Brad's Status: Nothing good ever comes of Facebook creeping

Ben Stiller stars as a man who questions his life after comparing himself to his friends on social media.

Ben Stiller stars in the life-reckoning comedy Brad’s Status.


Ben Stiller stars in the life-reckoning comedy Brad’s Status.

In Brad’s Status, funnyman Ben Stiller falls into an existential crisis when he begins assuming his estranged friends on social media are more successful than him.

It may be a role most of us relate to, but for Stiller the role was definitely a stretch.

“I’m not on Facebook which I think is probably the main way people keep up with each other,” admitted Stiller recently during the Toronto International Film Festival. “I just never got in on Facebook when it started out and I still don’t understand it — which is why I’m not a billionaire!”

While the Zoolander star does admit to using Twitter occasionally to promote charity causes, the desire to dissect former colleagues’ often-misleading photos on Facebook has never interested Stiller to the same obsessive level as his character.

Directed by veteran scribe Mike White (Beatriz at Dinner), Brad’s Status plays as much on the titular character’s insecurities as it does on the week he spends touring prospective colleges with his son. As such, Brad’s Status is a cautionary tale about losing the true meaning of personal wealth.

“Capitalism creates this feeling that you need more, you’ve got to consume more, have more — and I do think that social media (perpetuates it),” said the 47-year-old filmmaker. “You see these people living these extravagant lifestyles and you think that’s some sort of reflection on success or a better life and I think it’s personally crippling.”

White adds that show business specifically amplifies that experience; at least it certainly seemed slightly more prominent while penning the screenplay anyway.

“I do feel like in Hollywood people are winning the lottery all around you,” said White, referencing how the simple act of driving past movie billboards can illicit a jealous pang. “Every actor, any movie that comes out, they realize ‘oh, they didn’t come to me for that!’ So you get rejected without even stepping into the ring.”

While Stiller’s abstinence from Facebook allows the actor a mild immunity from friendly competition in social media, he does admit — success aside — there’s always an inevitability to career comparison.

“Actors — there’s no way you cannot do that. It’s just how much you allow it to affect you and your life and your choices.”

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