Say what you will about the Charlie Sheen media juggernaut, but then get out of the way, because it’s unstoppable. It took @CharlieSheen just over 24 hours to reach the 1 million follower milestone. At the time he passed the mark, Sheen was gaining about 12,000 new followers per hour. Apparently, whether the vice is rocks of crack cocaine or tweeting, Sheen has, as he told 20/20, only one speed, one gear.
James Franco currently has about 315,000 followers, after making a big splash and harnessing the buzz of hosting the Oscars. Sheen, by contrast has harnessed what is unquestionably the meme of the year — with iterations ranging from websites to LOLCats to parody New Yorker cartoons — and ridden it as if it were wild rodeo sex.
The celebrity endorsement network Ad.ly, which also counts Kim Kardashian, Snoop Dogg and Sheen’s ex-wife Denise Richards among its clients, has confirmed that it assisted Sheen in getting started on Twitter, but says that there are currently no plans for the actor to send paid Tweets (putting to rest speculation that his first Twitpic was paid for by either Naked Juice or Vivid Entertainment, but the possibilities are still limitless).
A rep from Ad.ly says the company helped wrangle the @charliesheen name from a squatter then simply got Sheen and his manager up to speed on the basics (hashtags, bit.ly, twitpic, etc.) and set him loose. “The historical debut and unprecedented growth is all him,” says the rep. “It’s Charlie being Charlie. EPIC!”
The rise would appear to be unprecedented, but how it sustains remains to be seen. The stat provider Twitter Counter predicts @charliesheen will hit 2 million followers in five days and could pass @LadyGaga (which currently has more than 8 million followers) in 45 days. Of course these predictions are based only on one phenomenal 24-hour period driven by non-stop TV and media coverage, however. Then again, does Gaga have Tiger Blood?
People are indeed “mystified by this odyssey that refuses to quit calling itself Charlie Sheen.” They are also, for the moment, transfixed.