I Think About This a Lot is a series dedicated to private memes: images, videos, and other random trivia we are doomed to play forever on loop in our minds.
On January 28, 2014, Vin Diesel posted a video to his Facebook page captioned, “You know I love music …”
It begins with the actor, then 46, pacing around what appears to be his bedroom. The opening bars of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” play from his computer, and within a few seconds, he’s leaning in close to the camera and mouthing the words. But just when you think this is going to be another Vin Diesel karaoke video, you realize he doesn’t actually know the lyrics.
Maybe Diesel, a former breakdancer, has some dance moves he wants to show us? Again, no. All he does is bop along clumsily, moving his large body in a way Gawker would later compare to “a toddler with a full diaper.”
Around the three-minute mark, Diesel breaks the tension by telling us his latest film, Riddick, was “No. 1 in the DVD charts.” That’s what this is, you sigh. He was building up to the massive news that his DVD was selling well. Right?
Well, this doesn’t make sense either. Having a No. 1-selling DVD is unspectacular news today, but it was just as trivial in 2014. There’s also evidence Diesel wasn’t talking about the U.S. charts, but the U.K.’s, which — apologies to U.K. DVD rankings — feels even more inconsequential.
As the chorus of “Dark Horse” begins to swell around the four-minute mark, Diesel trails off the topic of DVD sales and the beat takes him once more. It goes on like this for another three-and-a-half minutes. There are strange cuts, a short ramble about the Grammys, and an attempt to dance to Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” that I don’t even know how to unpack.
Then it ends.
If you watched the whole thing hoping for some sort of conclusion, there isn’t one. Vin Diesel told you he loves music, and that’s all you get: seven-and-a-half minutes of Vin Diesel loving music.
To people familiar with the proto-meme fan art that sometimes showed up on Diesel’s Facebook page, the inherent oddness on display wasn’t surprising. To the general public, however, the news that one of Hollywood’s most bankable action stars was actually kind of weird was earth-shattering. It sparked more coverage than any other Vin Diesel–related story that year, and Katy Perry felt the need to issue an official response. (“YES VIN DIESEL,” she tweeted.)
Imagine Vin Diesel posted this video on TikTok today. Would it confuse people? Probably. But no one would wonder why he chose TikTok to reveal his bashful-uncle-at-a-wedding-style dance moves to the world. Take away his celebrity, and he’d fit in perfectly with the other middle-aged bald guys you see when you venture past the smiling teens on TikTok’s carefully curated front page. I can’t help but wonder if Diesel had an eerily prescient sense of how the internet was about to change. (Though it’s worth noting that TikTok’s success has something to do with the brevity of its videos, and Diesel’s was anything but brief). This wouldn’t be the first time the actor was ahead of the curve on a social-media phenomenon.
In January 2014, Diesel’s personal Facebook page, which he called “Vinbook,” had 63 million likes. It wasn’t just one of the most-liked celebrity pages in the world, it was one of the most-liked pages. Period. That’s more likes than Beyoncé had then or now. More likes than Disney and Nike combined. His page had more likes than the very medium of music. Or, to be more precise, that thing we all know Vin Diesel loves.
According to Diesel, his huge audience was the result of him using social media to interact with fans before anyone else. “When I jumped on that page in April 2009, I started talking to people. In the realest ways,” he bragged to EW in 2013. “Imagine if you could’ve been a Facebook friend to Marlon Brando, or whoever your role models are. That was the Fast & Furious experience … [Facebook] didn’t see this coming.”
Facebook certainly did see it coming, but there’s no denying some prescience on Diesel’s part too. “Facebook used to ask me to come up to their office to explain what the fuck I was doing, and why I had so many fans,” he continued. “Facebook really owes me billions of dollars.”
Like all of us, Vin Diesel is less active on Facebook today, but from time to time he’ll post another oddly cryptic video of himself in a tank top, talking on and on with no clear point. Laugh at whatever he’s doing, if you must, but don’t be surprised if all the kids start doing it soon.