A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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 ...
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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