While YouTube was being taken over by makeup artists with complex gender pronouns, pre-pubescent gamer millionaires and Q-Anon trolls, Instagram grew like a second, attention-starved head on the Facebook monster, creating a new breed of internet celebrity which has dovetailed a merged into, and in some cases surpassed the old conventional celebrities of television and film.
Influencers — people with millions of online followers — are highly commercialized, fully branded human beings whose mates become props and whose private lives are backdrops for a firehose-level output of stylized selfies. They have transformed body and spirit into attention-sucking flytraps, attracting absurdly lucrative sponsorships. The Instagram influencer market was estimated to have approached $2.3 billion in 2020; some sponsored Instagram influencers make up to $800,000 a post.
It is the slide-show corollary to reality TV; these “people” invite you into their overperfected, casual “lives” in order to “share” their heavily paid “recommendations” with you. Most end up looking and sounding like they were kidnapped and brainwashed by a Condé Nast New Age cult and are now committed to living their lives imprisoned in overproduced magazine shoots and dispensing wisdom about how to attain an unceasing level of daily happiness that has historically been impossible within the human condition.
According to the HBO documentary “Fake Famous” (executive produced by Graydon Carter) children today say they want to be famous influencers more than any other occupation. Over 40 million people have over a million followers on Instagram.
Over 100 million people have over 100 thousand followers.
Instagram fame is not fame, says ex-famous person Justine Bateman. It has been labeled incorrectly. If you are an influencer, says Bateman,
“You are an infomercial host.”
If you don’t care and haven’t been paying attention, these culturally vital international trendsetters will have gone unnoticed by you, because “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” or subjecting yourself to the dismally retrograde sexual mores of “The Bachelor,” makes you feel as if you are being waterboarded with a bottle of peach schnapps.
You have had better, more meaningful things to do with your life instead of watching the shallow and pointless spectacles of egregious bourgeoise propaganda that have devoured more thoughtful forms of cultural life, and the sight of aggressive nose-contouring looks about as natural to you on a human face as German measles or a Chewbacca mask. “Why should I care?” You may ask. “I can decorate my own fucking Christmas tree. I don’t need to compete with professionally airbrushed drag queens when applying makeup. Why would I subject myself to looking at other people’s vacation photos, or plates of their herb linguini? Why would I want to live vicariously through these pre-canned, pre-cored, artificially grown people instead of doing something authentic like sawing apart my own motherfucking pineapple?”
Nonetheless, for the willfully disconnected adult, here is a sampling of the kind of Brave New World of media manipulation and bizarre life-contortion that Instagram influencerdom has to offer, for the sake of general cultural curiosity.
SECTION 1: K-Pop Phenomenons Who Are Human Hello Kitty People
LISA /@lalalalisa_m/ 44m followers
Lalisa Manoban, known as the mononym LISA, is a Thai rapper/singer/dancer.
The advent of K-Pop — a business in which millions of dollars is thrown at a tween performer, which they then need to pay back before they earn any actual money — has brought us BLACKPINK, a girlband sponsored by the megalithic South Korean child slavery corporation known as YG Entertainment.
LISA, a favored member of BLACKPINK, is in her 20’s but looks about nine years old. She has graced numerous magazine covers in pre-teen poses, hugging her pale little knees, playing with her multicolored pigtails, dressed up in Britney Spears-style Catholic gogo outfits. LISA looks like she was birthed from a large pink plastic egg and has never eaten anything but iced animal cookies. She stands in fields of sunflowers. She looks virginally post-coital under trees, laying in grass. Her face is either moodless as a white peach or intentionally adorable, like a baby panda.
She attracts the big money, endorsement-wise, from top luxury brands found in fashion magazines. She wears BVLGARI jewelry, and looks like a forlorn couture, mail-order child bride in CELINE ads. If she manages to continue looking like she hasn’t gone through puberty, she should be around for a while.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON LISA’S IG FEED:
LISA might appear more well-rounded and relatable if she were more drunk. I’d like to see her photographed getting cocktail-sick into a Fendi handbag, or scuffing an economy car in a parking-lot fender-bender and driving away swearing, or passed out leaning on a public fountain surrounded by empty malt-liquor cans. It might lend her mirror-polished image a bit more authenticity.
SECTION 2: People Who Weren’t Born Women But Who Do A Better Job of Looking Like Women Than Women Do
JEFFREE STAR / @Jeffreestar /14.1 m followers
Makeup artists and beauty vloggers occupy an incredible amount of real estate in the world of social media attention. Leader of the pack is self-made squillionaire makeup mogul Jeffree Star, a long, skeletal androgyne who looks like the child of Weird Al Yankovich and Paris Hilton, if that child had been sold to Catholic tattoo-artists as a pre-teen.
Star has deftly tapped into today’s bewildering zeitgeist with both fangs and made it his bitch. His wildly successful line of makeup palettes have kicky, death-driven names like #BLOODMONEY, #BLOODLUST, #ORGY and #CREMATED.
Instagram is where he mythologizes himself with photo shoots celebrating an outrageous, androgynous 90’s rap-star lifestyle in multicolored wigs, surrounded by Louis Vuitton luggage and wearing Gucci track suits, and posing in aviator shades in front of Rolls Royces, or showing off his own custom gull-wing McLarens in cotton-candy pink and Tiffany turquoise. Sometimes he lays around on beds of roses, or sassily flashes his tattooed buttocks in supermarkets, because that’s just how he rolls.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON JEFFREE STAR’S IG FEED:
Since Jeffree is from all appearances an entirely cosmopolitan, inter-galactic, post-gender post-human, I’d like to see him get back to nature by helping birth a goat, or cleaning a dead squirrel out of a rain-gutter, or butching up his look with a long Rick Rubin beard, a lumberjack shirt and a chainsaw. Even just eating a large pastrami sandwich would at least make him look like he lives on something besides exotic flower pollens and infant blood transfusions.
JAMES CHARLES/ @jamescharles/ 25.6m followers
Self-proclaimed beauty guru James Charles is a sultry, enthusiastic, fast-talking young man with large lips and bedroom eyes whose incredible facility with shimmery eye shadow, obsessive-compulsive eyebrow shaping, and expert nose-contouring makes him one of the prettiest faces on social media— he was, in fact, the first male rep of Cover Girl.
He recently appeared on the cover of VOGUE Portugal with fuchsia lipstick smeared off his lips onto his hand, with a stripe of turquoise paint down the bridge of his nose, under a caption reading: JAMES CHARLES: THE BEAUTY OF IMPERFECTION. This is a baffling caption, because James Charles always looks like Princess Stephanie of Monaco, if she had been Ziggy Stardust’s trophy wife, photographed by Bruce Weber.
His eyelids are rare butterflies. His lips shine like nude vinyl. To display his makeup skills, sometimes his eyes appear to be shooting blood, or on fire.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON JAMES CHARLES’ IG FEED:
Jame Charles has his own line of signature hoodies and other sweat-apparel, under the label “SISTERS”, which is spelled out in Gothic script like a cholo tattoo. I would like to see women’s street gangs adopt SISTERS sportswear as their uniform, particularly for swarming and vandalizing rival cosmetic counters in department stores.
NIKKIE DE JAGER / @nikkietutorials / 15m followers
26-year old makeup artist and beauty vlogger Nikkie de Jager is a 6’4” transgender valkyrie with glittery art nails who paints pink cloudscapes on her face and glues rhinestones to her forehead, while looking like a bigger-boned version of Britney Spears.
De Jager has become incredibly powerful on the internet via years worth of peppy YouTube makeup tutorials, in which she of expertly spackles fondant-like thicknesses of heavy concealer onto her wide naked face and transforms the entire shape of her head with various bronzers and contouring agents into high-style visions of sculptural blondism of the Sharon Tate/ vintage Barbie head-variety.
As Global Artistry Advisor to the Mark Jacobs makeup line, de Jager is living well. Her IG feed features pictures of her on location in various glamorous vacation settings with the man in her life, looking extremely happy and rich.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON NIKKIE DE JAGER’S IG FEED:
Since Ms. De Jager’s life appears to be relentlessly glamorous and full of fulfilled love, I’d like to see her ugly-crying in a parked car outside of a BevMo, or getting in a slap-fight with a couple of WNBA players.
Tune in next week when we cover the rest of this article, starting with:
Mommy Bloggers Whose Lives Make Parenting Look Impossibly Easy and Clean
I hope it will be educational.