Recently, our screens have been flooded with internet villains who faked their way to fame. From Anna Delvey to Simon Leviev, stories of how scammers managed to create believable profiles on the internet had us hooked to the screen. From all the stories and by simply taking a look at the world around us, we know how desperate everyone is to be famous. The reason is almost unimportant now. What matters is to be the center of a conversation, to watch the phone blink with likes and comments. The addiction to validity is undeniable and concerning. “Not Okay” deals with a social media addict who is shallow, uncompassionate, and desperate for attention. The fact that she is unaware of her privilege makes her all the more the perfect anti-heroine. While “Not Okay” also focuses on her mental health at times, it thankfully does not justify her actions and denies her a redemption arc. Even though the film does, at times, look like several other internet films, it manages to conclude with an impact.
‘Not Okay’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Danni would prefer to live in a world of hashtags and likes over the real world, where she had no friends or companions. Perhaps the lack of it was the reason she was consumed by online validation. She wanted to be a writer, but she neither had the passion nor the skills for it. Even her career choice was driven by her interest in being famous. She envied her queer colleague, Harper, a writer, for intending to travel to a writer’s retreat. She worked as a photo editor at “Depravity,” but she wanted to be a writer. She wrote a piece about the reasons why she felt sad, and one of them was that she had missed 9/11. This sums up Danni as a person so self-centered that she can barely sympathize. According to her, trauma was marketable, and the fact that she was not deprived socially or economically made her yearn for sympathy. She agreed when her queer colleague mockingly commented that not being a minority must be tough for her. He regretted that she was traveling on a cruise when 9/11 occurred, leaving her out of the collective trauma experience. Her privilege made her blind to the core.
She was interested in a weed influencer, Colin, who worked at “Depravity.” Colin was as inconsiderate if not more than Danni, and of course, she found him attractive. She wanted to get his attention when she saw him in her neighborhood. In the meantime, Colin was busy smoking weed and scrolling through his phone, and in a desperate attempt to spice up the conversation, she lied to him, stating that she would be traveling to Paris for a writer’s retreat. Just by hearing the word Paris, Colin acknowledged her, but now Danni had to make her lie believable. Tickets to Paris were unaffordable, but a quick photoshop would just do the trick. Blame her guinea pig, who happened to walk on her laptop and photoshopped her image with the Eiffel Tower. And thus, Danni began fabricating stories about her life in Paris on social media.
She called her parents to inform them about the retreat, making them believe her lies as well. She created a website for the retreat program to make it feel all the more real. She lived in her dingy apartment in Bushwick and posted pictures of the scrumptious food she was having in Paris. She obsessively worked day and night to keep her followers engaged, but one night she posted a picture of the Arc de Triomphe and fell asleep. She woke up to thousands of messages and phone calls. She learned there had been a string of terrorist attacks in Paris, and the Arc was also a target. She informed her mother that she was doing alright, but she struggled to comprehend what she must do to not sound insane. She did not wish to tell the truth, knowing that she would be judged for it, so she went ahead and played the victim. Gradually, she started to enjoy the attention and sympathy that came her way as a survivor of the blast, though like any success based on lies, it was short-lived.
See More: ‘Not Okay’ Review: Sympathy For The Privileged Influencer (And How The “Internet” Is Worse Than Them)
What Did Danni Do To Make People Believe Her Story?
Danni did not flinch away from the attention she got as a result of the attack. She sat in the comfort of her room and typed that she was safe, though her signal was unreliable. Her parents were worried sick, and when she returned home from her apparent Paris trip, she was showered with love and affection. Danni enjoyed the way she was being treated. To make her story all the more sentimental, she discussed how she had just walked away from the spot when the blast occurred. When her mother asked if her ears were ringing, something that Danni did not know happened to survivors, she awkwardly tried to divert the attention away from her stupidity.
At the office, colleagues gathered around to welcome her, and her editor had no complaints but just words of affection for her. In a few minutes, she watched people walk away, and to hold their attention, she declared that she would be writing a piece about her traumatic experience. People around her were happy that she was trying to find a way to cope with her trauma, though Harper found her casual approach after such a life-changing experience difficult to accept. Danni was now faced with another challenge. She had to write an article about an experience she had never lived. She decided to join the survivors’ group that her mother had recommended to her to gather information for her article. She met Rowan Aldren, a school shootout survivor and public figure, there. She knew she had to win Rowan’s confidence because of how famous she was, and she used their shared trauma to bond with her. Except Danni had not lived through trauma, whereas Rowan voiced her opinion against the gun laws, and she continued to struggle with everyday life after living through the nightmare. Danni used Rowan and her anger against the system to take the words out of her mouth and write an article published under her name. Rowan, a teenager who trusted Danni, believed that it was almost her duty to share the article a fellow survivor had written, giving her the platform she desperately wanted. The article was a sensation, making “IAmNotOkay” a hashtag. Even though Rowan knew that Danni wrote down what she discussed during their conversation, she decided to trust her nonetheless.
Her article made her internet famous and also caught Colin’s attention. He invited her to a product launch party for influencers. He wanted her to discuss the terrorist attack on his live feed. Danni was caught off-guard, and she refrained from commenting. Later, she made out with Colin, who used her victimhood for dirty talking. Watching the two insensitive characters share a moment of intimacy over a tragedy, where one chooses to incorporate the attack into their love-making, is absolutely revolting. When Danni was left alone after making out with Colin, she realized how the man she dreamt of hooking up with was far from perfect. Lonely, she chose to meet Rowan and the other survivors who had gathered together to practice kickball. She developed a meaningful relationship with Rowan, though that did not necessarily mean that she was a changed person. Danni came off as a person who barely gave a thought to the consequences that her actions might have. She lived in the moment and lacked the empathy to realize how her lying could affect Rowan.
‘Not Okay’ Ending Explained: How Was Danni Exposed?
Danni had her own office now, and Harper had to report to her to make her articles more viral-worthy. When Danni left her office to attend the “We’ve Had Enough” rally, she peaked into her laptop, and all the lies unfolded. Danni accompanied Rowan to the rally; she wanted to be there with her during the act, knowing how nervous Rowan often felt onstage. She gradually tried to fill in the shoes of Rowan’s elder sister, who died during the shootout. After going onstage, she spoke about the need to end gun violence in the nation. She also tried to speak about her Paris experience, but she could not make herself do it. From the moment that she started lying, she started to envision an entity wearing a jacket following her. She had seen on the news how authorities were suspecting a man wearing a jacket for the Paris attacks, and from then on, she could not get the image out of her mind. As she struggled to find words, firecrackers were busted by those who disagreed with the objective of the rally. The sound of the firecrackers left Rowan traumatized since she could associate the sound with the shootout. Rowan was tagged as the weak leader who could be frightened with crackers. Danni tried to cheer her up at the hospital, though, when Rowan questioned how she was able to keep her calm, she walked away. She could now anticipate the magnitude of what she was dealing with and how much harm she was causing to those she lied to. In her dreams, she unveiled the identity of the entity she now dreaded. It turns out she was the entity. She was the villain, whose lies would affect those around her. The next morning, Harper entered her apartment and gave her two options: either Harper would write an article exposing Danni, or Danni could publish an apology. She also added that Danni must personally apologize to Rowan.
Danni knew that she could not let an article expose her; she had to be in control, and a public apology seemed to be the only option. She explained in the apology that loneliness and depression were the reasons why she fabricated the lies, and she now regretted it. The internet is, of course, not forgiving. As soon as she published the article, she was bashed by one and all. Rowan was tormented after learning the truth. She confronted Danni in her office. She was shocked that Danni did not personally apologize to her for the damage caused. Danni was fired from her job, and she went back to live with her parents at their lavish house. She deleted her social media accounts and attended an online shaming support group. She decided to apologize to Rowan, and she planned to do so at the performing arts event, “Act Up!” where she knew that Rowan would be performing. She practiced her apology over and over again, but she was taken aback when Rowan went onstage. She announced that she would be performing a piece that she had recently written, and as it turned out, it was about Danni. She criticized Danni through her poetry, expressing how she had snatched the advice Rowan had once given her and turned it into a trending hashtag. She called her out for using the attack to climb the ladders of fame. She exclaimed how OTT platforms turned imposters like Danni into a sensation, whereas those who dared to speak about their rights were never given a platform. How Danni was mourning losing her status, whereas people like her mourned the death of those they watched dying in front of their eyes. She ended her act by stating that she might forgive Danni one day, but they would never be okay. Danni was left in tears, realizing the damage she had caused. She knew that her apology would not be able to mend it. She quietly went away, knowing that she no longer deserved to share the same space.
At the end of “Not Okay,” Danni felt the guilt and the shame that she lacked, to begin with. Even though Danni is the protagonist, “Not Okay” does not glorify her, and the ending perfectly sums up its stance. Imposters are given more attention than issues that are of importance. It was Rowan who had the final word, and Danni had to fade away in the background. A wealthy white woman complaining about how she regretted not being a part of a terrorist attack to later talk about the trauma she felt from it must fade away.
“Not Okay” is a 2022 Drama film directed by Quinn Shephard.