Vin Diesel chatted with Entertainment Weekly about the “Fast and the Furious” movies and “Riddick” and other things, and because he’s Vin Diesel he said some amazingly modest stuff about how Facebook became FACEBOOk because Vin Diesel used the site to talk to his fans. (I’m going to excerpt this at length, but again, you can read more over at Entertainment Weekly.)
So! Vin Diesel is the star of the “Fast and Furious” movies. He also has a lot of Facebook fans. Let’s dive in:
You’ve developed a big following on Facebook. What do you attribute that to?
Did you ever see the movie Social Network? Do you remember what they said the reason was to make Facebook?
To meet girls?
YOU GOT IT!
Let’s pause and appreciate Vin Diesel shouting “YOU GOT IT!” at the interviewer while discussing “The Social Network.”
And when they made the movie, nobody had a million fans. They were promoting it, like, “We came up with a new way for people to check marital status.” That’s not what Facebook was. That’s not why Facebook would be successful. No one gives a s— about people’s marital status. That’s as dated as MySpace!
Vin Diesel may not know this because he is a big movie star who uses Facebook as a way to engage with the millions of people who pay to see him in “Fast and Furious” movies and nothing else, but there are people out there who are not big movie stars who spend their time making “Fast and Furious” movies. There are people out there who are just normal folks working their jobs and checking Facebook to kill time and, very often, perhaps not all of the time but at least some amount of the time, using it to see if someone they like is already in a relationship or what the deal is there. For a lot of people, Facebook wasn’t about individual relationship statuses, but for at least some folks, it was one of the things they would find on the site. But dope MySpace reference.
What Facebook didn’t realize is something very big was about to happen
Hang on, I want to pause and savor this moment where Vin Diesel, star of “The Pacifier” and “XXX,” is recalling that time he was onto something big regarding social networks, something so huge the Facebook people didn’t even realize was about to happen. Okay, back to his recollection:
What Facebook didn’t realize is something very big was about to happen, and that was — for the first time in history, and it’s kind of a fluke they didn’t see this coming — when I jumped on that page in April 2009, I started talking to people. In the realest ways. Imagine if you could’ve been a Facebook friend to Marlon Brando, or whoever your role models are. Imagine, if you were able to Facebook Elvis, and talk to him, and hear from him without the Hollywood of it all. That was the Fast & Furious experience.
Just imagine Facebook friending Marlon Brando or Elvis and talking with them, multiply that by about 10,000 million, slap some NOS onto that and maybe you’ll have the tiniest inkling of what it was like to hear from Vin Diesel when he joined Facebook. It was Brando plus Elvis times infinity.
And he wasn’t just talking. He was talking in the realest ways. I mention this because he had just snarked on MySpace, and one of the big things about MySpace when it had its brief moment in the sun was that celebrities could use it to directly interact with fans. But sure, the first time in history, realest ways, 2 Brando 2 Furious, please continue.
So, when I had started my page, the only person that had a million fans was Barack Obama. Because it was first-quarter 2009, and he’d just got elected as President, because of social media. So, when I started talking to the fans, I became the No. 1 page in the world. Over Coca-Cola, over huge companies. And it was only because I said: “Hi, guys, I love you.”
Hi guys, Vin Diesel loves you.
Look, Diesel is obviously big on Facebook. (That’s how the kids talk: “Big on Facebook,” they say, in between Snapchats and twerking and watching “NCIS,” probably.) He has 41 million likes! That’s a lot of likes, even if a “like” is a really arbitrary metric and we’re not going to sit here pretending that likes, follows or anything of that vein are actually meaningful numbers in any sense of the word. (Also, according to his Facebook page, Vin Diesel was born on Nov. 30, 1999. So he must be excited to be 13 years old, finally old enough to see a “Fast and Furious” movie. Congratulations to Vin Diesel!)
Vin Diesel, circa 2009, was…not a big star. People still remembered him from “The Fast and the Furious” and “XXX” (god, remember “XXX”?) and maybe “Boiler Room” and, if you had young children, perhaps “The Pacifier.” But he was not really a movie star, and then came “Fast and Furious” in 2009, which was a big hit, and “Fast Five” in 2011, which was a massive, monstrous hit.
My point is that when Vin Diesel says he started using Facebook in April 2009, it already had 200 million users. There was a high-profile movie about the company’s origins in the works. Obviously the number of users has skyrocketed since then, but do we really think it’s because Vin Diesel posts hilarious or adorable stuff on his wall? Sure! That must be why 1.1 billion people use the site each month. For Vin Diesel.
Facebook used to ask me to come up to their office to explain what the f— I was doing, and why I had so many fans. What was unique was: I never let anyone do a post, I never let anyone post for me in the last four years. My audience knows me so well on the page that if my producing partner’s in the room when I post, they’ll know somebody was around me. That’s kind of cool, that’s how sophisticated they are.
Vin Diesel is a brand, but that’s fine. All of the major stars in sports, entertainment, whatever, they’re all Brands when you boil it down. They’re all people finessing and promoting and fine-tuning Jonah Hill Inc. or whatever the hell you want to call it, and for many of them that involves using social media to engage the rabble, just like Coca-Cola and Nike and whatever else. As long as he has a certain degree of self-awareness, and as long as he realizes that he’s just the star of a long-running movie franchise who happened to be the first movie star to use Facebook in this way, and that ultimately he’s just someone using a marketing tool to promote himself and his work, that’s really not too objectionable. Anything else, Vin?
Facebook really owes me billions of dollars. But whatever. [Laughs]
Billions! I didn’t hear the tone he used, but I am going to assume he was being self-deprecating and in no way half-serious in that “Ha ha I think they should give me money, ha ha I am not kidding as you can tell from my forced chuckling!” way. Because what kind of person would say that seriously?
Oh. That’s right.