Tag Archives: facebook

Generation Like (PBS Frontline 2014)

16 Jun

The PBS Frontline Special Generation Like takes a deep look into how an up-and-coming group of tech-savy kids are becoming both creators and consumers of a new digital culture.  Through popular social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTubeInstagram, and Tumblr, today’s teens are redefining traditional marketing and public relations techniques by identifying and expressing themselves in a digital settings. Likes. Views. Hits. Friends. Subscribers. Tweets. Favorites. The short documentary makes it clear we are living in an era where every move we make is projected into the public sphere and quantified by a certain set of numbers.

Narrated by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, the hour-long special interviews several well-known personalities who have struck it big through social media. Tyler Oakley is one such case. The 25 year-old blogger has over 4.5 million subscribers on his Youtube channel and 2.5 million twitter followers.  He started vlogging from his parent’s house back in 2007, back when Youtube was still in its infancy. Like a typical teenager, he talked about his favorite clothes, his favorite music (One Direction), favorite movies, food and products. As his online popularity increased, the major brands he was mentioning started paying attention. It wasn’t long before brands like Pepsi, People Magazine, Nike, and Taco Bell started sponsoring certain videos, setting up Tyler with exclusive gifts and parties, and creating an image and brand loyalty among some of Tyler’s fans.

It becomes apparent in the social media realm that one’s online presence means everything giving life to the phrase “you are what you like”. By the simple act of “liking” certain brands on Facebook, you are actually playing a part in a bigger community, as well as submitting your tastes to be analyzed by mega corporations. When brands figure out how to tap into your personal tastes, likes, and interests, the line between consumer, product, marketer and creator become blurred. The documentary gives several examples of how modern companies are utilizing fans as mini-employees – getting teens to promote their products among their peers in exchange for exclusive content.

The documentary keeps things at a pretty brisk pace, highlighting both the pros and cons that come with this unprecedented technology. Though the tone of the film as a whole leans towards the critical/cynical side of online commercialism, Generation Like is mostly an engaging and interesting watch for all ages, and should provide for some deep discussion about the role of digital media within corporate culture.


Rating 8/10

Similar to: ReGeneration, Consuming Kids 

Disconnect (2012)

5 Jan

In a society growing more and more reliant on digital technology,  does such technology fundamentally the way in which we are communicating and connecting with one another? This is the questions Disconnect asks the audience, and through s series of interconnecting stories we see the multiple effects the digital age has created for its users.

Structurally similar to the 2006 Best Picture Award Winner Crash,  Disconnect strings together a series of characters and incidents surrounding the use and abuse of digital media. A lonely housewife flirts with an online stranger.. a highschool boy starts a fake Facebook profile as a joke… someone’s digital identity is stolen, someone’s daughter receives a sexually explicit text… you get the idea.  The film’s message is obvious right from the title screen.

What makes the film work is its use of editing back and forth between the stories to keep the film moving forward at a brisk pace.  Despite an overbearing amount of melodrama, the narrative is engaging, and the film paints an effective portrait of 21st-century life. Things get bugged down during the third act where a predictable finish is delivered to us in a painful slow-motion.  By this time, the audience is so numb from the film shouting in our faces about the evils of the digital world, this final sequence is simply an anti-climatic way of wrapping things up.

Directed by Oscar-nominee Henry-Alex Rubin, the film stars Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, and Alexander Skarsgaard, who all give good-enough performances to make up for some of the less-than-enthusiastic child acting.

Rating: 7/10

Similar to: Crash, Babel, 21 Grams