Dec 23, 2018
Welcome back to another week of podcasts, another selection of Netflix Original movies, and movies currently streaming on HBO. One Movie Punch is transforming behind the scenes, as we’re bringing on a team of correspondents/reviewers to offer more insightful and hilarious reviews. We’ll still be reviewing the Netflix Original movies, but we’ll also start picking up more theater and film festival releases as time goes on. If you haven’t yet, head over to onemoviepunch.com to subscribe to the daily podcast, and connect with us on social media at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We could make you, like, totally famous!
Today’s movie is “The American Meme”, the Netflix Original documentary written and directed by Bert Marcus. The documentary analyzes the concept of the social media star, from their origins and meteoric rise, to the current state of the social media industry, and most importantly, the long-term effects on multiple social media stars.
Whole generations now have grown up with social media as a constant presence in their lives, arguably with the social importance of the Internet which houses the networks, and the electricity that powers the servers and infrastructure to deliver it. I’m not referencing any particular social network, as each has their pros and cons, but the very idea of social media. It certainly revolutionized the way I kept in contact with my high school and college friends, in both good and bad ways. It has also dramatically changed how we project ourselves into society, from finding the most flattering photo angle for a selfie to selectively posting positive aspects of our lives. It’s a tool like any other, and depending on how it is used, it can harm others, or bring people great success, and in the case of some social media stars, both.
Bert Marcus interviews the A-list of social media stars, each of whom came to social media from different circumstances, and each of whom has found some level of success. Paris Hilton, Josh Ostrovsky, Brittany Furlan, Emily Ratajkowski, DJ Khaled, Kirill Bichutsky. Each one of them has used social media to either launch or extend their career, dominating entire platforms for a time. It’s not a list of individuals I would normally care to learn about, mostly because deep down I think we all know it’s ridiculous that social media stardom can land such big paychecks. However, each interview provides a great deal of hidden insight into their careers, sometimes showing the inability to grasp the level of privilege they hold, sometimes showing the very shrewd and almost pathological business savvy. And better yet, when Bert Marcus puts their considered interviews up against the same person’s social media persona, you see just how well they have learned to play the part. Laugh at their antics all you want, but some of them now control major businesses. Josh Ostrovsky is now the biggest producer and distributor of Rosé wine. DJ Khaled continues to bank millions of dollars using Snapchat as a side hustle. And Paris Hilton, the godmother of social media stardom, has turned her overcovered life into her own billion dollar line of products. Oh yeah, and was savvy enough to make herself a producer on this very documentary.
It’s not all fun and games, though, and the documentary also serves as a cautionary tale for aspiring social media stars, particularly when your fame runs out, or the lifestyle catches up with you. We see the dramatic rise and slight fall of Brittany Furlan, who became the target of a great deal of criticism because of her Vine videos, and a great deal of online bullying and abuse by the worst the Internet offers. We also see the rise and current struggle of Kirill Bichutsky, as he realizes social media stardom is not only terrible for his body, but doesn’t have a long-term game. In fact, nearly everyone interviewed acknowledged that the days of social media stardom, as an exclusive means of finding a career, will end, and the perks which had been available to anyone who could gather a large enough audience will revert back to the celebrities followed by the entertainment gossip shows and websites. I would argue this is the greatest lesson to learn from this documentary, especially for a world where a very large majority of high school students list their primary objective after school to become a social media star.
“The American Meme” (2018) is an insightful documentary into social media stardom, comprised of a series of interviews with A-list social media stars, along with the footage and posts that brought them to stardom. Rather than exemplify the unattainable image often portrayed on social media, Bert Marcus dives headfirst into the nuts and bolts, along with a more realistic representation of social media stardom. Documentary fans, and social media star fans and haters alike, should definitely check out this documentary, and maybe show it to any children who have dreams of following the same path.
Note to self: Schedule second viewing with teenage daughter.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
One Movie Punch: 8.2/10
“The American Meme” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix.