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Can the King of Twitter Play the King of Apple?: Social Media Sentiment on Ashton Kutcher Portraying Steve Jobs

Ashton Kutcher Cast as Steve Jobs. 

That’s like casting Adam Sandler as the Pope. Or John Wayne as Genghis Khan. Or even Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan. Oh wait…those last two actually happened!

What initially seemed like an April Fools’ Day prank, or part of the return of Kutcher’s MTV show, “Punk’d,” turns out to be a legitimate announcement: The “Two and a Half Men” star will play the late tech mogul in an upcoming indie film.

Unsurprisingly, this bit of casting caused quite a bit of commotion among hardcore followers of Apple – not to mention among employees here at Sterling, since we’re an all-Mac shop and include a number of Apple acolytes on staff.

The social media universe similarly did not hold back on their opinions of Sunday’s casting announcement. Using a social analytics solution from our client Attensity, I pulled the most common words across social media related to the casting choice and found a great deal of negative sentiment.

Accordingly, the sentiment dashboard did not fare much better for Kutcher…

…nor did the poll I ran and posted on Facebook and Twitter using the new version of the free Mumbo app (also a client of ours).

This makes me think how casting decisions for major roles should automatically include crowd-sourcing so that directors ensure they are using an actor who will pull in an audience rather than repel it. That said, what does that mean for actors? How will the lesser-known ones compete? Perhaps an American Idol-type contest could exist where actors both known and unknown compete for America’s approval to win a much coveted role!

People who care strongly enough about casting decisions to voice an opinion in social media are probably also going to see the movie. This is different from people who voice opinions on electoral candidates. While they may blow hot or cold on a candidate or issue, they may still not bother to vote or may not live in the area where the issue is up for vote.

The one glimmer of hope for those in doubt, however, is Kutcher having had one foot in Hollywood and the other in Silicon Valley for years now. So, it may actually work to have the Twitter pioneer play Steve Jobs. Another good point comes from a user named Savor who wrote the following in a discussion thread on MacRumors.com:

“I remember when people scoffed at Heath Ledger portraying The Joker. The guy from 10 Things I Hate About You. But, he surprised all of us with that role and won an Oscar for it after his death. Not saying Kutcher will step up his game at that level. It is only an indie film. But, like another poster mentioned, he might just need a talented director and writer to push him to another level.”

Worst comes to worst, we can always bank on Kutcher’s performance and the biopic becoming another Showgirls and –as noted in the above word cloud– be so “bad it might be good.”

Jordan Hubert can be reached at jhubert@sterlingpr.com. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jahubert.

Photo credit: The Hollywood Reporter

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