Did you watch any of Weird Al’s new music videos? Everyone loves a positive celebrity comeback, and social media has been responsible for a good many in the last few years— including the recent surge of that parody musician. Twitter and Facebook accomplished what agents couldn’t for many stars of the 80s and 90s: getting them back in the public eye and connecting them with long lost fans.
Here are 7 celebrity comebacks fueled by social media that have positively contributed to happiness on the internet:
Weird Al Yankovic
Until about two weeks ago, Weird Al was a distant memory of “Amish Paradise” and “White and Nerdy” for most people. The frizzy haired parody artist has popped in and out of the limelight over the last two decades, but the last 5 or 6 years were definitely more of a valley than a peak.
Then earlier this month Weird Al embarked on a social media and internet campaign to promote his new album Mandatory Fun. To do so he release 8 music videos in 8 days with website partners like Funny or Die and VEVO and participated in a reddit AMA. The promotion helped Weird Al earn his first ever Billboard #1 album.
From 1993 to 1998, kids across North America were secretly taught science by a crafty and entertaining television host known as Bill Nye the Science Guy. While Nye continued to create and host several science based program in the years that followed, for many people his memory remained a distant flash of a blue lab coat and a bow tie. Until he took to social media.
The scientist now has over 1.5 million followers on Twitter, where he shares scientific news and promotes his own activities. He has also participated in reddit AMA sessions, and took part in a debate on Evolution vs. Creation with creationist Ken Ham that was live streamed on YouTube. The scientist has become a social media scientist, and has earned his place back in the spotlight.
One of the biggest social media success stories out there, George Takei is now known to a generation of kids more for his Facebook exploits than for his role as Sulu on Star Trek. Takei has earned over 7.3 million likes on his Facebook page by sharing and commenting on funny videos, images and tidbits of pop culture. He is an absolute expert and engaging a Facebook fan base, with media organizations like Forbes and Mashable turning to him for tips and tricks to share with readers.
From Who’s the Boss and Charmed to Twitter fame? That’s the story of Alyssa Milano. After decades spent on television shows, Milano became a passionate activist and saw social media as a great opportunity to support her causes. Even after being out of the television limelight since 2006, Milano was able to attract over 2.7 million followers to her Twitter account. And like any good social media manager, she doesn’t only use social media for activism, but shares entertaining and shareable content as well. Heck, she even shared our Dr. Seuss Guide to Twitter!
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) March 3, 2014
From 1987 to 1990, Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and was generally despised by Trekkies as an annoying character. Today, Wheaton is well-loved by much of the Internet, and that shift can in large part be attributed to his use of blogs and social media. Wheaton has very popular Tumblr and Twitter accounts that he actually maintains and uses to engage with fans and speak his mind. He is so much in the know about social media that he wrote a now-famous rant about Google+ forcing him to get an account in order to use YouTube: “Oh, go f*** yourself, Google. This is just as bad as companies forcing me to “like” something on Facebook before I can view whatever it is they want me to ‘like,’” he wrote. “Just let me thumbs up something, without forcing me to “upgrade” to G+, you ****heads.” He didn’t mince words, and over 1.4 million Google+ users circled him in response. How’s that for a comeback?
There seems to be a Star Trek theme within this post, but Levar Burton’s comeback had more to do with his hosting of Reading Rainbow than his role as Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Burton has over 1.8 million Twitter followers and is another one of the reddit AMA crowd, where he undertook a Q&A that was full of nostalgic childhood stories about Reading Rainbow. That AMA was smartly timed, as soon after Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Reading Rainbow, which was cancelled in 2006, to a new generation of kids as a web series. Burton absolutely destroyed his fundraising goal of $1 million, beating the record for most donors with over 105,000 and earning upwards of $5.4 million in contributions.
Can you hum the tune to “Goodbye My Lover”? Do you know all the words to “You’re Beautiful”? Unfortunately, those two tracks seem to have been the peak of James Blunt’s musical career. The musician hasn’t had the same kind of success in his subsequent 3 albums, and isn’t really on anybody’s musical radar right now. That said, James Blunt is amazing on Twitter.
Zach Braff is another star you couldn’t really say needed a comeback. But after 10 seasons of Scrubs came to an end in 2010, six years after his successful film Garden State, Braff didn’t really have much else to his name.
But Braff has been active on social media these past four years. He’s managed to amass over 1.4 million followers on Twitter and that’s almost entirely due to his close friendship with Scrubs co-star Donald Faison. Braff constantly insults and publicly messages Faison, to the delight of the shows longtime fans. He also has fun engaging with regular people, and insulting the trolls that insult him. In short, Twitter gave him a platform on which to be funny when he wasn’t being funny on the big or small screen. And now it’s paying off. Braff is currently using his social influence to promote his brand new movie, Wish I Was Here.
Did we miss any good comebacks? Let us know in the comments below.
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