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Friendship and Social Media in ‘Bodies, Bodies, Bodies’

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Prior to watching this movie, I knew two things: Charli XCX’s promotional single for the film and the drama between cultural critic Lena Wilson and Amandla Stenberg over petty DMs. Hot Girl (Bodies Bodies Bodies) had already been on my Spotify rotation for a while now. As for the controversy, I knew that a cultural critic from The New York Times had recently come under heat after attempting to condemn the film for being a “95-minute advertisement for cleavage”, and the subsequent backlash sparked by her comments. This cross-media activity, partnered with the allure of a movie I hadn’t been spoiled beforehand, set the precedent for the realization I had mid-way through: Oh, this movie is about social media and friendship.

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, directed by Halina Reijn, is an unnerving and chaotic film about having a bad trip with your friends. A small but star-studded cast drives the story within the confinements of an isolated mansion during a storm. After a power outage, the characters lose all contact with the online world, which strips our Gen-Z characters from the virtual safe space of the internet and social media. The movie is soaked with references of current trends, to the point where they might seem obnoxious when not acknowledging their purpose.

Social media serves as a cultural stimulant. Our friends are now content creators, the public is versed in identifying toxic people and calling out gaslighting, and astrology is now the most personal signifier—all of which are themes explored in the film. These are not bad in and of themselves, but social media and its algorithmic design coerces people into a sense of omnipresent responsibility. We need to support our content-creating friends, beware of gaslighters and other toxic people, and uphold astrology (in various levels of seriousness) as a valid tool in analyzing the people we interact with.

The film’s climactic argument between Alice (Rachel Sennott) and Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) reveals the accumulated tensions that were set up from the beginning of the story. It’s revealed Jordan “hate-listens” to Alice’s podcast, Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) expresses discomfort with the racist stereotypes aimed at her drug use, all while Bee (Maria Bakalova) internalizes Sophie’s infidelity. It’s a conversation that could’ve been constructive had it happened beforehand. The scene is tense, chaotic, and tragic while still being humorous.   

It’s easy for people to cast Bodies, Bodies, Bodies off as merely an attempt to appeal to Gen-Z, but its commentary on these current social dynamics turns the film into a fresh take on this age of self-awareness and social media engagement. It’s not about being a “good” person or friend, more so than appearing as such. All relationships face conflict eventually, and appropriately confronting it is necessary for those relationships to grow. Not doing so is the equivalent of continuing to do TikTok dances and ending up with a dead friend group over a misunderstanding.

Political scientist with an affinity towards pop culture and media analysis, currently pursuing adventures in journalism.