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How Social-Media Culture Shaped The Story Of The Right One

Iliza Shlesinger and Cleopatra Coleman in The Right One

With the rise of the social media age, we now have generations growing up who won’t know life without streaming and apps. Whether you love or hate the various social networking sites, it seems they’re here to stay, and the culture they’ve created has had an impact on the film and television industry. Ken Mok, writer and director of The Right One shared the inspiration behind his film and the part social-media culture has played.

The Right One is a delightful romantic comedy that follows Sara (Cleopatra Coleman), a novelist with writer’s block as she meets Godrey (Nick Thune). Sara runs into Godfrey a few times, but each time he seems to be a completely different person, which Sara quickly understands to be a coping mechanism from a past trauma. Writer/director Ken Mok discussed his inspiration for this story with CinemaBlend, and here’s what he revealed:

The inspiration for this film came from two sources, but the primary one was: I've always been fascinated by this British actor named Peter Sellers. The interesting thing about Sellers was that he was this brilliant actor who could take on any role. He could play British, he could play Cockney, could play Indian and he could play Southern. He could take on any persona and he flipped seamlessly into those characters. But in real life, when he wasn't playing a role, he didn't know who he was. He literally was this cipher that only came alive when he took on a role. And it really started making me think: what would cause a person to have this utter lack of self identity? It must've been some sort of emotional trauma that happened to this person that would make him become that way.

Godfrey was inspired by Peter Sellers, who was quite the interesting man himself. This also speaks to Nick Thune’s talent, as he’s able to pull off all of Godfrey’s personas in the film. But that only speaks to the surface of the story, a man having experienced something traumatic who is putting on a front because he doesn’t know who he is. The Right One dives much deeper into the human psyche, and here is what Ken Mok shared:

I read this article about this very popular social influencer who suddenly quit. And she quit because everything she was posting online was fake, right? It was completely inauthentic that, you know, it was a very curated version of who she is. And that made me think, Oh my God, what's happening to identity in this country, in this culture now with social media? And how social media, in a weird way, is really corrupting identity. It's corrupting authenticity because all of us are presenting kind of fake versions of ourselves across our social media platforms. So when I kind of took that idea and I married that with the idea Peter Sellers, it naturally led me to this road of creating the story for The Right One.

The corruption of identity is something I cannot stop thinking about. We all do it, right? And not only are we presenting a very specific and curated version of ourselves online, but there is a different version for each social media platform. If we’re putting our travel highlights on Instagram, our best one-liners on Twitter, and our political thoughts on Facebook, those are each very specific parts of our personalities and will significantly change in the eyes of others based on where they interact with us.

Ken Mok’s The Right One explores this identity corruption and leads to a great deal of introspection after viewing. The character Godfrey has created a plethora of people that he knows everything about, and yet questions he can answer for his other personas he cannot answer himself. Contrasting Godfrey is Sara, who seems to know who she is but as the story unfolds we learn that she has the same identity crisis that has presented itself in a very different way than Godfrey’s.

In addition to this wonderful exploration of how to be authentic in the world today and how to cope with the various trials of life, The Right One delivers the laughs and warm feelings that we all need. The film is available on demand, digital, and in select theaters. I’m curious what you think: Is social media corrupting our ability to be authentic and understand our own identities? Let me know in the comments.

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.