“Influencer” is the GenZ term for almost famous and it’s a ferociously competitive arena. The digital culture can’t seem to shake the metaphor of virality. And influencers, on the face of it, enjoy viral fame. We romance the idea that someone posts a video and wakes up famous. Maybe it’s because it feels like magic in a mechanistic world.
What’s not as obvious is what goes on behind the scenes of making an influencer. The new Hulu documentary, Jawline, rips off the covers to reveal the harsh reality of what it takes to reach influencer status. The documentary follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a Tennessee kid from a working class family who strives for fame by spreading messages of positivity through YouNow, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and in-person meet-and-greets with fans, most of whom are teenage girls.
The film offers a glimpse into what it means to be Gen Z influencer wrestling with the reality that success means relentless content production, shape-shifting your identity on Facebook live, and recruiting lots of help along the way. It’s a fascinating and overdue look at life lived in the 99 percentile of persona—1 percent native self.