Life is Strange: Go Fuck Your Selfie

So I finally caved and bought Life Is Strange, DONTNOD’s (known for Remember Me) Telltale-esque game about choice and, most significantly, time. I’ve been following the series on and off on YouTube — blasphemy, I know — since it came out but the story was just so compelling that I wanted to play the game just to experience things firsthand. Funnily enough this was also the way I ended up buying Telltale’s The Walking Dead game. I guess I’m just a sucker for story games with choices that actually make a difference in its plot.

At the moment I’ve only finished episode one but I’ll get to the rest as soon as I can (probably after I finish writing this and sleep). I just wanted to put some words down about something in Life Is Strange that I thought was kind of interesting — Max’s selfies.

Spoilers under cut.

Throughout the episode and in later ones, Max is constantly being made fun of for her main method of photography, which is taking self portraits with her Polaroid (instant?) camera. I found this odd — after all, the selfie has been labelled a phenomenon and is pretty much ubiquitous in social media. Why is Max getting so much flak for something that people do all the time on a whim?

I thought that maybe it was because Max was unpopular or uncool which warranted the teasing and mean graffiti scattered around the campus about her “shitty selfies”, but when Max enters Victoria’s room to snoop for evidence she expresses surprise that even Victoria takes selfies. The stylish, chic queen bee and the concept of selfies seem mismatched in the world of Life Is Strange, Arcadia Bay. This stood out to me considering the amount of pop culture references and even the appearance of Facebook in-game, suggesting that the setting of the game was close to our own. So from this it can be insinuated that selfies are unappealing and perhaps an embarrassing thing (as Victoria only keeps them in her room).

Another thing, selfies tend to be associated with the vain and self-absorbed — but Max is neither of these things (conversely, Victoria and the rest of the Vortex Club seem to be, at least a little). Also, selfies tend to be staged, even controlled, but Max has no qualms whipping out her camera whenever and taking a photo without any sort of preparation. I guess it’s some kind of artistic instinct that makes Max do things like use flash photography on herself in the middle of a lesson — maybe her point is to capture herself in her most natural state which actually ties in very well with revelations in later episodes.

All these little oddities don’t seem like much for now, but they certainly do tell players that Arcadia Bay isn’t a completely accurate reflection of our current world (yes, I know, she can travel through time) and that some things are a bit… off. Really looking forward to episode five now and seeing how that all ties in.

(Random observation but I don’t get how Max manages to look so good in her totally unscripted flash selfies. Even painstakingly shot pictures of myself with makeup on and good lighting make me look like shit. Ugh. Fictional characters.)

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2 thoughts on “Life is Strange: Go Fuck Your Selfie

  1. It’s so cool! I was wondering about this too.

    I always answer no when someone asks me to be in a photo as a joke. I list the reason as “Cameras steal your souls”, and laugh it off.
    But really, I don’t know what’s more poetically tragic.

    The fact that people have to doll themselves up to be comfortable looking at themselves, their souls, in pictures, when reflexively we all know– I mean, if we can remember– what we were feeling at that time was this weird mix of angst, unpreparedness, anxiousness, and pure unadulterated falseness.

    I mean, I know we must all be gods in our own minds, but rats in our foreminds, but still. To even try to be pose and ‘be cute’ in our faux beauty is detrimental. Because in a flash, our souls are captured in a strange way, and it’s ugly only because we know we faked it.

    We copped out of doing a real photo of oneself… Of one’s soul.
    And so we look at the Selfie and cringe.

    At least that’s what I’ve been thinking of for a while now… Thanks for sharing your articles! Putting yourself, your thoughts and feelings, out there is brave.
    I hope you at least acknowledge that inert bravery you have to push through any problems you have. Tears don’t mean weakness. It took me a long long long time to realise this.

    I hope you take even less of that time.

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  2. Hi, I’ll try to explain why I don’t think these things are odd at all.

    “Throughout the episode and in later ones, Max is constantly being made fun of for her main method of photography, which is taking self portraits with her Polaroid (instant?) camera. I found this odd — after all, the selfie has been labelled a phenomenon and is pretty much ubiquitous in social media. Why is Max getting so much flak for something that people do all the time on a whim?”

    Because she is among people who aspire to be professional artists and they are held to a higher standard. Selfies are as you say common and common is perceived as being of low value as opposed to something that is unique. It’s almost the definition of an elitist to consider her-/himself above popular culture. Selfies are pop.

    “So from this it can be insinuated that selfies are unappealing and perhaps an embarrassing thing (as Victoria only keeps them in her room).”

    Depending on who you ask (and how old this person is) this is true in real life as well. I personally know only two persons who make selfies and one of them was made fun of at work. When I went to Japan, we were confronted with selfie sticks for the first time and it was unfathomable to us, why one wouldn’t just ask her friend for a photo or a stranger for group photos.

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