status kill: the world’s first social network action hero
Agent Denton Sparks is good at his job, so long as there is nothing on his favourite social network, TweetFacester, to distract him. Status Kill is a web series created by New Yorker Jesse Cowell who, much like his protagonist, is obsessed with social media of all kinds.
Through nine episodes released at fortnightly intervals, the program tackles a different specific quirk of social media each time, ranging from event invitations, vaguebooking, to checking in. A writer, producer and the director of content on My Damn Channel, Cowell tells us about the motivation and social insights behind his series.
‘I really love Facebook, Twitter and the rest’, Cowell explains, ‘but I am often baffled by the ways in which people use these tools. I think because we approach it from so many different vantage points and each see it for different purposes, it has quickly become a wild west of social etiquette. From one person’s obsession with political rants, to another person’s over sharing of their cat photos – I think it is ripe for commentary.’
The series follows Agent Sparks (Alyinde Howell) as he attempts to successfully complete secret missions, from assassinating a target to protecting the local Mayor from a known threat. With both action and sci-fi elements, we see him plan, prepare, gear up…and then fail as a window pops up in thin air as a friend invites him to ‘come hear me read poetry’ or ‘I’m going to get drunk and throw up on myself’.
Sparks goes from entertained, to irked, to outright enraged as the notifications pile up, but not once does he consider turning off the program altogether – and therein lies the hook of the program. We can all relate to what he’s complaining about, but we all just keep heading back for more.
When asked if a program like Status Kill allows people to laugh at themselves, Cowell tells us, ‘I am guilty of many of the things that I poke fun at in the show, so it starts with me laughing at myself’. He goes on to say, ‘I think it’s a great way to point the finger and chuckle, but also raise the hand in knowing that you are the one tagging hundreds of people in photos.’
Sure, while most of us are not secret agents in a futuristic reality where social media can happen without a phone or a computer, it’s still fairly safe to assume that we all have at least one friend who checks in to a new place every three minutes (Episode 7: Checking In). Or who constantly uploads the same type of picture over and over again (Episode 6: Way too Cute). Or who is a tag fanatic (Episode 2: Don’t Tag Me Bro).
Social media has become a large part of life in our society, in a rapid and expanding way. We’ve moved from procrastibaking to procrastinetting, and when asked about whether social media is actually slowing a lot of people down and preventing them from doing what they need to do day to day, Cowell thinks that is a cross interaction that is invasive and an aid to productivity through helping us feel connected in situations where we otherwise may not.
He explains ‘there have been studies that argue that work productivity is actually increasing – maybe people feel more comfortable being able to have some sort of connection while at work. Personally, I think it may increase [the] speed at which you multitask, but decrease the speed of tasks that need dedicated focus.’
‘One of the reasons I made the project was to hopefully get people talking more about the topic. I think the social nuances and the way it is affecting us is important,’ he says.
Through satire and a few outrageous situations, Status Kill takes what we all know and implants it into a scenario we can feel removed enough from in order to laugh at the people we interact with online, and, let’s face it, ourselves. So, check in at your computer, minimise the picture of the cats acting like people and watch as Agent Sparks balances neutralising a terrorist scenario with keeping up with “liking” his ‘Happy Birthday!’ posts. Because Facebook wasn’t already distracting enough.(Image credit)