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Article Discussions, Film

Nerve in Reality

Movie Discussion

Written and published with Creators.co – 11th November 2016

In the age of technology, our society is exposed to many new and radical notions that may have once seemed unthinkable to exist in the real world. 2016 saw the release of teenage action feature Nerve, of which graced our cinema screens to depict an extreme, online game of truth or dare. Situated in a world virtually identical to our own, the film displays similarities, yet still holds an utmost far-fetched notion concerning the world of social media and online way of life. The question lies to whether or not these notions could in fact be plausible in our current society or if it’s just too drastic even for our world.

The Daring Concept

The movie itself illustrates young high school senior Vee, involving herself in a full-on escapade requiring her to conduct a series of increasingly hazardous tasks in order to gain support from online followers. For starters, this begins as a regular present day fiasco, but then the technologies quickly take centre stage, highlighting what we know today as the digital era. It’s a very contemporary subject that emphasizes what could be considered to be the harsh truth of dangerous online activity. Once Vee is initiated as a ‘player’ to the game, she progresses through dares such as ‘kiss a stranger’ but the more she completes, the more complex and dangerous they become. Quickly, she is dragged further into the game, intertwining with fellow players and encouraged to commit theft and walk across a ladder from one apartment window to another.

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Nerve (2016) – source: Lionsgate

It’s a contest of popularity. In an age like today, it’s considered highly attractive to a wide audience, particularly with young adults and teens. Driven by the prospects of getting noticed by peers and experiencing rush of adrenaline that they may not experience in day to day life. Fickle minds may give almost anything of this privilege, in the case of nerve, it’s giving yourself to the powers of the internet in exchange for cash and glory. In some case, this may appear to be very similar to our own contemporary society. Nowadays, it’s common to see numerous individuals on their phones, tablets or other device while walking down the street or carrying out other daily routines. It’s not just the young either, as it’s importance is evident for a substantial percentage of the general public. Although the younger audiences are primarily focussed on when considering this subject due to the influence on them that technology seemingly has on them.

Would it be Effective in Modern Society?

So when all is considered, the game of Nerve isn’t too far fetched from life we know of today. Would the reality TV stylised pastime be effective in our society? Fundamentally, the optimism would lie in the the concept proved unsuccessful. The intensity of what is put across during the course of the dares is dangerous to the players, even the ‘watchers’ are caught under an unnatural affliction. This film shows a rebel against guidance our parents would’ve once shared with us when we were young. From not talking to strangers to not sharing personal information online, it takes these and decimates what once was considered to be personal privacy.

A primary turmoils that lie with this concept is the total dominance that the internet can achieve within seconds. Within a few clicks, the film protagonist was thrust straight into a media controlled environment, in which technology then had complete control over her personal direction. From small commodities such as acquaintance with an individual’s favourite book to serious details like handling their bank account details, some can consider this a scary supposition. The unethical confidence that individuals hold with technology would effectively end in a high downfall if this ended in the wrong hands. Indeed, this is accurate when viewing Nerve. Consequently, the ‘watchers’ of the game inevitably steal their identities and thus resulting in terrible events that expose themselves and their fortune. An anonymous source then has absolute control on their lives. It’s a frightening envision when it’s taken into genuine consideration in collation with our own lives. As the character is challenged to “live a little” there can be thoughts that consider it to be pushing the boundaries too much.

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Nerve (2016) – source: Lionsgate

Of course, it’s not just the the obstacles considering personal identity to regard. The dares that are demonstrated in the film are dangerous and potentially law breaking. If at all, this was a global phenomenon (it only seems to be contained to NYC in the film) there would sure to be some recognition from surveillance. Even from the sheer amount of ‘watchers’ that conveniently find themselves in the right place to record the dare experience, outsiders would begin to take note. The game demonstrates a blurred line regarding what is safe or off-limits, generating an appeal for adrenaline junkies. Speculation around simulation games resulting in dangerous activities has always been a prominent debate in the digital age. The focus of attention usually lies in the likes of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, both popular entertainment that gained a bad reputation for encouraging violent acts. Comparing these examples to that seen in the game of Nerve, we can identify a clear victor that would potentially lead to more ploys of peril. Nerve has the possibility to persuade any player to conduct dares with life-threatening circumstances.

Already Done Before?

Although, with the smartphone and social media evolving massively, especially over recent years, the game could still be plausible. In fact, already there is a game on the app store that follows a similar pattern to Nerve. ‘Double Dog’ is an existing dare app that launched in July of 2016. Revealed to have no correspondence to the recent movie, it has been developed independently since the beginning of 2016. Having yet to have fully launched into viral public eye, it still doesn’t live up to the extremities that are shown in Nerve. Essentially, the app is a harmless interpretation, encouraging users to send fun dares to friends to become Top Dog. It’s like any other social community app that requires a log in via Facebook or with a phone number to create a profile. Something we have already become familiar with, as most companies require an email or some kind of information in order to gain their benefits and thus use their product.

Unlike Nerve, there is no anonymous source encouraging the dares, instead the company that developed the app coaxes a moderation control that prevent users from going too far in the consideration of the safety of the dares. The awards are also less substantial, not guided by the large sums of cash but just there for a bit of fun to be shared between friends. Despite this, there is much less than can be potentially lost when playing this composed version, performing a harmless game of truth or dare – just lacking the truth. Structurally, it doesn’t have that high-tech instantaneity that is prominent in Nerve, but this element can be easily regarded as a movie ploy to animate the storyline more.

All in all, the concept can be observed very closely to our own technology driven society, firmly attached to our smartphones and online reputations. The daring game does hold an interesting concept with potential to propel ordinary individuals into the celebrity spotlight of viral videos, yet with so many other social softwares it would be hard to compete in such a tough market. It would become just another internet phase. Could it be possible? Perhaps. But it may remain sensible to keep it in the fictional domains of cinema and literature.


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