Being an influencer is many a teenager’s dream, and it all seems so easy—you shoot a couple of videos a day, use some clever tags, and the followers, freebies and cash come pouring in. But although this portrait of 14-year-old Leonie from Berlin is framed as a fairy tale, appearances can be deceptive. Statistics on the relationship between teenagers and influencers—“48% of surveyed teens feel closer to their social media idol than their real friends”—put the world of Girl Gang in context.
Initially, Leonie’s family is delighted, because this red-haired girl with an open, freckled face seems to have struck gold with her spontaneous content. Her parents set themselves up as her managers, but as Leonie’s followers increase by the thousands, a screaming horde of teenage girls follow her wherever she goes, and she attracts one sponsor after another, the pressures and stress grow. “I’m trapped in Leo’s world,” her mother sighs at one point. The division between work and private life is gone, the list of products to be promoted seems endless. Can they ever get the genie back in the bottle?