When asked about the protagonist of his debut feature Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham explained that he wrote Kayla Day instead of a male character because, when researching chatty kids on YouTube, he found that “Boys talk about Minecraft, girls talk about their souls.” This binary divide might give girls a better chance of finding a sensitive audience, but it also warns boys of their incompetence if they don’t play games. Where is the pale male dreamboat who just wants to talk supposed to find his kingdom?
The image of the perfect online influencer raised on Myspace, Tumblr, and now Instagram has long been a nice white boy with undebatable bone structure and a megawatt smile. Liza Mandelup knows this, and makes such a boy the subject of her case study in her new documentary Jawline. The film chronicles the day-to-day and attempted rise of Austyn Tester, a 16-year-old wannabe broadcaster living in rural Tennessee who’s trying to make a better life for himself by telling girls online that they’re beautiful and reminding them “No matter your current situation, you can do what you want in this life.” He wants to spread positivity… and get better WiFi.
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