If you’re reading this, you’re committed to having kids soon. As your past self, I assume you’re still worrying about the kind of societal pressures your kids will face once they reach their formidable teenage years. I sure as hell am at age 23 – especially having just walked out of Nerve.
Today, I see the rise of mobile apps like Snapchat and Pokémon Go and witness what adolescents need to be doing in order to fit in. Back when we were in high school, a student wasn’t even spoken to if they didn’t have a shiny flip phone to text all your friends during class; and considering that we didn’t have a phone until grade 12, the first three years of high school were just peachy, weren’t they? That was the extent of what we had to deal with. Today, there are a whole slew of apps that determine how well teens rank in popularity — and what they do on those apps determines the hallway fame they so desperately crave.
That’s the concept behind Nerve, a thriller starring Dave Franco and Emma Roberts. In Nerve, if you don’t remember, teens are flocking towards the latest digital craze, a new app called Nerve that takes truth or dare to a whole other level. In the game Nerve, you decide whether you’re a ‘Watcher’ or a ‘Player’. Watchers set dares for Players to accomplish. If Players successfully complete the dare, they’re rewarded with a cash prize. The tougher the dare, the higher the cash value.
The premise is simple, solid and impactful. Nerve, in my opinion, is 2016’s sleeper hit.
Nerve is essentially one giant PSA for teens to stop seeking admiration online, but it tackles the subject in a very subtle manner. Nerve provides suspense, humour, mystery, and entertainment. Rather than pandering to a youthful demographic, like Hillary Clinton trying to ‘Whip’ and ‘Nae Nae’ in what has to be the most cringe-worthy Ellen segment, ever, Nerve sticks to the script and focuses on being a movie first, and a message, second.
A movie that sends a message is one thing, but a movie that provides entertainment and sends a message is a star in my book.
As we progress further into Nerve, we begin to see the dark side of the internet. The side of the internet that feeds off the misery and pain of others. One such moment is when Dave Franco’s character, Ian, is dared to dangle from a construction crane — with one hand. As a human being with pretty stand-up morals, I was very much against Ian going through with the dare, but as a moviegoer, I was on the edge of my seat. The theatre was pin-drop silent during this scene, with the only noises being faint gasps and squirms.
It’s these type of scare tactics that help Nerve get their point across. We’ve all seen the strange and extremely dangerous online trends that people participate in to obtain their 15 minutes of internet fame. Dangling off a crane doesn’t seem so out of the ordinary when put into perspective — which is terrifying and thought-provoking. Since we get to know Ian during our time viewing Nerve, the thought of him dying terrifies us, but when we see some teens doing something similar on our Facebook feed, we laugh it off as a bunch of dumb kids doing dumb shit.
Why don’t we have the same breath-held reaction as we did in the theatre? Why are we encouraging their behaviour by sharing the content? Are these kids really stupid or desperate for some type of belonging?
Nerve paints an alarming picture of the fate of our world as online trends get more inclusive and sharing our lives through our phones gets more and more normalized.
I know you’re worried about the type of dangers that await your offspring, and truth be told, there isn’t anything you can do to stop it. Every generation will bring new challenges. You will just have to try your best and pray to your Supreme Leader Trump that nobody creates an app like Nerve in real life.