There will be spoilers for the 2022 film, if that matters to you.
That Trigger Warning Was Hilarious But Welcome
Danni is indeed the worst. Even before her ultimate grift, it is annoying when people fake being in different places for clout and attention. Photoshopping yourself into vacation destinations and the like and trying to pass them off as legitimate is just strange. However, this in and of itself, of course, is not the worst part of Danni’s lies or the film itself. When it was quickly revealed that Paris underwent a terrorist attack right as Danni was pretending to be there, instead of being honest about not having been there, she adjusts her lie to accommodate the very real tragedy that took place. She pretends to have survived a tragedy that claimed actual lives. Later, the lie gets even worse when she latches onto a young Black girl who also was an actual victim of trauma to legitimize her lie, stealing the unfortunate Black girl’s words to hype herself up for fame and sympathy.
In addition to the big, obvious plot reasons why Danni is a garbage person, she is also a casual racist. Her diet racism was doin’ what it do. She tells Rowan, the young Black girl, that her spoken word poetry was “like Hamilton”. Girl… Hamilton??? That’s wrong for multiple reasons, but we not even gonna get into that. But the real kicker, in my opinion, was when she had the caucasity to compare her collabing with Rowan to Katniss and Rue from the Hunger Games… Not Rue!!! Not the Hunger Games… Girl… Rue DIED. She was a complete and total victim in the sense that she wasn’t a hero, or leading a GODDAMNED thing! And Danni ain’t no Katniss either! If she was anyone from the Hunger Games, it would be Glimmer. For anyone who doesn’t know or remember, Glimmer was in the first book and first movie only (because she also dies). She was a member of one of the rich disticts (and Danni comes from a wealthy background. She’s shown to only have one job, but is clearly not very successful at in the begiining of the film has a very spacious apartment in the city. I realized it’s likely her parents were bankrolling her living situation), was the stereotypical beauty (though your mileage may vary on how much this applies to Danni in-universe or IRL), and tried to garner favor and use tools she didn’t know how to use (a bow and arrow for Glimmer that Katniss takes when she dies, and rising up from trauma in the case of Danni).
Throw the whole human away.
Why Was the White Queer the ONLY One Suspicious?
I found Harper to be annoying as fuck. She is shown to hang out with this other queer person who is a Black man, and I wondered why he couldn’t be the one to suspect Danni, and why he was so shortchanged in terms of relevance as well as immediately falling for Danni’s lie like everyone else. On the other hand, I do appreciate some white-on-white crime, and two white people hating each other for legitimate and also irrational reasons (it was clear to me that for Harper it was both), is a joy to see.
But aside from Harper’s general unpleasantness (I’m really not trying to say “unlikability” because I hate using terms like that and “likable” about women in fiction or reality, because women don’t have to be likable, but like with Danni, their personalities are developed in a way that was grating to me, versus characters like Jessica Jones who is also unpleasant, but in a way I like and makes sense to me), she didn’t make sense in her big moment. She went through Danni’s computer at work and even takes it with her to confront Danni. Danni’s office is fully visible due to glass doors and walls. And yet no one saw this..? There was no surveillance showing this theft/breach of privacy? Also, who leaves their computer or device open or active and logged in? THEN, she confronts Danni about her actions and says that she suspected her because she didn’t like her… While Danni was untrustworthy, Harper had no basis for her suspicion other than disliking her and being jealous of her.
Worst of all… Harper magically gives Danni the opportunity to confess her lies or else she will write an exposé that she admits will help her own career… for WHY??? She already didn’t like her from jump and we saw her stank face whenever she saw Danni. She also went through Danni’s private shit which could/probably should have gotten her in serious trouble at the very least at work. And she clearly takes major issue with the girl taking advantage of a very real tragedy. So then WHYYYYY would she give her a chance to get in front of the story when she CLEARLY don’t fuck with her??? On a personal level, she hates her. On a moral level, she hates what Danni did. It makes no sense whatsoever.
My final note about Harper’s annoying tendencies (just in how she acts, not in her suspecting or confronting Danni): she’s not nearly as aggravating as Danni is, but she irked me. But I do like white-on-white violence, and while I would have preferred an ethnic queer person having more to do, I also find it fitting that another annoying character would be white.
The OTHER Grifter/Annoying Character Most People Watched the Movie for in the First Place
I don’t even remember this guy’s name in the movie, and I’m not looking it up, so I’m calling him Stiles. You’ll just have to take me to court over that. Stiles was cringe as hell in this movie because so many white people are like him. The blaccent alone was offensive. One thing I adore Harper for is when she calls him out for being from Maine. It is often white people from affluent backgrounds who suddenly decide to put on Blackness like a coat. I also feel, to be clear, that even if a white person is from underserved communities or intercities or grew up around Black people, it’s still wrong when they use blaccents or put on and take off Blackness like a coat. I also found it hilarious that in response to Harper calling him out, the blaccnet falls the fuck down like Buckwild in Flavor of Love season 2 (“Where the fuck did your accent go?”).
As Slim Shady, Stiles Edition was using his whiteness to get attention for utilizing Black culture, he was a grifter much like Danni. They truly deserved each other and I understand what drew her into him. The sad part is that the world is utterly in love with Dylan O’Brien and his involvement in the film is the big driving factor behind many (if not most) people watching it in the first place. The big takeaway is that he was here rather than the lessons, theme, or fascinating premise of the film.
Rowan was My Whole Heart and Soul in This Movie and She Needs to be Protected At ALL Costs
Bless her heart, but this child was a horrible judge of character and trusted that white girl way too easily. Rowan, I love you but… this is EXACTLY why we don’t just blindly trust white people! Don’t go opening doors for them and giving them your secrets and affection when they haven’t truly proven themselves. It’s horrible that you got grifted, but you also didn’t question or verify literally anything Danni said. I kinda hate that the white queer was just on it and the Black girl was blind as a bat even while Danni was giving casual racism. And given that Rowan was a socially conscious public figure and person overall, I was at first shocked that she did not once call out Danni’s microaggressions, but then I remembered that, unfortunately, even the most conscious can sometimes slip or otherwise ignore when they really want to like certain people. People sometimes ignore or overlook red flags, when they need to turn them white (that’s a Little Mix “Cut You Off” reference btw).
Rowan was the sweetest character in the entire film alongside her mother and their support group. These days you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone who bitches and moans about everything being so “woke” now. But I feel even some of them would agree that here in this film and with this character, it fits perfectly with the influencer theme and ties into the overall wrongness of the leading character quite perfectly.
Even though Rowan was a high school teen and younger than Danni, I liked that the article Danni saw once she confessed the truth stated that Rowan’s protege was a fraud. It was the perfect and most accurate framing. Rowan straight up took Danni under her wing, gave her tips, and advice, and literally took Danni onto HER platform. Danni using Rowan and her very real trauma and words was reprehensible and disgusting.
I liked that when Rowan showed up at Danni’s office and confronted her that everyone immediately took Rowan’s side, but I also realized how unrealistic it was. I’m sorry, but even a younger Black girl who is famous would probably be suspected of being wrongfully aggressive or dangerous in a situation where she has arrived in a public place and started angrily shouting at a white woman. Certainly at the very least the question of whether or not she was wrong or right would come up. Everyone immediately siding with Rowan, again while I liked seeing it, and turning against Danni just didn’t ring true. This is a society where deceased Black victims are treated like criminals in the media (“what were they up to?” “what did they do to be harmed?”) and white domestic terrorists and criminals are taken alive and labeled as “disgruntled” or “disturbed” instead of evil or malicious or racist for harming people.
Rowan’s final spoken word piece was perfect, especially the ending. She should not kiss and make up.
Final Notes and Stray Observations
The poster is kind of perfect: the French flag colors tie into the actual plot point of the grift. The colorful, trendy nails and makeup, many variations of which Danni uses throughout the film, also mirror real-life popular influencers and their colorful aesthetics. Best of all, the cartoonish, painted-on tears coupled with the faux expression of sorrow while overtly displaying the aforementioned, carefully curated nail and makeup aesthetics, indicates the major theme of pretending to suffer for the sake of attention and notoriety… but also suffering in a way you can still be seen as glamourous and viable.
Danni’s actress, Zoey Deuch, was giving incredibly potent Kristen Bell energy. She sounds a lot like her and kind of resembles her a bit. Also, Harper’s actress favors Tina Majorino, which is ironic because Majorino played Mac on Veronica Mars, which starred Kristen Bell as the title character. Also ironic because both Veronica and Mac are iconic, fan-favorite characters who were friends, but Danni and Harper are both annoying and at odds in this film.
The support group leader being Rowan’s mom actually made perfect sense. The actress even looks like Rowan’s actress, so good casting and reveal. I did, however, question if it’s not somewhat of a conflict of interest to have your own child or close relative be in your support group where everyone should be equal, but in hindsight it makes sense that Rowan seemed to get free reign to talk even when other members were recounting their own stories and trauma. I feel like usually interruptions/chiming in with opinions would be discouraged while others are sharing even if the person interrupting thought they were helping (or actually were), but I could be wrong about that.
How did Danni get her job at that company in the first place? It seems like she was trash AF prior to the grift and there’s no backstory or throwaway line to her having been successful there before, unless I’m mistaken. How much was her job paying her if her articles seem to be wack? Likely her parents are paying for her place, because surely her job prior to her promotion didn’t give her a place like that with all that space.
Not Danni blaming the weed towards why she did what she did… “This descision was a product of loniness and a desire to find meaning in my life”… Which is it Danni??? Was it to impress a guy, which the narrative also seemd to indicate, or lonliness and desire to find meaning? Tell the truth!!! Chile, she done thrown in depression… She is doing another grift to “atone” for her initial grift…
The random ethnic dude, Kelvin, who was all up on Danni’s ass when she wasn’t checking for him whatsoever, sees the news of her deciet and says “white women”. It’s hilarious. I’m kind of glad he wasn’t Black, because it would have been so easy to have a Black man complain about white women, while actively purusing them, often exclusively. Unfortunately, a lot of Black men are like this, but it is by no means unique to them.
The Black queer guy has literally nothing to do.
Danni and her white girl tears need to go.
Wow… Danni was doxxed. She ain’t shit, but I don’t like seeing or knowing that this happens to women, especially considering that them being harmed is a strong possibility as a result of it. And yet also… While it was bold and wise to show doxxing as a possibility in a movie about an influencer becoming infamous and doxxing is a real issue, I did feel a little of the execution was clunky. Why did that random man accost her like that in a public place? Why did we see video footage of men saying “murderers, R*pists, this is her address, go get her!!!” It was giving Hunger Games movie 1 when the Capitol kids (or whatever they were called, the kids from the wealthy districts) were like “Yeah! Let’s KILL her!” about Katniss. It was a little cartoonish. I’m not saying don’t allude to or show the potential real dangers of doxxing, but it also felt a little over-the-top in its execution for me. A part of me also wonders if the doxxing scene was added to humanize Danni, even a little, and garner genuine sympathy for her from the viewer.
Even demons have parents who love them.
A white woman support group..?
Harper is one thing, and Rowan was absolutely necessary and the only exception, but in this white lady support group we have a white girl calling out Danni as well. I know I said I like white-on-white crime, but a part of me wonders if more white people going against her was thought to soften the blow. In particular, I get annoyed when I see white characters being written to directly call out other white people for their white privilege. It feels like it either softens the blow than if an ethnic character did it, or legitimized it because if another white person says it, it MUST be true…
It was solid advice for Danni to make amends, not over the phone or online, but directly in person to the people she hurt.
Also, why didn’t she change her appearance now that she’s a social pariah??? Not even a wig or dye job? Her hair is pretty distinctive in this movie. When she “sneaks” in to see Rowan’s performance in the finale of the film, how was she not IMMEDIATELY recognized? She went viral and was famous, and is now infamous. One person in the beginning even says they want to change their hair because they don’t want to look like her. A cap over the top of her head with her hair still hanging down was ridiculous. That ain’t gon’ do shit!
I don’t know how much time passed between the confrontation at Danni’s office, but while I narratively understand why this is the time Danni goes to make amends with and see Rowan in person that Rowan’s new performance piece is about Danni and what she did… I also question the timing. It’s almost as if Rowan somehow knew Danni would be there or could be there, it’s meant to be some contrived coincedence, or the plot needed this to be the EXACT time Danni would hear the effect she had on this girl at this precise moment.
I’m glad ROWAN knew that Danni stole her words… Because I certainly did the moment she reposted them for Danni.
Rowan’s actress is amazing. I hope her career absolutely flourishes because she is putting her heart and soul into this performance throughout the film. In an age of lots of mediocre and downright bad acting in many random things, this girl is a breath of fresh air. She needs to be the lead in new projects, big ones.
One final note. Even though I saw it coming, Danni’s decision to leave and not try and apologize was the best decision she ever made in the entire film. I’m glad this is where the movie ends and they didn’t try to redeem her. That being said, in real life, she absolutely would have gotten a redemption arc and people would have forgiven her, namely white people and some misguided ethnic folks. Probably not Rowan, but scores of others. Also, like the Boys season 3 showed, you can lose the faith of one demographic and gain a whole other one. Danni likely would have gained a new following of white people who wanted to be seen and were desperate to do so. Or perhaps other gifters in general. She went viral, and is attractive and white. She absolutely could and would have finessed her infamy into a platform of her very own. Maybe a film, a reality tv series, etc. At the end of the day, she was still the protagonist of this film and all eyes were on her.