Hollywood took notice over the weekend when a Tennessee child’s poignant anti-bullying video went viral, and the student who helped make it — Keaton Jones of Knoxville — soon started seeing lots of love from The Hulk, Captain America, Luke Skywalker, and a ton more celebrities hailing from every corner of the entertainment world.
As with all things viral, it happened fast. Posted by Jones' mom to Facebook on Friday, then tweeted and shared relentlessly throughout the weekend, by Sunday evening the video led Keaton to discover that some of his big-screen heroes know how to be heroes in real life, too.
Chris Evans — Captain America himself — was among an ever-growing list of celebrities who reached out after seeing the clip Keaton and his mom made to share his own struggle to cope with the bullies at his school.
If you haven't seen the video yet, check it out; it definitely looks like it's coming straight from the heart.
In the wake of the clip going viral, Keaton found himself on the VIP guest list when Evans and the rest of his Marvel friends turn out for next spring's premiere of Avengers: Infinity War.
“While those punks at your school are deciding what kind of people they want to be in this world,” tweeted Evans, “how would you and your mom like to come to the Avengers premiere in LA next year?”
From there, the list of big names grew and grew. Celebrities from Demi Lovato to Snoop Dogg to Dr. Phil to Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown all threw their support behind Jones, his mom, and the countless other kids who endure their own version of what Keaton apperad to be going through.
By Monday afternoon, though, a handful of internet sleuths began pointing out past Facebook posts and tweets from Kimberly Jones — Keaton's mom — that allegedly show off the Confederate flag, endorse controversial social and political views, and generally add a layer of awkwardness and buzzkill to all the social media good will that the video itself had launched.
Evans wasn’t the only Avengers star who had encouraging words. Speaking from firsthand experience as a former victim of bullying himself, Mark Ruffalo had urged Keaton to “Protect Yo Heart,” and called the young man “my own personal super hero.”
Of course, it’s heartening to know you have the Force on your side — as Keaton found out when Mark Hamill shouted out his support, telling him the bullies are “just jealous because you're so smart & handsome.”
But after social media users began questioning other aspects of Kimberly Jones' world view, she apparently deleted her public-facing Facebook page — the place where video had first appeared.
While it's all ended up looking like kind of a bummer, it's hard to deny that the original video — you know, the one about bullying that was shared tens of millions of times — got a lot of well-intentioned people, famous or otherwise, to talk about bullying.
It likewise got a lot of people from all walks of life to show tons of support not only for Jones, but for others who've been in the same dark place he appears — based on the video — to have been. Maybe that, at least, doesn't have to seem so awkward.