This entertaining and eye-opening portrait of influencer culture reveals the world behind social media stardom. The handsome 16-year-old Austyn Tester wants to escape the confines of life in small-town Tennessee. In the online world he is worshipped by thousands of teenage girls, who all angle for his likes and attention during his live streams.
Director Liza Mandelup’s debut takes us into the gold-rush atmosphere of the fast-growing online world. Austyn is discovered by a manager from hell, Michael Weist, who promises him a fortune as long as he keeps selling his charm. The authoritarian Weist lives in Los Angeles in a house strewn with fast food. He shares his abode with a few of his Instagram stars, who are constantly expected to make videos. Talent is always replaceable, he says.
The work of the aspiring stars isn’t exactly complex: a meet-and-greet at a local shopping mall or a tour on which they mainly take photos with their screaming audience, as we see the ever-smiling twins Julian and Jovani Jara do. The constant stream of messages on their phones forms the soundtrack of their lives, while the house of cards slowly collapses around their performance of positivity.