This is what Andy Samberg's character, Connor 4 Real cries out during one of his concerts as he deals with the fact that his album isn't selling. This isn't a review of The Lonely Island's movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. My review is simply that you should see this movie. Most reviews that you'll read talk about how it isn't This is Spinal Tap. This is true, it's not, because Spinal Tap makes fun of a genre that isn't popular in this generation. This is a movie that analyzes culture today, not the culture of the 80's.
The audience can see how Popstar is a satire on the music industry, and how they poke fun of artists like Macklemore and Tyler the Creator. They make fun of the music documentaries that Justin Bieber and Katy Perry have put out. Although these things are interesting, and the movie totally explores these aspects, it's really the marketing of the celebrity that is completely fascinating about this movie. In today's society it's not enough for artists to make music, but they have to build friendships with their audiences today in order to give the allusion of success. It has become common for us to know more about what happens in a celebrity's life, than it is to know what our real best friends do on a day to day basis.
I love The Rock. I have been a fan of his since his wrestling days in the 90's. I will watch any movie, TV show, guest appearance, anything with The Rock. I follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I could look on my phone and have an idea of what The Rock is doing at this moment in time. I also have friends that I've grown up with, and have remained close to. I couldn't tell you what some of them do at their day job. It's an allusion of friendship. Social media allows us to be a part of the lives of people we have no business being a part of. This is what Popstar presents so well.
Connor is obessed with connecting with his fans. He posts daily videos to his fans that become too personal, makes a television event of his proposal, and tries to play into whatever is hot at the moment to satisfy his fan base. It's not Connor that the fans are connecting with, but this idea or perception of Connor that's being presented to them. Once the real Connor begins writing his own songs, choosing the beats he likes, putting together his performances, Connor becomes more himself, and is no longer an idea, but a real person.
When Connor presents his real self, fans begin to distance themselves, and eventually turn their back on him entirely. Connor is no longer the idea or perception that fans grew close to, but he's an entirely different person. They no longer feel like they're backing the man that they've supported since the beginning with his group, The Style Boyz. Connor has officially become something else entirely. He's become himself. He no longer fits in the box that the media had portrayed him as over the years. Fans need to feel like they're responsible for the success of the celebrity, and once they start breaking away from the box we've put them into, fans become responsible for their failure. That's why it's not until Connor reunites with The Style Boyz that he begins finding success again. Fans put him back into their perception box, and all is right in the world.
Sarah Silverman's character, Paula says,
"We'd like to get to the point where Connor is everywhere - like oxygen or gravity or clinical depression."
She doesn't want Connor to be seen as an artist or a musician, but a celebrity. In the song "2 Banditos," Hunter the Hungry (played by Chris Reed) tells Connor to go back to the chorus in the middle of a verse, because the music truly doesn't matter. The only thing of value is the fan's perception of the celebrity. This is why lip sync battles, charades, beer pong, and other games on The Tonight Show entertains people. It once again builds the illusion of friends playing games with each other. It allows fans to be a part of sitting in their living room and playing Pictionary with Zac Efron.
Fans want more than an entertainer, they need a friend. As society becomes more engaged with social media, it creates a distance between actual human interaction. We create this second life where we can be the coolest versions of ourselves. We tweet our best thoughts, Instagram our best moments, and share our best experiences. We friend celebrities to be a part of our much cooler lives that we share to get out of the routine of our day to day lives. This is why it's important that celebrities seem so relatable to fans. It's why people like Usher, Nas, Adam Levine, Pharrell, and countless others show up in Popstar. They need to relate to fans about how crazy their industry is, and that it's fine to poke fun at it. They're not playing themselves, they're just playing versions of themselves, and that's all people really want.
They want a perception of friendship, and this isn't made any more clear than in the end credit scene with Will Arnett and the CMZ crew. All they want is to talk to someone, to open up about their issues, but it's way more important to have that picture of James Franco leaving a restaurant. We're afraid to dig below the surface because we're all too busy pretending to be cool. There's nothing wrong with this. I enjoy things that can distract me from the difficulties of life. It's still okay to think below the surface though, you can just ask my friend The Rock about it.
Make sure to check out Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping in theaters now, and if you've already checked out the movie, keep the conversation going in the comments below.