Decoding Fandom is a weekly column that dives deep into the world of fan culture and runs on Saturdays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.
After 56 years and 27 feature films, Martin Scorsese is finally having a moment.
Well, that’s not exactly true. The acclaimed director is responsible for some of the greatest films ever made, and his impact on filmmaking cannot be overstated. But while longtime Scorsese fans have always been in his corner, the director has garnered a new type of fan base as of late. The memesters and the chronically online have claimed Scorsese as one of their own.
The seeds of this internet fandom were planted some time ago, but most recently, Scorsese warmed the hearts of film lovers everywhere when he joined the movie-cataloging site Letterboxd. The website is a place for cinephiles to share their thoughts about films, where the opinions of movie nerds reign supreme. Scorsese joined Letterboxd to promote his 3-hour-long epic, Killers of the Flower Moon, sharing a list of films that inspired his own.
Scorsese has been in the news a lot lately, and not just because of his new picture. He went viral for agreeing with an interviewer who asked if he was “built different” because he won’t retire like Quentin Tarantino. He sat down with heartthrob Timothée Chalamet to discuss their Bleu de Chanel ad, and walked the red carpet with Kylie Jenner.
But the real architect of Scorsese’s online presence is his daughter, Francesca. She runs a popular TikTok account where she sometimes posts videos of her father, all of which get millions of views. A recent hit was the video where Fransesca quizzes her dad on internet slang like “slay” and “sneaky link” to see if he can guess their meanings. “He’s a certified silly goose” she says in one adorable video, using hashtags like #bestdadever and #DadsofTikTok. Francesca also let viewers know that her dad is aware of the viral Goncharov meme that captured the internet last year.
Scorsese has become something of a folk hero recently, at least to a certain kind of movie fan. He went viral a few years ago for saying Marvel movies are more like theme parks than cinema, angering Marvel devotees. He became enemy #1 for these fans, including MCU directors the Russo brothers. Last month, Joe Russo responded to Scorsese’s TikTok with his dog Oscar by joking that his dog is named “Box Office.” Marvel fans claimed Russo “destroyed” Scorsese, while Scorsese fans rolled their eyes.
Scorsese emerges as an avatar for real cinema, positioned in opposition to the Marvel box office machine. While the Russo brothers and their fans see Scorsese and his ilk as elitist, Scorsese nonetheless appears as a lovable man of the people, thanks in large part to his daughter’s intervention. For young cinephiles discouraged by the nature of today’s film industry, the 80-year-old Scorsese embodies the pro-art stance some feel is sorely lacking today. He’s someone worthy of stanning.
Why it matters
Considering his impressive resume, it’s not as if Scorsese needed a new PR campaign. But what’s unique about his current wave of internet fandom is that he’s beloved not just because of his films, but because of his persona—that of an endearing grandpa—in addition to what he stands for as a creator.
Scorsese’s hot takes on cinema may have become a lightning rod for contemporary debates about art and commodity, but it’s his love for his Gen Z daughter, his joyful passion for filmmaking, and his bushy, bushy eyebrows that make him such an iconic figure. He is the moment.