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Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (2022): Gen Z Struggles for Connection

Four young women are covered in blood and dirt looking worried.
Bodies Bodies Bodies Promo Image

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is a dark horror comedy that tests friendships and one’s flimsy perception of self. Gabe talks about the woes of Gen Z culture, connection, and community. Kat explores the way youth and wealth can negatively impact your capacity for love, honesty, and trust.

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Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)

When a group of rich 20-somethings plan a hurricane party at a remote family mansion, a party game turns deadly.

Directed by: Halina Reijn


Bodies, Bodies, Bodies: the Performative Culture of a Generation Perpetually Online

by gabe castro

RED: Quotes, someone else's words.


Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is a dark horror comedy that tests friendships and one’s flimsy perception of self. Following a group of wealthy 20-somethings who party in the face of destruction. Under the influence of many narcotics, lingering resentment, and tense friendship politics, the party turns deadly after a murder mystery game titled, “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies,” ends in someone’s real death. 

Tensions and paranoia quickly escalate, leading to more violence and chaos. The friends' relationships are tested as their secrets and betrayals come to light. With mounting suspicion and a growing body count, the line between the game and reality blurs, forcing the characters to confront their true natures and the dangers of their toxic dynamics. The film is a brilliant form of horror satire, putting Gen Z culture, relationships, and ideologies under the microscope and in the hot seat. 

You’re Silencing Me

There are many things I appreciate about Bodies, Bodies, Bodies. From the first watch, I was hooked by its brilliant humor and sharp satire. I enjoyed the film's critical analysis of youthful toxicity. It’s perfect for a fun, group viewing, where you can laugh together at the sad, twisted young characters as they face the consequences of their actions. Despite its comical take on the generation's flippant attitude toward life and existence, the film handles the fragility of Gen Z with care and sensitivity.

The film highlights Gen Z’s performative culture, a heavy social weight that can impede growth or true compassion. The performativity of the characters stems from the weight of social conformities they’re expected to navigate. Gen Z, being the first generation fully online, have had their entire lives broadcast, captured, and performed on the internet. They adhere to their own set of social rules, which, when combined with technology, emotional distance, and significant societal issues, often leads to performative allyship and care. This behavior is driven by social expectations rather than genuine feelings. Despite their wealth and privilege, the characters are still young and often shallow, reflecting the influencer generation that is perpetually online and unable to fully disconnect from their social media personas. In the opening scene, Sophia and her paramour, Bee, are embracing in an up-close and personal makeout session that reaches its peak when Sophie confesses her love for Bee, her girlfriend of just six weeks. The scene eventually devolves into disconnected moment with both girls glued to their screens. In an article on NY Times titled, ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ and Gen Z’s Struggle to Connect IRL , Amandla Stenberg, who plays Sophie, shares on this disconnect saying, “Sophie is expecting Bee to perform this intense level of vulnerability, even though she perhaps has not earned it and I think that’s something that we expect now of everyone because we all perform vulnerability on the internet.”

There is a strong codependency of this generation with the internet. So much of their existence and perception of self is interpreted through the lens of that tiny screen. So when the power is out and they’re left with only themselves as entertainment, things get scary and treacherous. That NY Times article includes a quote from director Halina Reijn, “when the Wi-Fi goes out, it’s like they lose oxygen.”

The film offers an honest portrayal of a generation that is non-confrontational and deeply entrenched in internet culture. It really exaggerates the flippancy and nihilistic characteristics of today's youth in a tongue-in-cheek manner, almost as if they are mocking themselves. Much of their interaction revolves around trying to be politically correct and avoiding being labeled as wrong. For this generation who has seen the results of a social witchhunt, the damage that can be done if you are “canceled,” it can seem even more terrifying than death. The characters are constantly wielding and weaponizing language to portray themselves as innocent or victims while simultaneously disregarding the humanity of their supposed friends. Everyone knows that everyone is fake. It shows how delicate the balance is. That they are constantly walking a line, aware of the problems of the world, trying not to fall victim to those things, AND just trying to live their lives. AND they’re young so everything feels like the BIGGEST emotion. 

Consider TikTok, if your algorithm is doing a good job then you can be inundated with the horrors and nightmares of the travesties happening in Palestine right now in one short 30 second clip before scrolling and given instant-access to a silly video of someone’s dog deeming today “A no-bones day.” That fluidity and constant switching of emotions can have damage. We can in one moment feel the full weight of trauma and in the next laugh. The film embodies this experience, in the face of tragedy - literal death- these people can quickly shift, dissociating to protect themselves. Stenberg expands on this cognitive dissonance in that article mentioned earlier that, “The point is not to say that Gen Z is not intelligent or sophisticated, but rather to provide a commentary for how absurd the circumstances are.” Director Reijn continues, “We can totally live in the face of death and still speak about things that are so unimportant but are so big to us. I find that funny and tragic, of course, at the same time.”

They have to be on their best behavior which means they don't feel safe or comfortable being open, honest or vulnerable with each other. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies highlights the challenge of maintaining authenticity in an age of performative social interactions. Reijn explains that, “I think we live in a time where we’re all very narcissistic, because we’re constantly on camera. Right now, we’re constantly aware of how we look and that is, of course, unprecedented, right? Normally, that was just actors, or musicians and now it’s all of us.” We have watched many social movements grow, starting as a place of strength and retribution. To see the #MeToo movement blossom, amplifying the voices of women everywhere, revealing a shocking number of most women having suffered some form of sexual abuse or innappropriate behavior. And then to see Harvey Weinstein, a large proponent of this harm, have his sex crime conviction overturned? It is whiplash and deflating. Gen Z has watched and championed healing and growth with acknowledging phrases like “gaslight,” “trigger,” “toxic,” and “silencing,” and then see them evaporate into irony. The persistence of the language resulting in meaninglessness. When the character Emma says that her boyfriend David is gaslighting her, he responds with exactly that, “The word is meaningless, and all she did was read the internet. Be more original.”

The film is laced with these words and phrases that are pathetically weaponized, “I’m an ally,” “You trigger me,” or “You’re silencing me,” being just a few instances that bring big laughs. It is easy to laugh at this group of friends as they struggle to hold on to the idea of victimhood, fighting not for their lives but their perceived identity. It is far more deadly to be labeled as a “gaslighter” than it is to literally die. Death is temporary, being canceled is infinite. 

95-Minute Advertisement for Cleavage

Since we covered Assassination Nation last episode, I wanted to make space to discuss some real issues from this film. Firstly, this film is about young people but not teens and so any sexual activity is allowed. Just want to put that out there first. When we covered A Nation, my biggest critique was the oversexualization of the teen girls it was purportedly empowering. “Nudity isn’t inherently sexual,” is a true statement but the nudity or framing of those girls was intentionally sexual. Bodiesx3 features some sexual situations but every bit was important to the story and was not overdone in any way. Actually, the reception and commentary from certain viewers of the film made me feel even more strongly about the message that A Nation was supposedly saying. The actress who plays Sophia, Amandla Stenberg, experienced the impact of our toxic, sexualizing culture firsthand. In a review of the film, critic Lena Wilson wrote that the film “doubles as a 95-minute advertisement for cleavage.” Which, mind you, is incredibly false. 

“Nudity isn’t inherently sexual.” In fact, Sophie is never nude. She spends the entire film in a tank top?? Stenberg DM’d Wilson saying, “Your review was great. Maybe if you had gotten your eyes off my tits you would’ve watched the movie!” Which led to Wilson blocking her. Petty AF. There was more to the issue with Wilson complaining that she can’t even critique a movie anymore. Stenberg gave a long response that ended with, “The intention of why I said that – and this is my experience as an actress – it’s quite surprising, I mean, it shouldn’t be surprising I guess at this point – the amount of commentary that I’ve received on my boobs is so extreme, and this has happened since I was a teenager. I could literally be wearing a t-shirt, and just because of the size of my boobs, there will be some sort of sexualization or commentary on my chest. In this movie, I’m wearing a tank top, and I know that when I’m wearing a tank top, the result is there’s going to be some cleavage, because I have boobs. So I knew this comment was mostly directed towards me and I think Lena was trying to make a commentary about A24 sexualizing me, sexualizing my body, exploiting young women in order to sensationalize them in order to make their media more popular. I understand the angle. I can tell you that I wore this tank top in this movie because me and the costume designer thought that it fit the character well. And so I do get tired of people talking about my chest. There seems to be a lot of unwarranted conversation around my chest that kind of baffles me.”  

See Levinson? You don’t need to go out of your way to sexualize young, femme bodies to make the point that people see them as sexual objects - they’re going to do that all on their own anyway. 


Bodies, Bodies, Bodies: I Don't Know About You but Feeling 22 SUCKS

by Kat Kushin

RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

Idk about you, but Feeling 22 SUCKS..

This film was even better with the second watch, which is something the ghouls don’t always get to experience. While watching, and knowing the ending, it allowed for so much more focus to be on the characters instead of the events. So if you do watch, highly recommend watching it twice so you really have the space to witness more. In this watch-through what stood out to me most was the deeply emotional characters, floundering through their early 20s, which in some ways was a reflection of my own 20-something experience. The characters on screen, as absurd and selfish as they can be, were at least from an empathy standpoint - compelling. I related to their pain, fear of not being accepted by their peers, and fear surrounding not being able to be their authentic selves. Our experiences in life have been very different, as I am for sure a millennial, and I have never existed in that income bracket. But insecurity and not being yourself? That is something I understand well. What I related to is that look of desperation and terror in their eyes as they delivered slivers of themselves. Seeing pieces of their masks fall for just a second, and the intense worry that that second will be the reason their friends drop them forever.  It is very much what it is like to live in a neurotypical, oppressive society that expects you to play a part in a very specific way. For GenZ, their part to play is always saying the right thing the right way, and not allowing themselves to ever fail. The magnifying glass of social media has them always scared that they are going to be the sacrifice made to the sun if they move the wrong way or out of line.  

There is also something to be said about the toxicity of inauthentic interactions, and relationships, and how that branches off into enabling behavior as well as self-harm. The method of communication that the characters used was very neurotypical in that every sentence uttered had subtext. In the film, honesty was only delivered to hurt, as a backed into a corner response to feeling threatened. It’s kind of window into how neurotypical culture even hurts neurotypicals, similar to how misogyny also hurts men, etc. As dedicated to identity and self-expression Gen Zers are, our teen years and early 20s seem to be mutually painful and scary in this way. I think because of this I just felt a deep level of sympathy towards these characters and was not rooting for their downfall. At their core, they were all just scared and lonely kids who needed to be protected and weren’t. Either by their families and society, the impending collapse of that society, or even each other. 

The most painful curse that Gen Z seems to be forced to bear is that as Gabe discussed, even their vulnerability is expected to be polished and rehearsed, a performance. As someone painfully aware of the psychological harm associated with masking, I could see the pain in all of their eyes. The constant fear that filled them after saying anything. Using drugs and alcohol as the only release and coping skill they have because dissociative behavior is the only safety they have been taught by social media. Insecurity and non-confrontational communication styles are not unique to Gen Z, we are just more connected to this generation because of social media. There is just more evidence of their existence than any other generation before the internet. We won’t really know the full impact of what the internet has done to them until they reach older ages in my opinion. The reason I say this is cause the teen to early 20s years are commonly volatile. 

Another piece of social relationships that this film does a great job playing upon is that In our adolescent years nothing is more important than fitting in, finding connections, and building friendships. Humans generally crave social acceptance as a means to survival, because our brains know we have higher chances with more bodies. In our youth these connections are significantly more circumstantial than intentional. We become friends with who is in proximity, who have similarities to us be them economic or interests and those connections are made and sometimes maintained well beyond the ideal shelf life. The internet has ways of expanding that scope, or isolating it even more. What we see in Bodies x 3 is a group of friends who don’t particularly like each other, are not honest with each other and who maintain their friendships because they are comfortable. In the film they even call out an instance of this with Emma and Pete Davidson’s character, saying they should have broken up years ago but she didn’t because she was comfortable in it. What we see in this friend group is how comfort prioritizing and confrontation avoiding relationships are inherently enabling. When you avoid confrontation, accountability and honesty, you stifle growth. This film does an amazing job showcasing the deep flaws of this friend group and exacerbating these flaws in a situation of crisis.

What is unique about the Gen Z experience is they were never actually given safe spaces to discover themselves. Where previous generations could flounder and grow without the looming threat of receipts and public permanent character assassinations, Gen Z has been aware of the threat of being canceled from early childhood. There was never the illusion of privacy. Additionally, In a system that does not allow for reformative justice, accountability can look like a death sentence. 

Income bracket and the impact of Social media 

Like previous studies we’ve found on the ghouls, it seems wealth has a negative emotional impact on people. There is something isolating about wealth, especially in countries like America where it is almost inherently made from the suffering of someone else. There is a threshold where wealth can alleviate mental health concerns but once you pass a certain threshold, our brains just foundationally change. Place that on highly emotional 20-year-olds, and it’s as messy the deaths in this film. This is relevant to Bodies x 3 because the characters we are following are all wealthy, aside from one. In an article titled Social media and mental health: The impact on Gen Z they unpack a global survey by the McKinsey Health Institute (MHI), where they examined the complex relationship between social media usage and mental health among Gen Z (ages 18-24). This survey was conducted across 26 countries with over 42,000 respondents, and the survey found that while social media offers positive aspects such as self-expression and social connectivity, it also contributes to negative impacts like FOMO (fear of missing out) and poor body image. Gen Z reports higher instances of poor mental health compared to older generations, with femme-presenting Gen Zers experiencing more negative effects than masc presenting.

Interestingly, older generations, including baby boomers, engage with social media as much as Gen Z, though millennials are the most active users. Despite the negative impacts, more than 50% of respondents from all generations see social media positively for self-expression and connectivity. In high-income countries however, the negative impacts are more pronounced, while in countries like China, Egypt, and Nigeria, Gen Z reports better mental health. We see this reflected in Bodies x3 with all of these friends being deeply unhappy, both with themselves and each other. 

When inundated with how awful society can be, jumping to murder it’s a far stretch

Another interesting piece of this film is similar to Assassination Nation only in the sense that there is a witch hunt. Unlike A Nation however this is shrunk down to a much smaller group of “friends” that in theory is supposed to be more trusting of each other. There is something interesting about placing this on GenZ, a generation that faced a lot of social isolation in their foundational years. Like how we unpacked the impact of social isolation in our Pearl episode, Gen Z has experienced connections in a vastly different way than previous generations. There is always distance between themselves and those they care about because these connections were maintained through a screen. Additionally, every step of the way of their upbringing they had windows into things previous generations did not see. A globalization and impending doom that previous generations only had access to if they were physically present. In an journal article titled: Generation Z, values, and media: from influencers to BeReal, between visibility and authenticity by Simona Tirocchi they discuss the relevance of values in today's fragile societies, influenced by globalization and the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, however, the issue of values assumes renewed importance in a society where the certainties of modernity appear to have crumbled, giving way to situations of great fragility and existential uncertainty (Giddens, 1991; Bauman, 2000, 2007; Stehr, 2001; Rosa, 2010).

These conditions have altered social relationships and the role of digital platforms in self-representation and social interaction. Living through the pandemic and witnessing how little people cared for each other, and people’s capacity for harm, it makes the jump to someone here could be a murderer easier to land on. The bringing up of podcasting and how there is a large section of podcasting dedicated to true crime, documentaries as well showcasing what human beings are capable of, especially unknown ones. The death of Greg is a great example of this, where his death was a result of him being an unknown and very little else. It also showcases how humans can view morality as subjective and not objective. Murder being okay when they thought this man was a murderer, and demonized once they realized he wasn’t.

The journal continues with its study of Gen Z values and states about the participants that: “Participants also describe this society as multicultural [L (f)], complex, yet rife with inequities and contradictions. Some see it as highly individualistic, with “a lack of a sense of community” [G (f)], where the focus is overwhelmingly on the individual. The pandemic exacerbated this sense of individualism, as “university was experienced individually, ‘I study’, but now it seems like a community has [re]formed.” They also discuss a materialistic society, where personal gain, money, career, and self-presentation take precedence, often leading to selfishness [C (f)].

Linking this back to the inability for Gen Z to experience true vulnerability, and therefore being detached from their own growth the article states: “According to other interviewees, it’s a society of prejudice where people often stop at their preconceived notions about others [M (f)]. It’s a society where “anything less than perfect is immediately judged” [S (f)].” The pandemic really shifted GenZ’s sense of self, isolating them and making genuine and real connections harder. When one cannot grow when they are expected to be perfect from the start.


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