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Bill Murray: Effortless Internet Icon

How the famous funny man became a web superstar without even trying.

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Bill Murray: Effortless Internet Icon

Image courtesy: Daily Picks and Flicks

Bill Murray, the deadpan comedic actor who has been entertaining us since hitting the Saturday Night Live stage in 1975, has managed to become a new media superstar, but not in the usual ways. Unlike his contemporary, Steve Martin, Murray does not have an official Twitter or Facebook page on which he interacts with fans, yet he has remained not only relevant in today’s e-centric world, but he has become more popular among young people than ever before.

Mr. Popular

As a testament to how popular Murray is, and how much his fans, old and new, crave interaction with the enigmatic star, think about the fact that in 2012 a fake (but convincing) Bill Murray account popped up on Twitter. Overnight, more than 150,000 people followed the account before it was revealed to be a fake. Eventually Twitter took the page down, and fans were upset to learn that they did not, in fact, have a new way to correspond with the Ghostbusters and Caddyshack celeb who has starred in some of our favorite funny movies of the past few decades.

Facebook or Twitter: Too Mainstream.

Though Murray refuses to join the social sites which have traditionally been a conduit for fan interaction, he has found new and more interesting ways to interact with his fans. Murray has taken to crashing parties, for instance, or randomly showing up to play kickball and pose for pictures on a sunny Sunday in New York City. He has been spotted jumping behind the bar in Austin, TX to pour drinks for the locals. He escorted a young woman to a dance in Scotland. He has been busted driving golf carts pretty much everywhere.

”Nobody's Going To Believe You.”

There are so many Bill Murray fan encounters circulating online, it’s impossible to tell which are real and which are fake. One of the most famous encounters has been an internet staple for a few years; a young man claims that he was eating in a Wendy’s restaurant when Murray walked over to him, took a fry from his tray, and said to him, “Nobody's going to believe you.” He then walked away as if nothing had happened. Inspired by this story, there is a whole website devoted to similar Murray run-ins, though many of the tales on Bill Murray Stories are wishful fan fabrications.

Elusive, Yet Omnipresent

As an actor, Murray has been notoriously hard to reach for years. In 2004, while accepting a Best Actor Golden Globe award for his spectacularly understated performance in Lost In Translation, Murray famously intoned, “You can all relax; I fired my agents a couple of months ago.” It’s true; one of Hollywood’s most famous actors currently operates with no agent and no manager. If a movie maker wants Bill Murray to appear in his or her film, they must leave a message on his 1-800 phone line, which he may or may not listen to. Even if Murray does agree to be in your movie, he operates on his own time schedule and disappears when the mood strikes him. Yet, the actor seems to pop up just about everywhere, when you’re least expecting to see him.

Making Social Media Look Easy

Bill Murray proves that there is more than one way to become an internet hero, even if, like Murray, you don’t really care whether you are relevant to new media users at all. The way he interacts with his fans is effortless, and he seems to just do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. He is genuinely having fun with his fame, and using his legendarily dry wit and enduring sense of humor to reach a whole new level of popularity with internet users. Without setting a virtual foot onto the traditional social media pages, Murray has new legions of fans creating Murray mash-up videos and writing stories about meetings that may or may not have ever occurred.

Bill Murray has always been cool, but now that he’s becoming a web phenomenon without even trying, he has moved beyond “awesome” to “icon.”

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