The messages are abundantly evident in Clickbait, but it’s poorly approached with a watery script, attempting to show the downfalls of seeking social popularity.
Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein‘s Clickbait comes at a convenient time where social media is at an interesting place. Influencers and YouTubers are finding innovative and curious ways to increase their Social Blade to ensure they remain “relevant”, a term repeated by the Logan brothers to patronise absolutely anyone who they assume are below them.
Do you remember last year when the top YouTubers were using their popularity to make diss tracks on each other? Then it later transpired that most of the “beef” was manufactured for the clicks. Regardless of the false advertising, their audiences enjoyed the tracks anyway, but I believe, and many others do too, that this was part of the new age of the internet where content became the most valuable asset you can produce. Clickbait, in a nutshell, is trying to convey that message.
Character Bailey (Colby Stewart) is a YouTuber in Clickbait and opens up the film with her in tears that another vlogger has beaten her to the charts. The person beating her has three months to live due to terminal cancer, but that is irrelevant to her; she believes that they’ve used their illness as an opportunity, a flawed thought process her friend Emma (Brandi Aguilar) questions.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]That’s what is frustrating about Clickbait; it understands the landscape we are currently witnessing at the moment.[/su_pullquote]
Bailey’s popularity and leading in the charts means a lot to her. It defines her. Her approach is tacky, wild and self-serving. A message Clickbait brings to the stage clearly. Her friend is there to commentate the falseness of this lifestyle. Emma is the true measure of the limits in the social arena, but Bailey seemingly does not care. The film reaches that limit when Bailey has a stalker that sneaks into her house at night to record her in bed and sniff her underwear, which sees her popularity increase. The issue is, Bailey does not mind, and that irks Emma.
The B-movie production is easy to forgive in Clickbait, but the writing and direction are suspect. Some of the scenes feel improvised, with the two characters looking to find ways to extend the scene purely by dialogue. The film shows long cuts of the stalker going into Bailey’s house, and this is repeated throughout the film pointlessly. The approach is designed to feel like a comedy, but it comes across as silly and unwarranted. The message is diluted by inserted elements that were not necessary for a story that relies on the demise of a YouTuber.
And that message is that this industry can go too far. Everyone is under the microscope as soon as they have a camera pointed on them. We live in a reality where one wrong sentence or action can reduce your career back to the Job Centre. The fact that Bailey enjoys her stalker’s actions goes beyond morals and principles; it’s selling your soul and your right to privacy. It’s sexually invasive and exploitative, but if it gets you the views it’s worth it, right? Clickbait is a scatterbrained film with the correct messages.
That’s what is frustrating about Clickbait; it understands the landscape we are currently witnessing at the moment. As social media evolves, vloggers are becoming more open about their personal lives. You do not need to watch this film to understand the current climate; it’s not worth it.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.