"Fake Famous" (2021 release; 87 min.) is a non-fiction documentary about "famous influencers". As the movie opens, a voice over reminds us that back in the day, when young people are asked what they want to become when grown up, the top responses typically were doctors, lawyers, and the like. Today the top response apparently is "influencer". The film makers decide to run an experiment: pick 3 random people with very few followers, and turn each of them into a famous influencer. From a pool of thousands of applicants, Dominique (a/k/a "Dom"), Chris and Wylie are chosen. To get started, the film makers purchase fake followers (7500 for $119) for each of them... At this point we are 10 min. into the film.
Couple of comments: this is the directing debut of writer Nick Bilton, who has followed the tech industry for the New York Times, Vanity, and other platforms. The idea of a social experiment is as simple as it is brilliant AND entertaining. Bilton is savvy enough to know what angels to look for in the world of Instagram fame. For someone like me, who cares nothing about being on social media whatsoever, it is a fascinating look behind the curtains. So much fakeness and pretending, all for the sake of getting likes and comments. The idea that you can buy followers and likes and comments is simply astounding to me. We are told that even Kim Kardashian, queen of Instagram with 150+ million followers, relies on tens of millions of fake followers (bots). The very best of this documentary comes in the last 15 min. when it becomes clear what becomes of the three random picks to become a "famous influencer", and, equally fascinating, the unexpected impact of COVID-19 on "famous influencers". Bottom line: I ended up enjoying this documentary far more than I had expected. And frankly it exposes Instagram fame for what it really is (hint: look at the documentary's title).
"Fake Famous" recently premiered on HBO and is now available on HBO On Demand and other streaming platforms. Regardless of whether you yourself are on social media or not, if you have any interest in or curiosity about what really goes on in the Instagram fame universe, I'd readily suggest you check this out, and draw your own conclusion.
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