Snervous Tyler Oakley

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Snervous Tyler Oakley Movie Poster Image
Intimate docu follows popular YouTube personality on tour.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 82 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Tyler's messages: "At the end of the day, when your family or your community or your school doesn't 'get you,' you can go online and find someone you feel gets you.'" On his show (which covers entertaining pop culture), Tyler hopes to educate his audience about suicide prevention, LGBTQ rights, and inclusiveness. He advocates being the "best version of yourself rather than a second-hand version of someone else."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tyler is an "out and proud" pop culture icon: He accepts and loves himself, family members (despite his/their flaws), friends, and his fans. He's an example of a new breed of celebrity -- a product of fame bestowed upon Internet personalities. His message is inclusiveness and finding one's unique identity. Film shows both parents coming to terms with Tyler's sexual identity and colorful personality, with his mom's early positive attitude and his dad's reluctant, late-coming acceptance. A beloved teacher's understanding and helpfulness is applauded. Some ethnic diversity in background.

Violence
Sex

Gender identity and sexual politics are integral to this film. Discussions about being gay, coming out, and embracing differences. Oakley is an advocate for marriage equality worldwide. No sexual activity.

Language

"F--k" is bleeped on many occasions. Other salty language: "pissed off," "peed myself," "butthole," "s--t," "dammit," "holy crap." References to penises and vaginas, as well as one mention of "gay porn."

Consumerism

Film promotes Tyler Oakley's presence on the Internet and his upcoming book. Encourages potential subscribers. Incidental visuals or mention of McDonald's, Arby's, Biggby coffee shop, VidCon convention.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to a "drinking party." Wine and other alcoholic beverages in background. A toast is delivered. Mention of Tyler's earlier eating disorder.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Snervous Tyler Oakley is a documentary that highlights "the life and times" of a young gay Internet icon, YouTuber Tyler Oakley. Oakley is 26 and has a subscriber base of more than seven million followers. His upbeat blog, which covers pop culture and gender politics and advocates for acceptance, self-awareness, and inclusion, is a colorful, Pee-wee Herman-esque compilation of videos, stories, gossip, and "slumber party" celebrations, which appeal to teens worldwide. The film follows Oakley on a sold-out performance tour that takes him to cities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. He interacts with his BFF (who is also his producing partner), his parents, his staff, and many of his fans. Integrated into the tour are the young man's reflections on his childhood, coming out, his family, and the reality of turning a personal blog into an Internet sensation. Though each time "f--k" is uttered it's bleeped, there's some occasional profanity and racy language ("s--t," "butthole," "penis," "vagina," "pissed off").

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What's the story?

In SNERVOUS TYLER OAKLEY, the audience goes on tour with a popular Web hero, from Dublin to London to Vancouver and throughout the U.S.A. ("snervous," Tyler explains, is a combination of "scared" and "nervous"). It's been only eight years since Tyler Oakley posted a video in his college dorm. What he set in motion has led him to fame, fortune, and a reputation as one of the Internet good guys. The film travels with Tyler as he takes his "Slumber Party" sensation on the road. Dressed in an array of colorful onesies (from fluffy animals to psychedelic prints) and with some of his most revered accomplices, not the least of whom is Jackie, his supportive mom, Tyler delights screaming fans with meet-and-greets, stories, videos, gossip, giggles, and sketches set in a comfy setting on stage. We see only brief glimpses of the events' content; the film focuses on the travel, show preparation, and camaraderie of Oakley's team, with his rabid fans in the background. Wearing his gayness as a badge of honor, Tyler simply "hangs out," playfully preaching individuality, tolerance, and kindness. A detour mid-tour takes him to his hometown in Michigan, at which time the audience gets a clear picture of what it was like for Tyler growing up, specifically including both parents' reactions to his coming out.   

Is it any good?

If getting an in-depth peek at Tyler Oakley, young YouTuber extraordinaire, is on your kids' or family's bucket list, this film will be very satisfying. It will thrill his existing fan base and encourage plenty of new followers. It was inevitable that the new pop culture stars of the Web would venture into more traditional entertainment arenas, and this is an early example of a documentary designed for this specific audience. Tyler proudly exclaims, "I don't sing. I don't dance. I have no films, no skills. I'm a personality, not an artist." But he's an engaging personality; and, given that he is an out and proud gay icon, it's clear that Tyler’s audience is made up of all kinds of kids. There's a wholesome vibe in all the silliness and exuberance. And the moments devoted to his heartfelt reflections on a time in his early life when sexual orientation was a challenge only make his current happiness and success more poignant.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the meteoric rise of celebrities on the Internet. Which, if any, of these personalities do you follow? What appeals to you about them specifically? How do you interact with them? Do you see this new phenomenon as positive or a negative in our culture?

  • Tyler Oakley says, "At the end of the day ... you can go online and fine someone you feel 'gets you.'" What does he mean by this? How is this statement relevant for you?

  • Have you considered creating a blog? What would it include? How would it represent the person you are?

  • What has Tyler Oakley's stardom enabled him to do? Do you think he makes the most of his fame? How do you see him and his website growing?

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