up to an exciting tidbit of news: Barbra Streisand joined Instagram. She, or should I say her publicist (unless Streisand enjoys writing in the third person) took to Twitter to announce the new social media account of the multi-talented artist: “Big news... Barbra has joined @instagram! See her first post here.


Her first Instagram photo was everything that one could hope for: Streisand and her Coton de Tulear, Samantha, were sprawled across the unbelievably white cushion of a black wicker chair. The caption reads, “Hello Instagram…isn’t my Samantha just precious?” to which one can only respond, “Yes Babs, she’s the cutest thing on this planet!” Unlike most Instagram photos, which are taken with phones and filtered to look more aesthetically pleasing, Streisand’s image was clearly the result of a photo shoot. If the unnatural light or the lens’ focus on Babs didn’t give it away, then Streisand’s heavily Photoshopped face was the biggest tell-tale sign. This playfulness with artificiality is what I, along with millions of queer fans, have come to adore about Streisand. She has constructed a career on manicured nails, giant sweaters, flattering light, and carefully calculated camera angles, which is why her first photo is a fitting introduction to the narcissistic app.

Unfortunately, Streisand’s posts have been few and far between. She managed to get in the clichéd food post (a tray of beautifully crafted cupcakes with the caption “Cupcakes…not on my diet…and too pretty to eat!”) before she revealed her true motive behind joining the popular social media app: promoting of her new duet album, “Partners.” Her first Instagram photo was used as the album cover, though Samantha would be cropped and replaced with a pastel green border. Streisand’s name (as always) would be the prominent fixture on the cover while her collaborators were written in a smaller font. She even created the trending topic “#BarbraPartners, “ which she used for her next post (a video of Michael Bublé talking about Streisand’s powerful voice and masterful storytelling abilities).

To say that I felt duped would be misinformation. I did not expect that Streisand’s Instagram account would be used as a marketing tactic, but at the same time, I wasn’t that surprised. Streisand has made no qualms about putting the spotlight on herself, whether it is through her singing career or her directorial efforts (Yentl and The Mirror Has Two Faces are vehicles used to show how talented Streisand is at everything). She is a diva who knows how to make the light fall gracefully on her face (even if that means Samantha gets cast in the shadows). I secretly hope that Streisand posts more photos of herself in and around her stately mansion, just as long as Samantha is always in tow, gets to eat one of those “pretty” cupcakes, and is listed as a #BarbraPartners on her upcoming album.