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Cam and Fears of Online Identity Theft

by Ethan Tussey

Content theft and impersonation are issues that can have serious financial impacts on those whose careers take place online. Cam (2018) explores and extends the fears surrounding online identity theft, suggesting that the physical body is the ultimate identity protection device. Alice is a popular camgirl who goes by the moniker of Lola. Like many YouTube personalities and social media influencers she has curated an attractive image of herself online. She interacts with her fans, but has never met them. Her mediated image (and name) is all they know of her. The crisis of the film occurs when Alice gets locked out of her account, yet Lola is somehow still streaming online. Alice has lost control over her self-presentation. The site’s customer service is ineffective and the police are aggressively unhelpful. There is not a system in place that is equipped to deal with many of the issues individuals are facing online (impersonation, intellectual property theft, harassment, etc) and individuals may find themselves with little to no legal recourse. Alice is left to navigate this loss of identity on her own, mimicking the lack of resources that currently exist for those curating online identities.

As Brooke Erin Duffy argues, the labor that social media producers perform is invisible to followers. While we as audience members of Cam see the labor that Alice has put into her online brand, her viewers do not. The fake Lola is breaking the rules Alice had put in place for herself, and yet her audience doesn't know or care. They accept the “new” Lola and never notice a difference between the two. Even worse, while Alice no longer controls or benefits from her online persona's behavior, she ultimately suffers the consequences. Her personal relationships are threatened because of the actions of her digital doppelgänger.

Because the fake Lola looks identical to Alice, it is only through physical self-harm that Alice is able to gain back access to her account. The physical body is thus made to be the indicator of truth. While Alice had previously simulated self-harm as Lola, it is only by undergoing physical trauma that she is able to reassert her claim to her channel and name. For Cam, it is the corporeal body that remains triumphant over the superficiality of online identity.

Cam | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

From Blumhouse, the producer of GET OUT and UPGRADE comes CAM - a technology-driven psychological thriller set in the world of webcam porn starring Madeline Brewer (Handmaid's Tale).

from Cam | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix (2018)
Creator: Netflix
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey