“Fake Famous” is a fun, lighthearted HBO documentary produced by Graydon Carter that follows the lives of three wannabe influencers who have journalist Nick Boltin buying them followers, likes, and comments. 

This is all done to see if he can turn an ordinary person with a small amount of followers into an influencer that can score paid-partnership deals and free vacations. 

He managed to succeed with only one of his chosen three, which made the documentary feel somewhat incomplete. 

This social experiment started with a thousand applicants being narrowed down to three potential influencers; Dominique Drukman, Wiley Heiner, and Chris Bailey. Also included were multiple interviews done with social-media experts that gave commentary on the way young people are obsessed with being famous. 

Boltin set up photo shoots for the three to take strategically placed photos, giving the appearance that they were on vacation or flying on private jets when they really weren’t. The satirical social commentary was especially funny. 

After the Instagram posts were made, Boltin would buy the three influencers likes and comments from websites online to make it seem like they had an active following and fan base that was growing. 

Boltin said, “Fame is such an obscure, strange thing. You can’t touch it and yet it’s more powerful than almost any object on Earth. You can’t see it and yet almost everyone wants it. And whoever actually gets it has absolutely no control over it.”

Peeling away the filter on the photo, Boltin shows viewers what really goes into getting that thousand dollar ad post. He also highlights how the fake pictures and the fake bots lead to real money, as a million dollar industry has been created off of Instagram ads alone. 

Out of the three selected, Druckman was the one to truly embrace the fake lifestyle that her Instagram profile portrayed. Throughout her journey, she learned how much an influencer or famous person can impact a community by spreading joy in times of hardship. 

The other two selected influencers didn’t do as well with the experiment.

Heiner was harassed by an internet troll that caught on to his quick growing fan base and called him out for it. This made him realize that he didn’t want to be just another influencer portraying a false reality to a group of young, impressionable people. 

Bailey hated the fact that there were fake bots being purchased and did everything in his power to stop it. Deleting fake comments, Bailey said, “I’d rather be broke and real than be rich and be fake.” Bailey had the biggest character arc throughout the process, coming into the experiment with high hopes and leaving with a newfound dignity, choosing to be his true and authentic self. 

Poking fun at the influencers that society looks up to, the film provokes many questions. Fame may be based on the number of followers someone has, but being an influencer is not real fame. The influencer lifestyle should not be so highly praised because it is a deceptively fake lifestyle that children should not be trying to emulate. Although they live a seemingly glamorous life, “Fake Famous” shows that most influencers are nothing more than glorified infomercials. For social commentary, a good laugh and a peek behind the curtain of the average influencers life, “Fake Famous” is a documentary worth watching.

 

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