The star is the mobile: when the ‘smartphone’ matters as much as the actors

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Series like ‘I could destroy you’ and films like ‘Spree’ delve into the way in which each new technology is annihilating our privacy.
It could destroy you , the HBO series written, directed and performed by Michaela Coel, has become not only the sensation of this season, but an official representative of a new genre: cellphone realism, that is, a contemporary subgenre in which the Action is dictated by smartphones. Through Arabella, anemerging successful millennial writerwho is raped after having a doctored drink in a London bar, Coel explores the limits of consentand the trauma generated by sexual abuse. And she does it in the least hackneyed way, starting with the name of the bar: Ego Death Bar (Bar Muerte del Ego). And capturing, with the naturalness that allows you not to have known anything else, the blurred boundaries between online life and the real life of twentysomethings today. Or, rather, that there are no borders anymore, and that the personalities that you are sowing in this application or another are as much a part of you as you are yourself. Which, as Michaela Coen tells us, causes a festival of chain reactions and many times simultaneous.

The trend has already been certified by Spree : a horror film directed by Eugene Kotlyarenko and starring a misfit boy (Joe Kerry, famous for Stranger things ) who in his desperate search for followers , ends up transforming into a murderous psychopath. In the film, Kerry becomes the driver of an Uber-like app , places cameras in his car, and records how he murders his clients: influencers , ted talks computer scientists , famous comedians … Everything takes place in the format of live streams,Live broadcasts with which you have direct contact with your followers. Kerry hyperdocuments each of the murders. It says: “If you’re not broadcasting it online, you don’t exist.”

Perhaps the most obvious antecedent to mobile realism would be the underrated Gossip girl , created in 2007, in which the intimate details of a group of privileged teenagers on New York’s Upper East Side were revealed through an anonymous blog. Each update was fired at the characters’ mobiles, generating rivalries, rivers of teenage tears, and conspiracies of all kinds. His gossip was testimony to the technological evolution of the last two decades: castanet mobiles, flipphones, blackberriesor the first iPhone. All of them, instruments to turn a secret into a throwing weapon: the adventures and misadventures Blair Waldorf, Serena van der Woodsen and Chuck Bass between the Hamptons and Park Avenue introduce two new characters, the Internet and mobile notifications, which function as irresistible information bombs against privacy.
What sets Could Destroy You apart is that, in it, the characters no longer have privacy to protect. They are confused and exhausted in a hyper-accelerated and precarious London. They are unable to communicate clearly in real life, and social media and dating apps mess things up even more. They live in constant emotional exploitation due to big data, turning their privacy into a bargaining chip. In one of the flashbacksIt shows an abuse committed on an Arabella high school classmate, recorded with one of the first camera phones. Perhaps one of Coel’s great discoveries is to capture that moment of dangerous naivety, in which we embrace the first motives to let them mediate our sexuality, our traumas, our memory and our aspirations.

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