So this is how a viral post happens: At 1:42 p.m. on Sunday, January 29, Buffalo native Peter Vullo made a Facebook post that nicely summarized the mindset of a great many residents of Donald Trump’s America. Captioned "2017 starter pack," the simple but hugely effective image displayed three books — George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 — along with a Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s mind-bending cult classic, They Live.
As of 12:00pm. on February 1, the post had been shared … more than 19,000 times. Yes, more than 19,000 times in three days. Meanwhile, the post continues to make waves on Twitter and Instagram, as well.
Vullo, an assistant manager at the Amherst Dipson Theater and curator of the popular Thursday Night Terrors screening series, is still reeling from what’s transpired in such a short period of time. Here, he talks about how the post came together, and why he chose these books and this film.
So … what are you thinking right now? This is crazy.
I’m in disbelief, honestly. I don’t think anyone ever expects one of their posts to go viral. At least, I didn’t. It’s a weird thing to watch unfold. I was having a regular day at work while this post was getting thousands of shares, and I’m wondering, "What in the world is happening?" It’s one thing to witness it happen to someone else, but to be in the middle of it is something else entirely. It’s hard to process. At a certain point, you feel as though it doesn’t belong to you anymore.
You can’t plan it. It just happens, and social media does the rest. It also says a lot about the zeitgeist of our current time — what people are thinking, what people are feeling. It’s strange.
You really nailed the four picks. Did they come to you right away? And was this any kind of planned photo, or just a quick idea?
Well, They Live has been on my mind a lot lately because of the Thursday Night Terrors screening of the film we did a few days ago. It felt like exactly the right movie at the right time. John Hurt passed away recently, so the film version of 1984 in which he starred came to mind as well. It was a combination of those and just keeping up on current events. Without getting too explicitly political, it feels like a strange and important time in our culture. There’s a feeling that we’re living in history at the moment — that books will be written about this particular time.
1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, and They Live have all been culturally significant for decades and decades, of course. They’re always relevant. Sometimes we just need a reminder. I think 2016 into 2017 was that reminder.
I post photos of movies and whatnot all the time on social media. I didn’t think anything of it. It’s just something I do. So, I gathered up those books and the movie, which were front and center on my shelf, and took a picture. It just caught fire, inexplicably, and gained momentum.
What kind of responses have you received?
People have given me lots of other titles to add to the list: Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, V for Vendetta, Idiocracy. Perhaps a second photo is in order.
Has anyone asked if your starter pack is for sale? Because I think there’s a real market for it…
I believe 1984, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451 are all back on the top sellers list! Amazon and other outlets can’t seem to keep them in stock either. It’s great to see people interested in reading again.
I do have some plans for something involving one of the books in the stack. It’s hush-hush at the moment, but it could be very interesting. It will have some things in common with They Live …