Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Liza Mandelup
Starring: Austyn Tester
Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins
What It Is: A documentary that paints the good and ugly sides to social media and social media influencers for the younger generation through the eyes and experiences of sixteen-year-old aspiring star Austyn Tester. We follow Austyn as he attempts at every day, maintained a connection with his growing (adolescent / young adult female) audience. When he gets a taste of what life is like as a popular influencer after visiting a troop of Youtubers, Austyn’s life changes, for better or worse.
What We Think: I’m so glad this film didn’t cross the line that it so easily could have. “Look at how silly/stupid this generation is.” It’s an easy joke that I’m tired of hearing and used to seeing. We get it–but this film didn’t cross that line. It’s so much more unbiased and original in its observation of the what’s and why’s of millennial / gen X social media culture, and when you look through the same dutifully empathetic lens this film treats us to, you remember that all kids are pretty much the same through every generation (especially the idea that every generation has their own vices). Through it definitely can be bizarre in seeing a lot of these kids’ behaviors, ie, the dissection of crazed young fans, how the business of internet stardom operates, and the personal worth of materialism, the film is sure to justify what makes everyone involved tick—and it can be heartbreaking. In the end, it treats its subjects with respect, something that can be harder to find in a day and age when making jabs at younger generations is an easy yet terribly worn out grab (see: Vice. Yeah, I’m looking at you and that cringey millennial joke, Vice). This doc beautifully connects the dots and offers different lifestyles and perspectives around how fame and the pursuit of fame can change a young person’s life and attitude. It’s about the utopia that social media offers.
Our Grade: B+, It feels like the IRL equivalent to Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, almost. It’s a sweet yet painful dip into an age that we may or may not like or understand, but is still a part of us nonetheless. Well made, nice to look at, well-structured, and incredibly watchable: Certainly a worthwhile documentary, an eye-opening reflection in its sincerity and humanity. I wholly recommend it.