How An Inspiring Old Dustin Hoffman Video Blew Up On The Internet This Week

dustin Hoffman

Yesterday, Dustin Hoffman took over the Internet. He was on every news outlet from Business Insider, The Huffington Post and Upworthy to The Washington Post, Hollywood Reporter and NBC.

It’s surprising because Hoffman isn’t exactly A-list Hollywood anymore. He also hasn’t done anything new or noteworthy.

The reason he went viral yesterday is because of a 24-year-old movie he starred in, Tootsie, and a post-interview he did with the American Film Institute (AFI). AFI posted the clip on YouTube on December 17, 2012.

So why yesterday did the clip finally explode?

We traced it back. It all starts one month ago, on a tiny Tumblr blog…

One month ago, a Tumblr called ABoysBestFriendIsHisMother did what it often does. It broke out a movie into a series of gifs overwritten with text. He's done it for Batman and even 13 Going on 30. But last month, he decided to do it with Dennis Hoffman and his old 1989 movie, Tootsie.

The video he took the GIFs from was posted by AFI on December 17, 2012. Yesterday afternoon it had 670,000 views. This morning it has nearly 3 million.

If you haven't watched the clip, you can watch it below. Basically, Dustin Hoffman says he was mean to unattractive women prior to his role in Tootsie. When he realised he couldn't be transformed into an attractive woman, he cried and realised he had been superficial and cruel to others.

Soon, ABoysBestFriendIsHisMother's GIFs spread all over Tumblr. In early July, it started getting reblogged pretty heavily. It now has 41,000 notes, many of which are reblogs (i.e. other people reposting the content on their own Tumblr blogs).

Virgil Cane, for example, reblogged it on Monday, July 1.

Then a Tumblr blog called Valar Morghulis shared it on July 2.

After scrolling back through 3,000 relevant tweets on Storify, the first we could find that mentioned Dustin Hoffman and Tootsie was on Wednesday July 3. So even Twitter was late to the Dustin Game, but it still beat mainstream blogs.

By Friday July 5 Dustin Hoffman was being shared on social media sites from numerous Tumblr blogs, all originating from ABoysBestFriendIsHisMother.

It's worth noting that Dustin Hoffman recently made his directorial debut in The Quartet and was on NPR discussing it in a re-published interview on July 5. That interview generated a little buzz which helped Dustin's Tootsie hype.

Then along came The Mary Sue. On Saturday July 6, one of its writers plucked Dustin Hoffman's Tootsie interview from Tumblr and gave it a provocative headline. She didn't post ABoysBestFriendIsHisMother's GIFs, but she did give the Tumblr blog sourcing credit. Notice how this post has 70,000 Facebook likes and more than 1,500 tweets.

By Monday Dustin and Tootsie were old news on Tumblr, but it still hadn't gone very mainstream.

Upworthy's Facebook followers glommed onto it. It now has 15,800 likes, 1,300 comments and more than 11,000 shares.

The Huffington Post also found The Mary Sue's post on Dustin Hoffman and reblogged it on Monday, July 8.

On July 9, the Dustin Hoffman Tootsie clip exploded into the mainstream Internet. It was published on everything from Business Insider to Time to The Guardian to Mashable to NBC to Hollywood Reporter to The Washington Post.

And it all started here. On this creative little Tumblr blog.

Now check out some bad things that happen on social media sites:

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