Viral Beauty chronicles the rise of fictional social media star Marsha May (Casey Killoran) as she navigates the treacherous waters of the internet, stardom, and her own sanity. Brought to the spotlight by a Perez Hilton repost, Marsha becomes a social media star overnight. As she gains more and more success from a talent manager-led video series, Marsha struggles with her mental fortitude and maintaining her newfound fame.
In a time in our country when empowerment and equality are sought out to be prioritized, beauty is classified in many forms, and social media fame is even more accessible, Viral Beauty fits it all in. Now, more than ever, social media shows us the dangers of overnight celebrity, cyberbullying, and instant gratification, among the few.
“…fictional social media star…navigates the treacherous waters of the internet, stardom, and her own sanity.”
Marsha May is one hell of a character. She’s confident but flawed. She’s funny but scared. She’s trying everything in her power to become the happiest version of herself, despite the forces surrounding her that push her back into the dirt. From short video excerpts of her ranting about her outrageous expectations for a partner to her pet-food-eating meltdown, Killoran shines. Her portrayal of Marsha May is the modern caricature of the “Instagram model.” Between advertisements for miracle weight loss formulas to fixed makeup reviews, social media stars do it all. The character of Marsha May showcases how unexpected and quickly fame can spawn in anyone with an account.
The most significant moments of Marsha are her times alone. When the screen is off, and the camera is no longer rolling, those moments of Marsha just existing in a space with only herself linger long after the credits roll. On some level, we’ve all experienced warranted and unwarranted attention through social media. It’s a predatory addiction that infects anyone with internet access, and Viral Beauty excels in showing the epidemic by live acted comments on every video or picture Marsha post. They range from celebratory, to absolute hatred, to just creepy and weird thoughts. Though some of the jokes didn’t quite stick the landing, the comments were a welcome breather from the sometimes overwhelmingly awkward moments.
“…excels in showing the social media epidemic with live acted comments on every video or picture Marsha post…”
Viral Beauty is about as modern of a film for the digital age as it can get. I enjoyed how dark the film could get in a matter of seconds; It kept me on my toes. There were times when I found the narrative dragging, and some of the dialogue just wasn’t funny (If that was the intention in the first place?). This film would’ve worked on an even more prestigious level if it was condensed into a more bite-size piece of cinema like it’s social media influence. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised that I’d finish with a feeling of satisfaction, or -er, maybe it was the same feeling I get when I finish a long youtube video. Ah, yes.
Viral Beauty (2018) Directed by David Tyson Lam. Written by Elizabeth Lam. Starring Casey Killoran, Perez Hilton, Mark Junek.
7 out of 10