Johnnie Walker Blue released the second installment of it’s “Gentlemen’s Wager” series, in which Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini star as an ultra-rich mentor and mentee wagering beautiful items on adventurous tasks. I loved the first one and I loved the second one– so much so that this morning, over coffee, I showed it to my wife, telling her I wanted to show her my male fantasy. She cringed, probably expecting a video of a rock star with a harem of super models. Instead, she stood at the kitchen counter and watched this with me:
It’s a fantastical world of gentlemen adventurers, a world I will never know and one that probably does not exist. Which got me thinking about this article from GOOD, about a Australian teenager and social media super star who is abandoning her half a million Instagram followers, hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers and paid promotions from brands to focus on a more authentic life. She is going back and tagging her some of her most popular posts with cut lines that begin with “Not Real Life,” like this one:
It’s a bold move, especially for an 18 year-old, a superstar and a member of the aesthetically obsessed digital generation.
I’m hardly the first person to point out the chasm between fantasy and reality; the blurry lines that only seem to get blurrier the more connected to devices and digital lives we become. It’s just that fantasy comes it all shapes and sizes. It always has. So, what’s the difference?
You can argue that Gentlemen’s Wager is art and therefor less deceptive than a seemingly perfect teen taking perfect seeming pictures of herself. But what is art? Is Instagram art?
If this Australian teen were making paintings of herself instead of snapping selfies, would it have more merit as art and therefor less responsibility to reality? Does effort define the line between art and a lie? Certainly a lot of effort went into the Jude Law film, but does that make it less deceptive?
There is of course the notion of expectation here. I click on a film without expectation of reality. I go to Instagram expecting to see real(ish) moments. So perhaps we, the audience, are as culpable as the creator. It’s not a big question, but as social media continues to blur the lines between what’s real and what’s imagined, fantasy will continue to replace real life in our minds. So, is that bad?
Only time will tell. But if Photoshopped models have created body image issues for young girls and video games have tainted the minds of young men, how are we supposed to feel?
Maybe the best thing we can all do is take everything we see online with a grain of salt. But isn’t that a waste of the most incredible development in communications in the history of Mankind? I’d love to say I have some answers. But that’s not true. The only things I have right now are questions and a burning desire to have a rich friend I can make outrageous bets with.