James Avery’s death on Dec. 31 led to an outpouring of grief on Twitter, but not everyone was as classy as James’ ‘Fresh Prince’ costars. A fake Will Smith account used James’ death as an opportunity to gain some attention; posting a tasteless tweet that manipulated the masses.
James Avery, who died of complications from heart surgery on Dec. 31, was a beloved ’90s figure due to his sweet, fatherly portrayal of Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But amidst the solid outpouring of grief, one particular tweet from “Will Smith” made headlines for its extremely poor taste.
Will Smith Parody Account Posts Tasteless Tweet
The things some people will do for just a little bit of Internet attention. Everyone — especially nostalgia-happy ’90s kids — loves a reunion, and a fake Will Smith account, @FreshPrinceWiII, capitalized on that when he used James’ death as an opportunity to make headlines.” “R.I.P. Uncle Phil,” “Will” wrote over a fake direct message conversation with fake NBC executives. “All you real Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fans out there… DON’T STOP #RETWEETING THIS.”
— Will Smith (@FreshPrinceWiII) January 1, 2014
Pretty sad, no? Unfortunately, it worked — to an extent. As of press time on Jan. 2, the message has been retweeted 133,894 times, despite the fact that it’s very obviously fake. The @FreshPrinceWiII account was only created after James’ death, it isn’t verified, and it has only posted three messages. Also, television deals don’t typically happen over direct message. They use Facebook chat for that.
James Avery: Costars Mourn His Death
Of course, the person behind this account is only one voice among many, and the real actors from Fresh Prince posted very sweet messages about their fallen friend. “The world has lost a truly special man,”Alfonso Ribeiro wrote on Facebook. “I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed. Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed.”
Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith also chimed in, saying “Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed. Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James. J’”
Hopefully James’ great work and reputation as a beloved family man will endure over this one tacky person’s lame Twitter prank.
What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Did the tweet go too far, or is it on us for falling for it?
— Shaunna Murphy