Jonah Hill has dropped his coffee. We repeat: Famous actor, writer, and director Jonah Hill, while strolling down the street unawares, dropped his coffee. Normally, this would not be noteworthy, but two facts come together to make it so. The first is that Hill is a celebrity and the second, related to the first, is that being a celebrity means he’s photographed so incessantly that the exact split-second when the coffee dropped from his hand has been captured in an entrancing image.
Here, see for yourself:
This photo is beautiful in its simplicity. Hill is captured, stoic in all-black, sunglasses, and AirPods, as he surveys a city street, holding the lid of a coffee cup as it begins to detach and plummet to the ground. He is not aware this is happening yet, but will be in the immediate future when his pant legs are splashed and his chance to enjoy the coffee snatched away by the cruel whims of cup physics. To the side, a woman in sandals smiles serenely as if she knows what’s about to happen. The same photo, taken a moment earlier or later, would be disposable. By some stroke of fortune, however, a masterpiece is born.
Amidst people tweeting the picture with captions like “MOOD” and “rip,” artists have sought to recreate a moment of impending disaster with illustrations based on it. @krartkat made their drawing into a sticker that, if stared at long enough, allows the viewer to meditate on the fickle nature of happiness.
Jen Lewis translates Hill’s fateful moment (and, crucially, the woman standing next to him, who frames the piece) into a watercolor painting. Lewis guides us through her process, from the initial spark of creative energy through to the finished work.
It isn’t surprising that the photo has captured so many imaginations. Even if it wasn’t Jonah Hill, celebrity, holding the coffee cup, the image is striking. Who among us has not dropped a cup, after all? Who among us, confident that we’ve conquered the ability to hold objects, hasn’t had those skills fail us spectacularly, losing an imminent battle against gravity? Truly, the picture speaks to the universal experience of stupid accidents happening to our stupid selves.
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