By Jessica Anne Rose

‘Not Okay’ starring Zoey Deutsch arrived on our screens in July, and quickly gathered traction online. Naturally I was intrigued; I love a film I know no context to in the hope that I can be caught unawares, so I eagerly settled down to watch it. The film opened with a warning: ‘This film contains flashing lights, themes of trauma, and an unlikable female protagonist.’ (“Okay, so it’s every young adult movie out right now,” I thought.) This self-aware line earned a wry smile from me – women in movies are often torn apart, and the movie has done that before the trolls could, and before the characters in the movie could. Very meta. Proceed.


The film follows the uneventful life of Danni, an aspiring online journalist who blends into the background in every aspect of her life (despite the fantastic efforts of the wardrobe team who dress her in unmistakable 2020 fashion). She is apathetic, not particularly talented at any one thing, and her motives are always for attention, specifically influencer Colin’s (Dylan O’ Brien) attention. In a bid to impress him, Danni pulls out Adobe photoshop and fabricates a writer’s retreat in Paris that she supposedly attended. It all goes horrifically wrong when Paris is hit by tragic terrorist attacks, and she is perceived to have survived them.


Danni continues to lie and uses her apathy as a motivation to put herself out there, fuelled with a relentless hunger to be noticed, no matter what for. She sees the harm in what she is doing, yet she persists because she feels that living with guilt and lies is worth it to be perceived as interesting. It’s a really intriguing view into the mind of an internet troll, or an influencer who has fallen from grace and is planning a comeback podcast. It explores the viewer’s own sense of morality as they are left to decide whether Danni deserves forgiveness.


Danni develops a parasocial relationship with her online persona. Her internet success purely exists inside her phone, and she carefully curates this online persona whilst never growing as a real person outside of it. Her possessive infatuation with this version of herself only furthers her sense of meaninglessness and loneliness, and she begins to use everything and everyone around her to satiate it. It cleverly furthers the notion of how detached social media is from reality – the more Danni feeds the algorithm, the more directionless she feels.


Danni: What if I don’t feel angry?

Rowan: Alright, then what do you feel? 

Danni: Well, I don’t know. Numb. Still numb.


Overall, I enjoyed the film. It’s littered with sarcastic jokes and niche Gen Z experiences that make me feel like it was truly written by someone who actually researched the young people they were writing about. It’s a refreshing outlook on social media where nothing and nobody is painted as bad or good, but somewhere in the middle, as we all are. ‘Not Okay’ is a warning to remain authentic online but serves as a reminder that authenticity is not a get-out-of-jail-free-card. It has caused me to metaphorically hold my phone at an arm’s length and to expect that life’s goodness waxes and wanes. Nothing can last forever. But does that still hold true in the internet age?

‘Not Okay’ is available to watch on Hulu, Disney+ and all good illegal streaming sites.

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