Miranda July’s new short film ‘Somebody’ accompanies an app that allows you to deliver text messages verbally . . . with the help of a complete stranger
Screened at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, ‘Somebody’ was created as part of Miu Miu’s ‘Women’s Tales’ series, a showcasing platform for talented female directors and a means to ‘explore the feminine love affair with Miu Miu’. A killer wardrobe and an app that facilitates some serious victories for the women using it means that it does this, and more.
Blanca and Yolanda, two best friends arguing over who has the right to wear the fabulously normcore Miu Miu padded shell jacket they’re both sporting (nothing more annoying than a bessie copying your instagrammed fashion finds!) Throw into the mix some savage boy-probs and the possibility of kissing and making up becomes ever more distant. Or does it?
This is the new messaging service that allows you to say ‘face to face’ those things that might be difficult or even impossible to say otherwise. In Blanca and Yolanda’s case, that somebody is a pink-knit Miu Miu clad granny. “I don’t wana be in no fight with you Blanca, you my home girl! This is stupid” says granny on Yolanda’s behalf. Although the girls are actually standing right next to each other, part of the beauty of the app is that you can dump an unwanted boyfriend from a distance (with a tad more warmth than an unfeeling text and crappy *sadface emoticon). The ‘Somebody’ website explains that when you send your friend a message through Somebody, it goes — not to your friend — but to the Somebody user nearest your friend. This person (likely a stranger) delivers the message verbally, acting as your stand-in.’ You can give your stand-in directions for their message delivery, such as ‘nervously’ or ‘longingly’, and give them instructions such as ‘hug’ or ‘fist bump’ (high five to anyone who has the balls to carry out the ‘tell your life story’ command to a complete stranger).
The incredible thing about this app is the way in which it attempts to challenge how we interact with each other. It cleverly questions the way in which we approach and use the sometimes very two-dimensional world of social media. July has said of her creation: “I see Somebody as a world-wide public art project, inciting performance, connection between strangers and conversation about the value of inefficiency and risk.” ‘Somebody’ puts back into messaging a little of the tenderness we may have left behind with the creation of touch screens and unlimited minutes and texts.
In this sense, it presents us with a paradox: whilst our messaging experience becomes more human and intimate (because we’re sharing it with an actual person as opposed to a screen), it becomes something strange and uncanny, as our friend’s message is communicated by a total random. The film itself delves into the realms of surreality, with a weirdly climactic finish (seriously – Anthony the plant wants his prison worker attendee to “test (his) soil. Deeper.”) Herein lies the potential of ‘Somebody’ to turn ordinary situations into extra-ordinary ones (although we can’t promise you that any techno-savvy potted plants who’ve got the horn will start springing up in offices across the country). As Muiccia Prada herself said of the AW ’14 collection that features in the short: “Normality is weird” – in the same way that Mrs Prada re-contextualised quilted nylon to make it the most desirable luxury item imaginable, ‘Somebody’ has the potential to turn the most mundane of daily exchanges into uber-exciting encounters with the unknown.
Words: Florence Trott.