Tragedy Girls is a sharply written and perfectly cast film that exploits today’s social media obsessed culture with funny and frightening consequences.
The horror comedy Tragedy Girls (Tyler MacIntyre, 2017) follows bloggers Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) known online as you guessed it, the Tragedy Girls. Desperate for online fame, the girls kidnap an actual serial killer, so they can learn the ropes, before going on their own murderous spree. Their in-depth coverage of the murders makes their blog insanely popular, giving them the online and IRL fame that they crave.
As the horror genre is wont to do, Tragedy Girls addresses a societal fear; the fear that younger generations are addicted to social media and the fear of the consequences of this addiction. Sadie and McKayla are glued to their phones for most of the film, and they even say in so many words that they want to be famous online.
In one scene, dejected after serial killer Lowell’s refusal to help them, Sadie remarks how the pair will never be legends without a psycho-killer saying, “Sometimes I just feel like nothing I do matters. Like I’m not special.”
Us Generation Y-ers (or Millennials) being addicted to the Internet and social media is not a new idea; many an article has “revealed” this to the previous generations time and time again like it’s some new revelation. YouTube celebrities like PewDiePie and Zoella have inadvertently inspired many smaller creators with the lure of Internet fame – myself included.
As a YouTuber – or HorrorTuber, as I like to call myself – I found Sadie and McKayla to be extremely relatable characters. The girls just want their blog to be popular and to have millions of Twitter followers, to which I say, “SAME.”
In her review of Tragedy Girls, writer Haleigh Foutch comments on the climate of Internet culture: “It may not be a particularly unique sentiment to suggest that social media supports a culture of vanity and self-aggrandizing detachment, but it is a very accurate and frightening one, and we’re only now starting to see how far-reaching the effects will be.”
Screenwriters Tyler MacIntyre and Chris Lee Hill explore the possibility that this vanity and detachment caused by extensive social media use could have dangerous consequences.
Writer Kaitlyn Tiffany, in her review of Tragedy Girls, argues that this sentiment isn’t necessary and notes the importance of the gender of our titular characters: “It’s hard to imagine anything less in need of a feature-length satirization than the sentiment that young women are narcissistic and grossly dedicated to hollow benchmarks of success and admiration […] But their obsession with social media fame is never explained, implying that it doesn’t have to be — girls just are this way.”
Personally, I find it a bit of a stretch that girls are more susceptible to narcissism; the film could have just as easily had two male leads. Really, any Millennial-age character would do, because the idea MacIntyre and Hill are presenting is that today’s youth are dangerously addicted to the Internet. For this reason, I don’t think it is necessary to provide a reason for Sadie’s and McKayla’s online addiction; it’s understood and absolutely in need of “feature-length satirization.”
Another very famous YouTuber is Logan Paul who, very infamously vlogged while exploring the restricted area of Aokigahara (aka The Suicide Forest) in Japan. On his adventure, Paul and his friends came across the body of a suicide victim, filmed them up close, and posted the video on YouTube, where it reached the number six spot in the trending page.
While everyone, excluding his devoted fans, completely blame Paul for his complete lack of judgment or respect, I think it’s important to point out the part Internet culture played in what he did.
The Internet and social media sites make it incredibly easy to connect with people or grow a following all over the world. Nowadays, there are tons of social media outlets, bloggers, YouTubers, online news sites — and our attention span is forever dwindling. To get and keep viewers’ attention, clickbait video titles and thumbnails have become commonplace. Because, in a world full of people trying to be the next big thing on the Internet, you must stand out.
So, if you think about it, Logan Paul is not all that different from Sadie and McKayla. But instead of murdering people like the Tragedy Girls, Paul just went out and found someone who was already dead.
Director Tyler MacIntyre hit the nail on the head with Tragedy Girls.
Young adults are addicted to the Internet, some see Internet celebrities, famous vloggers, and social media influencers and want the same kind of fame. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to be famous for posting videos of your life on the Internet? MacIntyre simply explores this idea and the lengths that some people, like Logan Paul, will go to gain that fame.