Are Hollywood A-Listers Finally Embracing Instagram?

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
As of today, Tom Cruise — Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Top Gun Tom Cruise — is on Instagram. The actor apparently joined it to promote yet another Mission: Impossible film. His first post featured a stunt for the sixth movie in which he had to ride on a helicopter, which is exactly what I imagined Cruise would find Instagrammable.
Earlier this month, Nicole Kidman joined Instagram, seemingly for the Golden Globes. At the same time, Natalie Portman joined Instagram. And, in December, Will Smith — Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Will Smith, Men in Black Will Smith — joined Instagram with the help of Ellen DeGeneres. With Cruise on the app, this is officially a trend. A-listers are flocking to Instagram, and, to be honest, it feels a little late. Instagram has been around since 2010; as of April 2017, the app had 700 million monthly users. Why now? Why this era? Why are the people I never thought I'd see on my feed suddenly on my feed, doing cute social media-ish things?
Kidman and Portman are obvious. Both joined just as the Time's Up movement made their mark on Hollywood. And the Time's Up movement has a sort of from-the-ground-up appeal. Though it was announced in the New York Times, many involved voiced their support via Instagram or Twitter. Without an Instagram account, being a vocal member of the initiative is a little harder.
Smith and Cruise have more elusive motives. For Cruise, my money's on an actor's biggest fear: irrelevance. Cruise's last three movies have been relative flops — The Mummy remake has a projected loss of $95 million, as per Deadline, and Cruise earned himself a Razzie nomination for his role. After several decades in the business, it's beginning to look like Cruise's appeal is fading. But! What if he joined Instagram? What if his fans suddenly got a glimpse into the day-to-day life of Jerry MaGuire? That would really be something. He also has a sixth Mission: Impossible movie coming out, which is a thing you'd know if you checked his Instagram!

Get ready. #MissionImpossible

A post shared by Tom Cruise (@tomcruise) on

For Smith, though, the effort seems like something to pass the time — which is why we all joined Instagram, right? (I mean, I joined Instagram so I could gaze upon the account Boys with Plants, but carry on.) Smith's Instagram presence actually harbors Smith-yness. He's all about the dad humor, and he's yet to share a sponsored post. Smith also, unbeknownst to me before today, has a vlog. Again, the effort seems genuine. On his vlog, Smith does things like explain where babies come from and give advice. Though the vlog appeared right around the time his movie Bright hit Netflix — suspicious timing there — Smith appears to glean true joy from both the vlogs and the Instagram.
Social media has been a demon for so long, it's hard to imagine why people suddenly want to join it. But maybe it's because Instagram is surpassing its adolescence. It's now a respectable way to commune with the public and share information. Whether you're promoting a movie or a movement, social media has a way to help. And, it might provide some joy along the way.
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