As Fourth of July celebrations commenced across the nation, Mark Zuckerberg dropped a video onto his Instagram account that immediately generated hundreds of thousands of views. Indeed, the clip seemed designed for warp speed virality.

Behind a fast-moving boat, Mr. Zuckerberg wakeboards while wearing a tuxedo and sunglasses as he sips from a tall boy. The clip is set to Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 anthem “Born in the U.S.A.” For its half-minute duration, Meta’s multibillionaire chief executive shows off his surf technique.

“Amazing!” commented Lauren Sánchez, the fiancée of Jeff Bezos.

A gaming influencer, @StoneMountain64, wrote, “Now that’s content.”

Mr. Zuckerberg replied, “Just doing my part.”

To Zuck-ologists, the clip was yet another example of the 40-year-old executive’s attempt to remake his image. In recent years, he has gone from a flip-flop-and-hoodie-wearing tech entrepreneur to a sleeker, Richard Bransonesque figure, one who wears Brunello Cucinelli T-shirts, a silver chain and has immersed himself in mixed martial arts.

As one commenter on X put it, “The PR team rehabbing Zuck continues their undefeated streak.”

The video was a sequel of sorts to a video Mr. Zuckerberg posted on July 4, 2021. That one showed him aboard a moving hydrofoil while carrying an American flag to the soundtrack of John Denver’s 1971 hit “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

The next year he posted a picture of himself wearing an American flag cowboy hat as he grilled sausages. “Smoking these meats,” he wrote in a caption. “Happy 4th!” Last year’s post featured a candid shot of Mr. Zuckerberg and his family.

If social media experts help Mr. Zuckerberg craft his posts, then not much is known about them. Meta representatives have suggested that he does not depend on image consultants. A representative for Meta did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

If the intent behind Mr. Zuckerberg’s patriotic content drops has been to render him more relatable to the American public, despite his approximately $181 billion net worth, according to Bloomberg, they appear to have helped. The online response to this year’s Fourth of July post was largely upbeat, markedly different from the satirical memes that roasted his 2021 hydrofoil post.

But some online observers pointed out an off-note in the clip: its use of “Born in the U.S.A.” Often misinterpreted as a rah-rah anthem, the song tells the story of a Vietnam War veteran who returns home to a lonely welcome and dire circumstances.

Dana White, the chief executive of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, who has long tried to set up a cage match between Mr. Zuckerberg and his tech rival Elon Musk, reacted to the video with a positive comment: “’MERICA!!!!!”

Mr. Musk had a different take, writing on X: “May he continue to have fun on his yachts. I prefer to work.”

By Alex Vadukul

Source link