Produced in partnership with Eureka Productions, the company behind The Amazing Race Australia and Farmer Wants a Wife, American content streaming platform Netflix is tapping into the worldwide cultural phenomenon of social media influencers, announcing on Thursday that it will be releasing a new reality show titled “Byron Baes” based on the lives of influencers living in Byron Bay.
“Announcing Byron Baes, a docu-soap series following a ‘feed’ of hot Instagrammers living their best lives, being their best selves, creating the best drama content. #nofilter guaranteed,” Netflix’s official release states.
“But PLOT TWIST: don’t write these Baes off too quickly.
There’ll be fights, flings and heartbreak; but beneath every perfect post is a very real desire not just for ‘likes’ but to be liked, dammit, for who you are (so relatable). Can the Baes survive summer without a collab going wrong? Byron’s the kind of paradise that makes it all feel possible.”
While Netflix has yet to name the influencers cast for the show nor the release date of its reality series, some local residents are already feeling apprehensive about the show’s impacts on their coastal community. Australia’s national broadcaster ABC reports that some Byron Shire locals are “horrified, embarrassed and angry” fearing that the series will only portray a gentrified, upscaled version that will not reflect real, authentic life in Byron Bay.
On Twitter, the response was even less diplomatic. User ‘Allan Green’ tweets, “So how many people are there in Byron Bay who have turned their Narcissistic Personality Disorder into a career?”
#auspol So how many people are there in Byron Bay who have turned their Narcissistic Personality Disorder into a Career??? https://t.co/FLyOTwe7UC
— Allan Green (@Tank9999) April 7, 2021
While Windsor Beaver tweets: “Or the alternative title: “Pretentious wankers that ruined a quiet country town for locals” and the Byron produced version of it simply called “Fuck off” “.
Or the alternative title:
“Pretentious wankers that ruined a quiet country town for locals”
And the Byron produced version of it simply called “Fuck off”
— Windsor Beaver (@WindsorBeaver) April 7, 2021
Another user ‘Emilie’ posts, “Netflix obviously want a nice holiday location to enjoy themselves. Byron Bay was beautiful 30 years ago now it is just overrated.”
Social influencers make a living off monetising their ‘personal brand’ and commodifying relationships; using their public profiles to advertise products to their followers, in the form of blogs, YouTube videos and vlogs, and on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and SnapChat.
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Analytics company Insider Intelligence– that publishes data-driven research on industry trends– estimates that brands will spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, despite some research questioning the effectiveness of influencer marketing. A 2018 study of 4,000 respondents revealed that more than half believed that influencer content takes advantage of impressionable audiences, that influencers misrepresent real life and are too materialistic.
And as influencers wrestle more dollars and sponsorships away from traditional media, businesses are still grappling with issues around sustainability including the ethical sourcing of materials, the infinite growth philosophy on a finite planet, rampant consumerism and waste. Only time will tell whether influencer culture and internet celebrities will help to move the needle in these areas or whether they are just a shiny new marketing version of the same old business thing.
Greens candidate and long-time Byron local Mandy Nolan tells SBS, “To have a show about the fabulous Byron Bay, the influencers and the amazing lifestyle but to not address some really significant issues around housing feels immoral and unjust.
“There’s this shadow of poverty, of people with no influence and no voice in the community who are being pushed to the side despite having lived here for a long time.”
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Feature image of acai bowls at The Pressed Pantry by Noémi Macavei-Katócz.