By the BTR Editorial Staff
Photo by Anthony Quintano.
As Taylor Swift noted in a recent op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, the latest casualty of the Digital Age is autographs. No longer does the adoring public want evidence they met someone famous by obtaining their signature. Nope, it’s “pics or it didn’t happen,” as the saying goes.
In fact, according to Aspirational, a short film by Matthew Frost starring Kirsten Dunst, the extinction of autographs is symbolic to the end of the screaming, sensational, and the particularly grateful fan.
Frost’s film depicts Dunst in a drive-by social-media assault. One morning, two deliberately aloof Kardashian-wannabe socialites approach the actress. They barely greet her with a “hello” before asking for a selfie. When Dunst asks whether they want to talk or anything, they respond with a vapid request for her to tag them on Facebook–for extra proof.
The film is one in a series of shorts by Frost that pull apart our new media landscape, and the roles that celebrity and self-promotion are playing in the technological sea changes therein. Others include Scripted Content starring Jessica Chastain, and another hilarious sketch starring Kate Winslet in Best Actress of All Time.
Matthew DeMello of the Third Eye Weekly podcast on BTR got Frost on the phone earlier this week to talk about the inspiration behind Aspirational, discussing its title and social implications.
BreakThru Radio (BTR): To begin, was there any single event that inspired Aspirational or was this short film based on a true story of any kind?
Matthew Frost (MF): Actually it is. A friend of mine, who basically is an actor [has] done a couple of things lately that have garnered some attention. I was with him in New York and some people came up to him and then they sort of left. Then some other people came up within the same couple of minutes.
He just says to me, “They just don’t even want to talk anymore, they just don’t even care… they don’t want to even know about anything that you’re doing… they just want to get the picture.”
I was watching them… putting it on Instagram or tweeting it. Immediately, I thought was a funny thing. And months later, when I had the opportunity to do this project with Kirsten with Iconoclastic, we were thinking of things that we can do, and it popped into my head again.
So it was inspired by a real thing. And I asked her when I sent it to her, “Does this ever happen to you?” [she responded,] “All the time.”
BTR: Wow. The element of not even saying “Hi,” not even being like, “Oh my God, I’m a fan of you, I’m so glad to meet you, would you please take a picture?”–just that element of going right up and asking for the picture, that [situation] especially happens all the time?
MF: Well, I think that if it’s maybe just a little “Hi”, saying, “Is it okay?” maybe that happens.
This is a dramatization and a caricature of a situation obviously–for the sake of the dramatization of the short film. But even if it’s a couple of words exchanged, I feel the point is that there’s a change in the behavior from [asking for signatures versus] the instant gratification of just putting [a photo] out there on social media.
BTR: I saw a lot of press for this video, and [after] reviewing all of what was said about it, [it seems that] some publications tend to focus on the fact that it was about the selfie or the social network.
Do you think that if there’s any critique in here… [that] lands more on the social network aspect of our celebrity interactions now, or more the selfie aspect?
MF: I think in truth it was interesting to read some of the different articles [that wrote] how Kirsten Dunst is now an advocate of “the anti-selfie campaign guide;” “A Hollywood A-lister–this is her PSA;” “anti-selfie PSA;” “It’s the anti-Kardashian actress…”
[Aspirational] provided some kind of commentary towards this new set of behavior that people have that is now widely accepted.
BTR: I also wanted to ask you about the title of the film, which I found kind of curious.
You name it Aspirational and I found that interesting because neither girl in the video, the fans, seem like they’re particularly big fans of Kirsten Dunst. They’re not going up to her saying, “Oh my God, you’re Kirsten Dunst, I love this movie you did, I loved Marie Antoinette, would you please take a picture with me?”
So where did that title come into play? What does it mean for you in regards to the subject here?
MF: As a director I thought it was always entertaining to hear the marketing charge–jargon that creeps into the discussion every time I work on a commissioned piece…
There’s one with Jessica Chastain called Scripted Content. A lot of brands and companies were really interested in [the notion of] “scripted content” so they kept repeating “scripted content, scripted content” as if some marketing experts came and made them teach in all these companies to… get them up to speed with what the internet needs from them.
Aspirational was a continuation of those keywords that I’d hear over and over that describe the customer that they’re targeting. That is creating something that is a little bit unattainable to them, to propel them forward, towards the brand.
[The video has] these two girls who don’t necessarily, like you said, aspire to be Kirsten Dunst herself, but they definitely aspire to have her popularity in a way.
This content has been edited for clarity. To hear the whole interview with Matthew Frost, check out this week’s episode of the Third Eye Weekly podcast, only on BreakThru Radio.