Last week I posted the first part of this article about the special breed of over-photographed, hysterically-stylized, privacy-bereft human advertisements for late-model capitalism known as Instagram influencers. After covering several celebrity makeup artists and K-Pop phenomenons, two more categories became blindingly apparent to me as being part of the larger Instagram influencer problem, which is the fact that influencers present absurdly commercialized, blow-dried, de-clawed, hot-waxed, jet-polished, ultra-hydrated and patently unrealistic versions of human life as we know it, because they are full-time walking, talking shills of the major corporate entities who endorse them.
Mommy Bloggers Whose Lives Make Parenting Look Impossibly Easy and Clean
LAUREN CONRAD / @laurenconrad / 5.9 m followers
Another woman with her own beauty line, every photo Lauren Conrad posts is visually overwashed, sunbleached, beachy and pastel, as if suffused with light from a larger sun. She takes overexposed pictures of her precious children in cozy white sweaters. She grows her own vegetables and displays baby pumpkins and spring onions on clean white dishes on clean white tablecloths. Look, a towheaded toddler holding an ear of corn! Oh, what a creative layeredbirthday cake for her 3-year-old, casually, haphazardly frosting-shmeared around the sides (like she just whipped it ‘round with the spatula in one flamenco flourish) and covered with micro-greens and plastic dinosaurs to look like a jungle on top. She celebrated pride month by making a miniature rainbow out of wildflowers. She has Maya Angelou quotes laid out in formal typesetting like a wedding invitation. She makes natural dyes with avocado pits and cabbage. She serves fresh challa bread on a bed of shredded tea-roses. She is the status Mommy’s living embodiment of the Shabby Chic trend favored by former trophy-wives with beach houses extorted from their financier husbands by aggressive divorce lawyers.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON LAUREN CONRAD’S IG FEED:
Lauren Conrad’s world lacks darkness, contrast and edge. She needs to embrace the worlds of Goth and film noir. I want to see pictures of Lauren snarling with some permanently dental-bonded fangs on her eyeteeth, wearing a black latex catsuit in an open coffin filled with motor oil, or crying and smoking in a cramped room under a naked lightbulb behind a set of Venetian blinds, or wild-eyed, swinging a crowbar at a mid-attack German Shepherd. It would give her some street credibility.
STEFFY /@steffy / 367K followers
Steffy is a very attractive, model-thin woman with long blonde hair in upstate New York who seems to be trafficking in a Martha Stewart-esque ability to transform living spaces into cozy havens full of boiled wool Pendleton blankets and cognac-colored leather couches like a pricey Vermont ski-lodge.
There are a lot of adorable pictures of her wearing hand-knit hats and mukluks, holding mugs of hot beverage.
Her children wear knit animal ears. Her marriage looks aggressively happy. Somebody must have told her she was an “Autumn” at some point, because her IG feed is all scenes of a certain color palette - persimmon, cinnamon, oatmeal and ochre. She makes laudable mom goals like “spending 1000 hours a year” outside with her children Hudson and Charlie, much of which is meticulously recorded in front of scenic lighthouses. “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations,” she writes in an assured New Age voice over a picture of herself walking down a snowy road in a spaghetti-strapped gold ballgown and high heels. “Think of how RESILIENT you are…”
All in all, her entire presentation looks like she should be the face for a pharmaceutical product that promises freedom from some kind of exploding bowel disorder.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON STEFFY’S IG FEED:
There are not nearly enough exploding diapers, toddler croup, refusals of marital sex, mothers-in-law, plastic toy squalor, dirty dishes, crayon on the walls or iPad tantrums for Steffy’s life to resemble the ordeal of actual motherhood. I’d love to see video of her having a screaming fit over muddy boot-prints on her bedroom quilt, crying in the principle’s office when she is told her older son exposed himself to a pair of twins in a lower grade, or throwing mugs at her husband when she catches him looking at nude policewoman photos.
SECTION 4: BRITISH INTERNET STARS THAT INSPIRE A DESIRE TO WATCH THEM BE PUBLICLY PELTED WITH SOFT GARBAGE
CASPAR LEE / @Caspar_Lee/ 2.6m followers
Caspar Lee is an obnoxiously successful YouTuber who made his bones asking adorable children about strange topics like aliens and death.
He looks like a boy-band member, and does a lot of puppy holding.
Caspar Lee’s IG life includes smug yoga, profligate displays of public affection with his diminutive blonde girlfriend Ambar Driscoll (who likes to expose her tawny buttocks in short-shorts and thong bikinis). She rides piggyback on him in a lot of photos. He bench-presses her and otherwise tosses her around like a Nerf sex doll.
The two of them lead a charmed life. They travel to South Africa and do exercises together. They do a lot of ecstatic skiing. Disney flew them to Kenya to celebrate the release of The Lion King. Ralph Lauren dresses them for red carpet engagements and attending Wimbledon matches.
Lee is the founder of “Influencer,” a marketing platform for social influencers; he has many paid partnerships, including Walker’s Crisps, the Audi electric car, and Hotels.com.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON CASPAR LEE’S IG FEED
Since Caspar Lee looks like the most milquetoast, bubblegum-pop, over-coddled Mama’s boy since Rick Astley wore a ruffly white dress to his own Christening, I feel his persona could be positively rounded-out with some Guy Ritchie-style pistol-whipping. “This is for the electric car, bitch!” he might yell at someone filling up a Detroit straight-eight with unleaded, before coldcocking the driver with the butt of a decommissioned M3A1 grease gun and humming away from the scene in his soundless Audi.
JOE SUGG / @Joe_Sugg/ 5.4m followers
Actor, singer, tall hair-haver and sunglass wearer Joe Sugg, the little brother of influencer Zoe Sugg, is virtually indistinguishable from Caspar Lee to the untrained eye — except for the fact that his super-hot girlfriend, Dianne (@diannebuswell), has dyed crimson hair. Joe Sugg attained YouTube superstardom with his channel, “Thatcher Joe,” which has 7.73 million subscribers. In his videos, he is an elfin gamer and kooky prankster who likes to fool around on an electric guitar. He has a talent for mimicry, particularly of American cartoon characters. Joe met his comely girlfriend when they were contestants on “Strictly Come Dancing” in the UK. They hang out in pumpkin patches during the fall, and lounge on top of their cherried-out vintage Volkswagen bus named “Chippy” enjoying beautiful country sunsets. They sip cocktails together on Mykonos. They write each other public mash-notes on Instagram. They dance in meadows of yellow flowers. They kiss in front of the Eiffel Tower.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON JOE SUGG’S IG FEED
The frictionless coupledom featured on both Joe Sugg’s and Caspar Lee’s IG feed is so entirely insufferable it’s like watching all four of them shave each other in public fountains. I personally would like to see both couples undergoing the same NO EXIT-style, interpersonal Sartreian headfuck as the guys in Metallica, who need constant adult supervision from a trained psychiatric professional to stand each other even in small doses. It might make their relationships look more genuine.
OLIVER PROUDLOCK / @proudlock / 689K followers
Proudlock is a reality TV personality who calls himself an “artist,” on his IG profile, yet his IG feed is conspicuously devoid of “art.”
Proudlock looks like an errant member of Duran Duran, with boyishly abundant hair of various heights, and pronounced abdominal muscles.
He shows off his various cross-training exercises, leaping around the screen with catlike precision in little exercise outfits. He can be found shirtless in his kitchen, showing off a pan of exotic Indonesian street-food, smiling with his large, blue-white teeth.
He photographs his daily outfits. He sometimes daringly wears pearls and favors baggy velour and terrycloth track suits.
The people he associates with - his Bros — seem to be the type of guys with a lot of money that never got beat up enough in school.
He is an expert promotional whore, who variously promotes Jaguars, whiskey, Gucci loafers, POLO, Paco Rabanne perfumes, Superdry, BOSS, Estee Lauder Night Repair moisturizer, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Motorola, and others.
He has a beautiful wife, another IG influencer named Emma (@emmalouiseconnolly), who looks like Jessica Biel. They are photographed hanging around on beds wearing plush new bathrobes. They canoodle in front of seascapes with half-drunk glasses of red wine. They kiss in cobblestoned alleys in Italy. They feed each other ice-cream while laughing. Their life together looks like a commercial for American Express, if American Express was a credit card exclusively for dim bourgeois gym-slaves with power-sculpted hair.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON OLIVER PROUDLOCK’S IG FEED:
If Proudlock is going to insist he is an “artist,” and not merely a hipster product gigolo, I’d like to see him doing some actual art of the conceptual variety popularized by Chris Burden, which is similar to the kind of stunts Johnny Knoxville pulled on Jackass.
Proudlock could re-do a Burden piece and be crucified on a Volkswagen, or perhaps be shot in the crotch with various harmful projectiles.
Even a beard of hornets would lend him a bit of the laid-back masculinity his persona lacks; right now he looks like the kind of guy who would have a screaming fit if his birthday cake was decorated with the wrong nasturtiums.
ZOE SUGG / @zoesugg / 9m followers
A multi-millionaire YouTuber from the UK in her mid-20’s, Zoe, a squeaky-clean young Brit, has long corkscrew blond hair and big wet eyes like a Japanese cartoon. Her YouTube fame is due to her chirpy, personable, so-edgeless-as-to-be-almost-explicitly-Christian videos, with titles like “Baking An Epic Chocolate Cake” and “Couples Christmas Crafts.” On her unbearably dull vlog, she oversplains personal things like why she hasn’t washed her hair that day.
Zoe Sugg does wholly inoffensive Hallmark-card seasonal things on her IG feed like hang out in motherfucking pumpkin patches. She looks, in all photos, as if she should have a talk-balloon saying “Am I not SO fucking adorable?”
Zoe thrills her followers with upbeat, inspirational quotes like “A person who has good thoughts can never be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double-chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
In 2014, the height of her fame, she released a book aimed at teenagers called “Girl Online” which outsold JK Rowling the first month. Since her entire brand was built on being “authentic,” she lost many fans when it was revealed that she had used a ghost-writer.
Many of her IG shots include her comely boyfriend Alfie. The two of them look smug together in French sailor shirts on expensive beaches. She charges £20,000 for an IG post, and has several multi-million dollar endorsement deals.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE ON ZOE SUGG’S IG FEED
Since Zoe Sugg has ostensibly built herself to be an entirely edgeless, G-rated, cookie-cutter tween commodity, what she really needs to kick herself into the Kardashian stratosphere is a better-produced scandal, like a “misplaced” porn tape. She and her adorable boyfriend Alfie might “leave” it in a broken camcorder in a trashed hotel room, surrounded by burnt tinfoil and empty vodka jugs.
CONCLUSION: WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT INSTAGRAM STARS:
Since IG is owned by Facebook, on this earth, it will probably outlive rice. We will not be free of these people anytime soon. Naming and shaming all 40 million influencers with over a million followers will be difficult, but if we made it a mandate in public schools for children 8-15, as a society working together, we might make a dent. Until then, ignoring them might be the best policy.