Not Okay | Third Space

Not Okay

Painful lesson in the world of influencers
Mon 1 Aug 2022

3 out of 5 stars

The world of influencers is a bit of an enigma. These pseudo-stars of social media rise to fame for a brief moment, and marketers attempt to tap into their micro-fame before they flame out. Between podcasts, TikTok videos and Youtube channels, they try to maintain their imperceptible popularity with silly dances and millennial rants. Writer, director, and actor Quinn Shephard taps into the fleeting world of the influencer with her satirical depiction of this ludicrous phenomenon.

Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) is a photo editor for the online magazine, Depravity. Yet, her desire is to find that opportunity to write an article that will get her the notoriety she desires. She lives a lonely life in New York City and aspires to impress her co-workers, mainly social media influencer Colin (Dylan O’Brien). This leads her to fake a trip to a writer’s conference in Paris and she uses her photo editing skills to post about her time in front of all iconic tourist destinations. An innocent ruse until a series of terrorist attacks shake the French city and Danni’s work colleagues and family think she is a survivor of the attacks.

She manages to fool everyone into thinking she has arrived back in New York as a changed person and is asked to write about her experiences. Since she has no real stories to share, the young aspiring writer heads to a support group for victims of violent acts. In the process, she manages to befriend teenage anti-gun activist Rowan Aldren (Mia Isaac). She had witnessed a school shooting, had been working to restrict gun laws, and was drawn into Danni’s world of hashtags and Insta-stardom. After their meeting, the wanna-be writer pens an article encouraging people to admit to not being okay and share their experiences with the moniker #IAmNotOkay. This shoots her into a realm of attention that she welcomes, but she soon discovers she is not prepared to handle it, especially once the truth comes to light.

Initially, this all feels like a cringe-worthy coming-of-age story for a generation that has come to think that the virtual world is reality. Yet, Quinn Shephard’s screenplay quickly exposes how unrealistic it is for people to maintain this computer-generated existence. Her tale tugs at the strings of the two age-old adages of ‘be careful of what you wish for’ and ‘the grass is not always greener.’ Especially when this world is all built on a lie. This movie shows how quickly someone can go from being a hero to being the villain in their own story that is broadcast to the world on social media. Zoey Deutch embodies an age group that thinks that having followers means they have an identity. Her performance is exceptionally detestable throughout the opening scenes, but manages to show how vicious this game can be in this online community.

Meanwhile the stand out within this convoluted journey is Mia Isaac (Don't Make Me Go). As the tortured and angry teenager, she humanises the activist while showing the importance of her societal role. Even though her character never completes her entire story arc, her final speech is a catharsis for those who have suffered at the hands of this violent world. While everything happens rather quickly and the story is over before you realise it has even begun, an important message must be found. Some could land on the anti-gun and anti-terrorism themes, but there is something deeper to consider. Not Okay is a warning to all who sit in their lounges trying to think up the best way to become a Tik Tok, Instagram or podcast sensation. Instead, get out into the real world and do something of substance to change this world for the better.

REEL DIALOGUE: Is fame worth the effort?

There are many films and books written on the rise and fall of stars from many fields. These stories allow audiences to see the very human experiences of these individuals who spend various lengths of time in the public eye. The interest from the general populace can stem from placing these individuals on a pedestal throughout their careers, but then seeing the human side of life after fame.

To a lesser degree, we all experience this as we progress through life. Success can come from sport, academics, business, or other endeavours, but how do we deal with the lower points in life?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10

The issue comes down to where we place our worth and identity. Suppose you put your trust in the accolades of others and in achieving goals. In that case, this will lead to eventual disappointment and depression. As seen in the words of James, the solution is to trust in the Lord for your worth. If all you do is done for the Lord's honour, regardless of how mankind responds to it, you will be encouraged by God. Even though the good and bad times will come, the Lord's support will be the constant that can sustain you.