The world of social media influencers, like the world of old movie stars, used to be opaque and intriguing. The glittery costumes and scenic pictures combined with a body screaming, "Perfection!" used to make us wonder, "What's the job description of an influencer, and can I be one of them?" But we soon became overexposed to these social media stars, and that mysterious aura just fizzled out. Now, the perfection displayed by the influencers looks artificial. We are no longer shocked by the fact that these "celebrities" starve themselves to achieve a flawless figure. That they don't even use the products they advertise on their Instagram pages. At a time when people are already starting to see influencers as poseurs (and there are many movies out there exposing their fake lifestyle), the initial portions of Celebrity come across as banal.
What happens is that Seo A-ri (Park Gyu-young), an e-celebrity, informs her followers and us about specific cheat codes that one must follow to gain online followers. Some of those tricks are platitudinous. For instance, we are told that you can buy followers. Well, duh. Basically, you will be disappointed if you expect originality from this show. It presents clichés as amusements. Yoon Jeong-sun (Park Ye-ni), A-ri's friend, mentions that a row between influencers is similar to the third world war. Oh Min-hye (Jun Hyo-seong), an influencer, takes a photo of her husband when he brings cake for her and uploads it on her account by giving it sweet captions. But she refuses to eat the cake or drink juice as these things would negatively impact her health (one item will make her fat while the other contains sugar).
I am not saying that social media stars don't actually act like Min-hye, but Celebrity's depiction of these moments feels insincere. It seems as if someone is showing us how they think an influencer lives and behaves in private and in front of others. Perhaps, this is why, A-ri's rivals are reduced to caricatures. Their speech, expressions, and gestures are exaggerated. Celebrity also portrays the rich through the lens of a commoner. Hence, you get that line about wealthy people doing drugs for fun. Then again, one shouldn't expect accuracy from a show like this. It's nothing but trash, consisting of some enjoyable moments, like a poker game between A-ri and an opponent.
The framing device here is A-ri's livestream, where she confesses the truth to her followers. When the show gets tiring, you ask questions like, "If the story is told through A-ri's perspective, how are we able to watch some private conversations between other characters?" To be honest, the drama here is bland and unremarkable. It's reduced to an embellishment to grab our eyeballs. Every beat and every development is treated as a filter, which is why the whole series ultimately feels superficial. Points like A-ri's death and a mysterious account are inserted to elevate the excitement and to distract us from the fact that Celebrity is marked by emptiness.
It would have been nice if the series contained some amount of suspense. A-ri is continuously established as a smart character, and we are told early on that she has "come back from death." Because of this, we don't feel tense when she comes across obstacles, as we don't doubt she will overcome them by any means possible. A-ri is an...interesting character. She mocks social media and celebrity culture but becomes the very thing she despises. In one of the episodes, she posts she isn't concerned with likes, but then she only experiences elation after receiving, well, likes. Turns out, A-ri is not so different from a normal individual. It's easy to criticize influencers, though I don't think there is anyone who would deny having their status their privileges.
The performances are nothing to write home about. They are as watchable and appealing as a heavily edited social media post. The actors are easy on the eyes and don't bring anything exceptional to the table. They simply act as per the ongoing mood and communicate nothing beyond whatever's fed to them. You can label Celebrity as dumb fun. It's not terrible. However, it's also not very addictive or appealing either. It's mediocre stuff, airbrushed to be palatable to the audience.
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