The internet takes on a different texture once everyone around you is sleeping. The world behind the screen expands as the outside world shrinks, becoming a portal to another place. It’s Alice’s Look-Glass by YouTube links. At odd hours, people’s attention is more easily drawn to the strange corners of the Internet, where they can communicate, but indirectly, with others they are also attracted to.
In the charm of Jane Schoenbrunn We all go to the World FairSingle teen Casey (Anna Cobb) spends her time deep in one of those corners. Long after watching videos of other people posting about the World’s Fair, an urban internet legend wraps around a secret rite of passage, she decides to join herself. At the beginning of the movie, she’s sitting in her loft bedroom late at night, lit by the glare of her laptop screen. She follows each step in the ritual: pricks her finger, smears blood on the screen, plays a video clip, and chants three times “I want to go to the World’s Fair.” Then her journey begins – a journey that she documents naturally online, as part of a collective storytelling process.
According to legend, as soon as a person participates in the Global Just Challenge, as it is called, he will begin to change in unexpected and undefined ways. Some of their deepest fears and nightmares will come true. This ritual is just the beginning of the game: participants are supposed to keep posting videos and documenting any changes that occur. In the end, something terrifying may happen. One man becomes an evil clown. Another finds a strange growth on his arm. Casey wonders what might happen to her.
the majority world fair Follow Casey as she makes and watch videos as she descends down the creepypasta rabbit hole. It’s a very secluded movie – Casey doesn’t talk to someone else in real life, and she doesn’t share the frame with anyone. While most of the film is viewed from the perspective of webcams, it occasionally regresses to show just how empty the film’s real-world spaces are. Casey’s attic bedroom recedes in the background, a claustrophobic endless maw. Suburban decay marks its setting, with abandoned supermarkets and scattered lines of dead trees dotting the gray landscape. Once, we hear someone – presumably a parent – yell at Casey to lower her voice. It’s the only time someone talks to her offline.
Horror of this kind is transmitted over the Internet We all go to the World Fair Explores based on contact. People who live their lives online are very aware of many other people, and many other lives. Young nostalgia for “Is that all there is to it?” Suddenly he has a definite answer: No, it isn’t. There is much more than that. At first, this discovery was exciting: there much To the Internet, a lot of people and ideas, all of them are better or more exciting than the ones you would have spent your life around. It can also be intimidating, if you stop to think that it is possible to see so much.
As Casey posts her videos and lets the algorithm pull her deeper into the World’s Fair community, someone named JLB (Michael L. Rogers) contacted her. JLB is a vlogger who doesn’t show his face – when he posts, he has an illustration of an ogre with a rictus grin. He communicates with the people on the World’s Fair Challenge, on the grounds that his interests and conversations are completely ‘in-game’ – and his way of working is to take the World’s Fair Challenge seriously, never breaking character, hoping that he and the people he’s talking to” Let them be afraid together.”
JLB appreciates Casey’s approach to the World’s Fair Challenge, her videos addressing the true horror of creepypasta. They are simple, unadorned recordings of normal behaviour, quietly interrupted by something annoying. Perhaps there is a supernatural element at play, or perhaps all of the participants are just acting, in order to feel part of a community, or perhaps to live out their own fantasies of change. In her first performance, the reality cup blurs so effortlessly that it becomes impossible to know which way world fair will fall. Is she really detaching and having out-of-body experiences, or is she provoking herself and using the world fair to drive away feelings of depression or dysphoria? Does she really sleepwalk, or does she perform for dozens of people who watch her videos? Is something chasing her or is she just growing up?
In the early hours of the morning, when consciousness and sleep battle the minds of those lost in the infinite scroll, it is hard to distinguish between role-playing and real horror. The only consistent anchor is the familiar circular arrows to refresh the internet, automatically uploading another video for Casey to watch. Her aimless loading and swiping interfered with her aimless roaming of her hometown, and the longer she played the online game, the harder it became to know how well her behavior counted, whether she knew which parts of the story were real and which weren’t, or whether she did it from before.
We all go to the World Fair It is a work of algorithmic horror, and presents a world – ours – where young people try to figure out who they are while machines also watch them, trying to figure them out faster. The YouTube recommendations algorithm does not know the difference between sincerity and irony, between propaganda and satire that pushes boundaries with different tastes. He’s only interested in getting people to watch. There is always another video ready to go. The algorithm is hard-coded on the assumption that no one will ever find what they are looking for.
This is the real horror of trying to find out who you are by being online. The hope of the internet is that everyone can find a community, and the weirdness of activities like anonymous work to scare others online can create a safe and creative place. Schoenbrunn suggests that within this range of collective expression, people can decide who and what they want to be. We all go to the World Fair It’s not just a movie about communication, it’s about becoming. It’s a powerful acknowledgment of how confused and frightened young people can be. But it’s also a movie about hope. There is a name for a certain kind of alienation and confusion that his characters feel. Perhaps, he suggests, people like Casey will find that name, despite the device’s best efforts.
We all go to the World Fair Now playing in theaters, come to appleand Vudu and other digital services on April 22.