The American Meme, a new Netflix documentary film, highlights the absurdity and emotional dangers of life as a modern social media mogul. Writer-director Bert Marcus follows four web celebrities – Paris Hilton, Josh “the Fat Jew” Ostrovsky, Vine star Brittany Furlan and Kirill “the Slut Whisperer” Bichutsky – as they process the fame and ridiculousness of becoming a brand. DJ Khaled, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski also appear in the doc.
The briskly paced clip opens with Hilton gazing at selfies and scrolling through her phone, noting, “I have over 50 million followers on all my social media platforms.” Khaled comments on the immediacy of building web fame: “You can just pick up your phone, and you can show your talent to the world.”
But the interview subjects also tease the dark side of celebrity, noting the death of privacy and pondering the outlook of a post-meme life. Bichutsky reflects that, at an unspecified point, he “never wanted to die more.” “The age of the digital influencer is gonna crash,” adds Ostrovsky, who built his name off stealing other people’s jokes and posting them on Instagram without credit.
The American Meme is now streaming on Netflix.