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Trophy Boy Shows the Reality Behind Sexy Social Media Images

'Trophy Boy' Shows the Reality Behind Sexy Social Media Images

In the new short film, an Instagram star sees the persona he created falls apart.

In Trophy Boy, a new short film directed by and starring Emrhys Cooper, sexy young Instagram star James Heathcote (Cooper) sees his #fakelife exposed when his sugar daddy cuts him off and kicks him out. "Social media has created a generation of self-obsessed narcissists obsessed with self-obsessed narcissists," says Cooper -- himself with nearly a quarter million followers across his social platforms -- on why he made the film. The Advocate spoke with the director and star about his film and the impact of social media.

The Advocate: As your movie shows, social media can be used to tell a fictional version of live. How do you see it impacting real life in our culture?
Cooper: I've seen the dangers of social media firsthand. It has brought an amount of unhappiness and depression into my life, and while it was peddled to us as a means of bringing people together, I believe it has done the opposite. However, I do think that we are at peak social media; people are beginning to become inoculated to it and yearn for real connection. As soon as your granny starts reposting Russian bots you know it's game over. Social media enables us to create avatars of ourselves and share our lives, but if you're not careful you can start to believe your "own press."

How do you think projecting a certain image on social media and in dating apps affects gay male culture?
New York is often treated as a petri dish for "new and improved" dating apps and social media platforms. It's a strange thing to see a bunch of 20-somethings wandering around lower Manhattan with phones in their hands trying to match the face on the phone with the terrified character sitting alone at the bar. I feel like people are missing out on life by staring at these devices; the city goes rushing by and you're transfixed by the neon demon. In terms of "gay male culture," the era of the fun gay bar seems to be closing, which I think is a real shame; people aren't going out to meet people in bars anymore. They are on Grindr instead.

What message do you hope an LGBT audience takes from your movie?
Everything is not as it seems; take a moment to ponder what's going on behind the curtain; all that glitters isn't gold!

What do you hope the success of Trophy Boy enables you to do next?
Like James in the film, I feel like the last year has been an awakening for me. Being in the entertainment business has been a hard slog, but with Trophy Boy, I've discovered my voice. I want all my projects moving forward to have a message of redemption and love. We are currently in the process of developing Trophy Boy into a TV series, so watch this space.

After watching the clip above, view the full Trophy Boy short film here and learn more on the official site.

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