Disney Tweeted A Pinocchio Meme About Being “Dead Inside” & The Internet Went Nuts
In case you missed it, a Disney tweet about being “dead inside” went out from the official @Disney Twitter account on Sunday — and boy, did it cause a stir. The tweet has since been deleted, but it is far from forgotten; the internet is forever, after all, and people will not allow something as glorious as this to go gentle into that good night. (Bustle reached out to Disney for comment on the deleted tweet, and will update upon response.)
The text of the tweet was pretty innocuous; it simply read, “Makes no difference who you are” — a lyric from the classic Disney tune “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Given that this song was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington specifically for Disney’s 1940 animated adaptation of Pinocchio, it’s to be expected that the meme accompanying this tweet would be Pinocchio themed… but the actual tone of the meme was something else entirely. Featuring a GIF of the moment at the beginning of the movie when the Blue Fairy brings Pinocchio to life as a walking, talking puppet…
…It was captioned, “When someone compliments you, but you’re dead inside.”
Just… think about that for a minute.
Yeah. Dark, right?
The meme was branded with the Oh My Disney name — Oh My Disney being Disney’s official blog, featuring everything from BuzzFeed-style quizzes to news about the Disney parks, Disney’s media properties, and, well… basically, it’s All Disney, All The Time.
I bring this up because it would make sense for the tweet to have originally been pegged to Oh My Disney. After all, memes are a huge part of any news site or blog’s social media strategy. The thing is, while a meme like this would have been on-brand for, say, the social media feed of a site aimed specifically at millennials, it was a little… strange coming from a company that celebrates childhood. But for many, it actually resonated.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that the group for whom the meme did resonate consisted mainly of Twitter users in the millennial and Gen Z pool. We straddle two extremely specific demographics: People who use dark humor to cope with things, and people who grew up during the Disney Renaissance. Indeed, in a 2017 piece published by the Washington Post, writer Elizabeth Bruenig made the argument that the reason millennial humor is so dang weird is because we have so many reasons to “[doubt] the essential meaningfulness of the world.” Wrote Bruenig, “Long-lasting careers seem out of reach; millennials are told to go to college so they can make money, but mostly they just amass debt and then job-hop in hopes of paying it off. In the meantime, they put off getting married, having kids, buying houses and so on. And waiting feels like — well, waiting.” And one of the ways we cope is through weird, dark, sometimes nihilistic humor.
Guess what happens when you combine that coping strategy with a pervasive sense of nostalgia? Yep: An intense appreciation for memes about being “dead inside” starring Pinocchio.
A little less than a day, though, the tweet featuring the meme was removed.
The tweet in question was originally located here. It’s no longer viewable directly from that URL, of course — that’s, y’know, what it means when you delete a tweet — but the good news is that since we still know what the URL actually was… we can go searching for its legacy.
My first move whenever I find a link that no longer works is always to run it through the Wayback Machine to see if it got archived before it went offline — and in this case, it most definitely was: 10 different snapshots of the “Dead Inside” tweet are currently viewable via the Wayback Machine, all of which were taken across Sunday and Monday before the tweet was removed. Regrettably, you can’t really experience the full glory of the meme through these snapshots because the GIF isn’t properly animated in them; however, you can still get the general idea, as well as proof that the tweet existed in the first place. Here’s one of those snapshots:
The other thing we can do with the URL, even if it isn’t live anymore, is search Twitter for it to see how people reacted to the original meme. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that those reactions are gold. Here’s a small selection of the variety of responses the tweet received:
1. Is Disney OK?
This was one of the most prevalent responses; many, many variations on, "Are you OK, Disney?" flood Twitter in the aftermath of the tweet. And, I mean... that's fair.
2. Nihilism, Disney-Style
For when you gaze into the magic, the magic also gazes into you.
5. We're Here For You...
If Disney movies have taught us nothing else, it's that kindness and a sympathetic ear can do a world of good. We're here for you if you need us.
6. ...But We're Still Kind Of Surprised
I definitely did a double-take the first time I saw the tweet, and I am positive I am not the only one.
12. A Case Of Mistaken Identity
They wouldn't be the first to commit that error.
13. MY BRAND
Honestly? Even if the “Dead Inside” meme was pretty dark, especially coming from Disney, it spoke to me deep in my soul — which is exactly what a good meme is supposed to do, right? Memes tend to get at fundamental truths about the world we live in or the human experience, so in that respect, I’d argue that the “Dead Inside” meme was incredibly successful. I, for one, appreciated it immensely.
More of that, please!