Main Character Energy (Real Life Mag), Mar 2021

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Image: Untitled (multiple lenses, orange and red) (2019) by Chason Matthams. Courtesy the artist.

“You have to start romanticizing your life,” a voiceover on TikTok commands. “You have to start thinking about yourself as the main character.” The brief video, uploaded last May, is shot by drone: A slowly tilting bird’s-eye view descends toward a white woman surrounded by several friends chattering on the cusp of the frame. A harp arpeggio plays. “Because if you don’t, life will continue to pass you by,” the voice continues. “And all the little things that make it so beautiful will continue to go unnoticed. So take a second and look around and realize that it is a blessing for you to be here right now.” Eyes obscured by sunglasses, the woman assumes the role of a perfectly blank character on which viewers can project themselves.