"Social Feedback Loop"
A Review of "Ingrid Goes West" by Nathan H. Box
Director: Matt Spicer, Writers: David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer, Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O'Shea Jackson Jr.
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME
This review will start with a request. I want you to open your phone or the phone of one of your kids. Look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat. Take a long hard look at who you are following and who is influencing your children. Before you, do you see Insta-famous celebrities with massive amounts of followers hawking pills, shakes, home decor, and a certain lifestyle? If this new realization bothers you, then "Ingrid Goes West" is the movie for you. I, for one, have been patiently waiting for a movie to address our new world in such a compelling movie and was pleasantly surprised to run across this film.
The movie stars Aubry Plaza from "Parks and Recreation" fame as Ingrid. In a lot of ways, Ingrid is a social media stalker. In other ways, she suffers from a deep psychosis which finds her compulsively obsessed with social media. Ingrid's first bout with the mental illness finds her in the grips of a mental institution. After lots of pills, therapy, and meditation she finds herself ready to be released back into the wild. Unfortunately for her, it doesn't take long before she succumbs to her old ways.
As she begins stalking Taylor played by Elizabeth Olsen, Ingrid receives money from her mother's estate. Taking her obsession to the next level, she uses that money to move to Los Angeles to be closer to Taylor. From here on out, things get really weird. Taylor, for her part, is the woman I mentioned in the opening paragraph. She is "Insta-famous" and can be found selling a certain lifestyle. What I found intriguing about the intersection of the two characters is how much they share in common. Both are victims of the social feedback loop which means they derive their worth from the likes and comments they get. They are focused like lasers on amassing huge amounts of followers. For Taylor, this means more money and influence. For Ingrid, this means someone out there likes here; a feeling she is seriously lacking. When the dust settles between the two characters, you can't help but wonder who is faker? Neither woman is being their authentic self. Instead, they are being who they think the world wants them to be.
"Ingrid Goes West" is a vision of our world few of us realized is real. It shows the ability of social media to connect us but also reveals its dark power. One of the scary moments comes when you realize the web is filled with people who root for death but make you more famous after you're gone. In the end, this movie reminded me to unplug from social media every once in a while if for no reason other than my own mental health.
Be good to each other,