Hey Twitter, keep the shades off

The microblogging service is having its Ed Sullivan moment. This could be bad if its founders aren't circumspect about it.

Oprah's second-ever tweet. Um, yeah. Twitter

A correction was made to this post. See below for details.

Oprah's crazy about it . Ashton Kutcher and Anderson Cooper are making fools of themselves trying to show what rabid fans they are. Friday, April 17, 2009, will pretty much go down as the day when the loyally followed indie-rock band known as "Twitter" made its big major-label splash.

If it were the late '90s, this would be its big debut on "Total Request Live" with Carson Daly emceeing and a bunch of screaming girls outside waving posters with crudely drawn fail-whales and "MARRY ME, EVAN WILLIAMS !" scrawled on them. But in keeping with the '90s pop-culture references, it's starting to remind me a little bit too much of "That Thing You Do," the 1996 Tom Hanks flick about a one-hit-wonder pop band that has a smash hit in the wake of the '60s British Invasion and is then never heard from again after mainstream fame makes them more about the image and less about the music.

20th Century Fox

The issue I have with all this Twitter mega-buzz is that it has the capacity to pack a double punch--in a bad way. First, the media blitz and celebrity endorsements can solidify it as a fad, like the momentarily trendy "pet rock" of Web 2.0. And second, it can tick off the early adopters, the ones who were really at the core of Twitter for its first few years as a geek cult phenomenon. There are already a few who aren't too thrilled about the fact that the Kutcher-CNN million-follower race appears to have been gamed by Twitter itself.

Mainstream success is great for Twitter, which is legitimately shaking up media and communications in ways that I don't think many people thought it would a few years ago. But I certainly hope that all the celebrity frenzy isn't veering it off course on its real, long-term development strategy. You know, like a business model . In "That Thing You Do," the band's descent into gimmickiness is best expressed by the fact that the manager, played by Hanks, suggests that the drummer always wear sunglasses onstage. Let's hope that the Ashton Kutcher-mania doesn't turn out to be the same for Twitter.

On the other hand, back in the '90s Kutcher was best known for playing a teenage stoner on "That '70s Show." I'm pretty sure no one thought he'd ever be heard from again.

Yikes! As a number of you have pointed out in the comments section, I goofed on the movie trivia. In "That Thing You Do," it was indeed the drummer who had to wear the sunglasses. We've fixed that, and thanks all for the catch. (1:22 p.m. PDT)

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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