Will Smith is the Angel of Death for Social Media Platforms
When the Fresh Prince hits your platform, you know you’ve made it — and jumped the shark
The 1977 episode of Happy Days “Hollywood: Part 3” is a cultural touchstone to most YouTube users (the episode alone is more than twice as old as YouTube itself), but the phrase it gave birth to may be better known among the young audience that logs onto the platform today.
In that episode, Henry Winkler’s character Fonzie jumped a jetski over a shark, and a meme was born. Shows that have become lackluster became known for “jumping the shark”; the phrase slipped into common parlance beyond TV.
We’re 42 years on from Fonzie jumping the shark. It’s a little jaded. We need a new phrase.
Can we suggest “something has been Will Smithed”?
Open up a social media platform these days and you can’t escape Will Smith. He’s there on TikTok, eight million people subscribed to his profile, most of the dozen or so videos he’s posted getting a minimum of a million views. He’s there on Instagram, with 40 million followers lapping up the behind-the-scenes snaps from film sets. And he’s there on YouTube, taking part in odd challenges and vlogging like he’s 1990s Fresh Prince Will Smith rather than 51-year-old father of three grown adults, multi-millionaire Will Smith.
He is omnipresent. He is omnipotent. He is impossible to avoid.
“The reasons are obvious” for Smith to embrace social media, reckons David Craig, a professor at USC Annenberg, the co-author of a series of books about social media entertainment, and a man who has previously spent time in Hollywood’s movie industry. “The social generation has no idea who Smith is, which is why they are not lining up for his movies any longer. However, Smith isn’t the first to attempt this. He is arguably the first to understand that joining a platform is not comparable to media PR.”