Ahh, the digital landscape. There is not a dearth of conversations online or in real life about the complexities of the internet. Films like The Social Dilemma have helped facilitate ongoing conversations about the interpersonal effects of internet communities, personality cults around young social media stars and the significance of brandable performances of authenticity. The trailer for Gia Coppola’s latest dramedy, Mainstream, appears to be taking on similar subject matter. In it, Frankie (Maya Hawke), Link (Andrew Garfield) and Jake (Nat Wolff) are a trio of young people who use Link’s YouTube persona and Frankie’s affinity for film to find an online audience.
What results is a updated, Network-esque spiral of mayhem in which the three friends are tested by the allure of celebrity and the power of their influence to maintain the distance between Link’s online performance and their individual albeit interconnected egos. Mainstream is an intriguing project not merely because its subject matter is so timely, but also because it has the potential to be a spot-on critique of branding and social media or an ironic, messily executed perpetuation of the social phenom it strains to critique.
In the trailer, Hawke’s character can be seen vomiting emojis into a sink. Similarly, the trailer opens and closes with Garfield gazing into his own reflection in a mirror rehearsing what appears to be a classic apology video. Upon the mirror in red lipstick is the phrase “#realme”. It seems that the film is gesturing towards the dark sides of short-lived internet fame and the capitalization of young talented people by exploitative managers like that which Jason Schwartzman plays in the film.
It is yet to be determined if these aesthetic choices and topical narratives about the influence of the internet will be delivered with the control and right amount of exorbitance to not feel heavy-handed or pejoratively campy. #timewilltell #fingerscrossedcoppolalandsit
YouTubers like Jake Paul, Juanpa Zurita and Patrickstarrr appear in the Mainstream trailer, available here:
Mainstream hits VOD and theaters on May 7.