A perfect B-list movie, a Thursday night with no urgent news, Tara Reid, Ian Ziering, a possible Mia Farrow-Philip Roth romance, and one shark-infested tornado all came together in a perfect storm that swept the country last night. The only thing people cared about on a balmy July night was Sharknado, and to show it, they tweeted, searched and sent their thoughts on the SyFy movie into the faceless void of the Internet. If you somehow missed the phenomenon and are wondering if Sharknado was actually any good, know that it does not matter that this movie was terrible, and featured lines like: "We’ll stand and fight. We can’t just wait for sharks to rain down on us."
It is impossible to talk about Sharknado without discussing the social media frenzy it started. Here's what the mentions of Sharknado looked like on Twitter last night—notice that the meltdown started at 9 p.m., when Sharknado began playing (statistics come from social media insight site Topsy):
It sort of looks like a dorsal fin, no? But, seriously, look at that spike. The numbers rival those of the presidential debates last year. People weren't just tweeting about Sharknado, they were also searching for the word "Sharknado," according to Google Trends:
And perhaps a sign that a cultural nadir/apex (depending on how you look at it) is upon us, here is Ian Ziering tweeting out a photo of how Sharknado invaded the digital front page of one of the most respected newspapers in America alongside Trayvon Martin and Nelson Mandela:
So, yes, people were talking about this terrible SyFy movie. And its success on the social media front will be examined for the way Sharknado cleverly got people more interested in being part of the joke than the movie itself.
And if you look at how the tweets sharply dropped off after the final scene (which involves Steve Sanders, chainsaw in hand, jumping into the mouth of giant shark and then cutting his way out of its gut and pulling a character we thought was already...I give up) , you could infer that the jokes didn't really have any clout to them without the live event.
The only thing left in the wreckage of the Sharknado was Mia Farrow's epic trolling of the Internet, insinuating she and Philip Roth were dating, or at least watching Sharknado together. (Take a deep breath—it was actually an old photo.)