Jawline – female fandom from the frontline

Amy (Into Film Young Reporter)

Amy (19) is a Young Reporter for Into Film and a student from Newcastle studying filmmaking in Leeds with a specific interest in documentary directing. We asked her what she thought of JAWLINE, which premiered at Sheffield Docfest June 2019 - here's what she had to say

Every era of teenage girls has had a universal boy-centric obsession whether it’s Beatlemania in the ’60s or Directioners up until 2015, yet now we find ourselves in an age where there is no stand out boy group, no voices of young boys that plague the radios hour by hour, no glossy band posters plastering bedroom walls. Instead, young girls’ earphones are now blasting out the sounds of teen boys YouNow streaming from their bedrooms, lip-syncing to their favourite songs on musical.ly and vlogging their lives on Youtube.

Liza Mandelup’s Jawline follows the life of sixteen-year-old Austyn Tester on his quest for internet stardom, investigating the relationship between influencer and viewer. Where Jawline shines is in its exposing honesty as we learn of just how much power these young boys have over so many young emotionally vulnerable and insecure girls. We see Austyn and his humble life in rural Tennessee at the start of a potential career-making tour contrasted with the lucrative side of LA management teams and mansions filled with content churning teen boy machines. On the surface, it may be easy to tarnish this entire group of content creators as shallow and exploitative but through intimate access to Austyn’s life, we begin to see the detrimental effect which obsession and fame creates, not only unhealthy for the viewer but also the stars themselves. 

Ultimately Jawline is telling of our dependence on the internet and social media to bring us happiness but most importantly it is an emotional and delicate journey nto a growing small-town boys’ life, a boy desperate to not be stuck in his dead-end no prospects town forever, and an insight into how by simply utilising his good-looks he could change not only his life but his family’s too. Watching the film you begin to be drawn in by Austyn’s charm and his constant preaching of positivity, self-love, and dream-chasing. You catch yourself smiling and suddenly you begin to see how young girls can be drawn in, how they could begin to rely on this affirmation, how it doesn't matter if it’s genuine or fake because it’s what they want to hear. The hypocrisy is deafening as we see Austyn tell his adoring fans to stay true to their authentic selves whilst he frets over altering his appearance, being conventionally attractive and suppressing his depression as he puts on an hour-long show of positivity.  

The film makes no secret that for the most part this isn’t just young boys talking to girls out of the goodness of their hearts but actually a lucrative money making scheme, by which both managers and stars profit  from the insecurities of teenagers. Whether they’re spending over $200 on tour tickets and meet and greets or tipping on YouNow, in the hope that their name will be noticed, it’s upsetting to see so openly how girls who are so badly treated in their real life turn to the virtual world to feel acceptance and love. Jawline is ultimately a poignant dissection of the digital age, one where we are left to make our own minds up on where we stand in a world where teen boys with few visible talents hold so much influence over so many impressionable girls lives.  


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