There are certain things we’ve come to expect from an actor’s Instagram: buzzy project announcements with earnest captions like “I’m so thrilled for you guys to see this one!” Sponsored posts for strange gummies to make your vagina taste like a freshly baked muffin, or classy dog food that “redefines” canine health. Tributes to other well-known people who have died.
And, above all, lots and lots of pictures of themselves. Bathing-suit pictures. Awards-show pictures. “Brave” no-filter pictures. Photos with the aforementioned dead person. Black-and-white selfies somehow illustrating world tragedies. Look-at-me-eating-pasta! pictures. Look at me standing next to a normie (my sister!) pictures. Think of an actor. Now go to their Instagram page. Tell me I’m wrong.
There’s one exception: Michael Keaton. Yes, of Batman. And Birdman. Also Beetlejuice, and I’m sure some other movies that don’t start with the letter B. He has a 30-plus-year career. Maybe you watched him win the 2022 Emmy for Dopesick—not that there’s any evidence of it on his Instagram account.
Michael Keaton’s Instagram (@michaelkeatondouglas) has 866,000 followers and zero pictures of Michael Keaton. O.K., fine, there are maybe two. Out of almost 1,400 posts. As I write this, Keaton’s most recent Instagrams are of several gnawed pork ribs that he’s fashioned into a horseshoe on his plate with the enigmatic caption “Dimensions.”
Nothing about Michael Keaton’s Instagram reads “famous actor.” There’s no artifice. No sponsorships. No Hey check out my dazzling life or glistening muscles. Pedro Pascal may be the Internet’s “daddy,” but Michael Keaton is our dad.
I mean this as a compliment. I love him. He’s a dad in the absolutely best way possible. For one, he regularly posts photos of his midsize TV playing CNN. Not screen captures from CNN videos—photos of the TV itself. The accompanying captions are either encouraging praise (about Kamala Harris, recently: “Man, was she great!”) or impassioned criticism (regarding Mike Pence: “Portrait of a sad sad, weak man”).
He posts countless pictures of newspaper articles. Hard newspaper articles! Blurry pictures of the moon. Double rainbows. Sarcastic signs at divey restaurants—basically the epitome of “dad humor.”
My favorite Michael Keatonian move is when he posts multiples of the same photo. Which he does a lot. Back in 2015, he posted the exact same photo of his computer screen four times (four times!), showcasing—along with all his Safari tabs, one of which was, adorably, a Page Not Found tab he neglected to close—a Huffington Post article about the G.O.P. presidential debate in which Megyn Kelly called out Trump for his sexism. Each of the photos had a different caption, presumably because no one told him you can click “edit” to amend the original. (If you tell him, I will kill you.)
Of course it helps that he’s a force for good. (At least to me—I’m a liberal.) I’m sure I wouldn’t feel as endeared to Michael Keaton if he were posting, say, Tucker Carlson rants alongside “What an upstanding guy!” His updates aren’t always even timely—he’ll post about an article or event 48 hours after its actual news cycle, after the Internet’s already spat out every conceivable take and moved on to the next thing.
Keaton’s most recent Instagrams are of three gnawed pork ribs that he’s fashioned into a horseshoe on his plate with the enigmatic caption “Dimensions.”
Even this I find admirable. Someone with a huge public platform who’s not just trying to have the fastest, hottest take that will garner the most likes and reposts? How refreshing! How innocent.
Maybe I’m especially soft on Keaton’s Instagram presence because it reminds me of my own dad, who lives 2,000 miles away and is very much not on Instagram. My dad often texts me photos he takes of his Minneapolis newspaper—yes, the hard copy—articles like Alcohol Linked to Cancer in Women, along with an entreaty for me to “Please read this!!!” even though all that’s visible is the headline and maybe the first two sentences.
When the Minnesota Twins are playing, he’ll send a picture of the TV from the couch to show me the score, a sweet, if nugatory, gesture, since the glare is usually too harsh for me to see the TV screen even when I zoom in. (I usually end up googling the score myself before texting back.) It’s our love language of sorts. So, sure, maybe pictures of TV screens give me a little bit of a paternal ache.
But Michael Keaton’s Instagram is great for reasons beyond my natural fondness for technologically inept old men. It’s authentic, which means everything in the world of social media, which is contrived to appear real, while being utterly fake. (Case in point: when I post a nice photo of myself smiling in the sunlight, it’s motivated by every feeling but contentment.)
Actors can be a rarefied species. I have no idea what Jessica Chastain does on any given Tuesday night, but I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what Michael Keaton might be doing: hanging with his yellow Lab, Amos, and watching a Woodstock at 50 documentary on CNN.
Michael, if you’re reading this, thank you for delighting me, and feel free to post this four times.
Lauren Bans, formerly an editor at GQ, is a television writer in Los Angeles. She is currently on strike