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Jawline

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Jawline Movie Poster Image
Eye-opening docu about rising social media star has cursing.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Underscores the highs and lows of social media stardom. Recognizes possibility of exploitation of young people and vulnerability of teen fans. Upbeat messages are heard throughout, delivered by teen media personality: "follow your dreams," "spread positivity," "work hard at something you love; you're gonna get results."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Naive, goodhearted, and determined central character strives hard for success. Media star managers may be deceitful.

Violence
Sex

Teen boys (many bare to waist) frequently hug and comfort teen girls in an aura of innocence. Young man identifies himself as gay.

Language

Numerous instances of "f--k," "s--t." Other curses heard: "screw you," "holy crap," "p---y," "grab by face and make out with me."

Consumerism

Plat's Closet, Lite Beer, Dairy Queen, and social media agencies PomsCon and Digitour.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarettes, vaping. Fan mentions her dad's drug addiction.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jawline is an enlightening, poignant documentary that follows optimistic, hardworking 16-year-old Austyn Tester as he seeks fame on social media. "I want to be a YouTube star" is the new catchphrase for countless young people living in the digital age. Director Liza Mandelup discovered one of those kids in Kingsport, Tenn., and it was her wisdom and/or great luck to decide to film his quest for celebrity. Expect to hear strong language throughout, including "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "crap," and "screw you." There's lots of hugging, quick kisses, and short-lived emotional connections between Tester and his intensely devoted female fans. Though he and other male internet stars are often bare-chested, it generally feels innocent and nonsexual. Kids smoke and vape; a girl mentions her dad's drug addiction.

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What's the story?

Austyn Tester first appears as an energetic, self-motivated social media personality in JAWLINE. From his house in Kingsport, Tennessee, where he lives with his struggling single mom, Austyn is constantly online, broadcasting to a committed fan base of young teen girls who hang on his every word. He counts every "like;" he responds to everyone. Austyn uses his platform to encourage, support, and inspire the girls, feeding off of their enthusiasm, finding joy in every "show." Austyn's goal is to become famous, to tour like many other young teens, to make money and, ultimately, leave his economically and culturally disadvantaged life behind, taking his family with him. His older brother, Donovan, is proud and supportive. Austyn is overjoyed when a "social media managing company" finds him. A welcome new chapter in his adventure begins. Intercut with Austyn's story, the film tracks Michael Weist, a social media entrepreneur who manages other young teens media stars.

Is it any good?

In this funny, sad, and revealing documentary, director Mandelup has found a gentle path; she treats her subjects with kindness and dignity to spare, so that they seem to forget a camera is watching. Jawline, a winner at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, is a surprising film -- a movie that can be labeled "a cautionary tale." As the director follows the eager, often naive kids who're looking for an easy way to fame and fortune, the blissful young girls who are overcome by adoration, and even those who would take advantage of their client's celebrity, no judgments are made. The film is simple, compelling, and heartfelt, a serious look at the relatively new and impactful phenomenon of social media stardom. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the character strengths and skills it takes to mindfully negotiate social networks (i.e., integrityself-control, empathy).

  • Documentaries are intended either to educate, entertain, persuade, and/or inspire. Which category or categories best describe Jawline? Explain your answer.

  • What's your takeaway from this movie? How did you feel about Austyn at the conclusion? What about Michael Weist, the manager? 

  • What do you think motivates the intense devotion of the fans of Austyn and the other teens? What emotions do the boys tap into? Do you think the adulation is a good thing or a bad thing? Why?

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