Monday, May 18, 2020

Movie with Abe: The Social Ones

The Social Ones
Directed by Laura Kosann
Released March 3, 2020

We live in an age of social media. People often learn about major events in the lives of those they know casually by reading about them online, and even close friends or family may end up seeing big news posted before they get a personal phone call or text about it. Online platforms aren’t just for important developments, and, particularly in times of quarantining and isolating at home, users turn to their apps to pass the time. The ritual act of scrolling and liking can become almost robotic, and when you really look at what the content generating so much traffic is, the lack of actual substance is astounding.

Mia (Laura Kosann) and Ava (Danielle Kosann) are sisters who work at the National Influencer magazine, which highlights social media stars with astronomically high follower counts. As they prepare for a major issue that will bring together some of the biggest stars, they assess how to balance their priorities and what it is they want people want to see. As each influencer is profiled, a social media therapist (Stephanie March) helps several of them confront their issues, and one Snapchat star (Colton Ryan) undergoes a crisis of conscience that causes him to revert back to a pre-technology form of existence.

This film is a mockumentary that aims to highlight the ridiculousness of these stand-ins for real-life influencers who, when given the chance to answer questions about what it is that they put out into the world, reveal the absence of any depth or real meaning. There’s also a great deal of humor to be found here, with the failure of internet celebrity to enable people to communicate properly in real life becoming painfully clear when one can only speak one-word answers or deliver a reply that lasts sixty seconds, a length dictated by their typical platform limits. Investigations into troll factories and attempts to unpack what those who live vicariously through their own online personas are amusing and even border on legitimately enlightening.

The best part of this film is that many of its jokes won’t go over as well with a younger audience that, like these onscreen characters, has only ever heard fabled stories of flashcards and floppy disks. The concept of a nostalgia disorder that causes influencers to seek out the last Blockbuster, buy DVD players, or put up band posters from the 1990s will most delight those at the intersection of generations who understand these references and still grasp the current reality of the dominance of social media in everyday life. Mia and Ava, played by real-life sisters and filmmakers Laura and Danielle Kossan, initially seem like stand-ins for the audience profiling the absurdity of all this. As the film progresses, however, it becomes clear that this film’s target audience has in part bought in to this digital culture, though they need to take a step back and roll their eyes at themselves every once in a while, which this film offers a great opportunity to do.


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