The Art of Inventing Anna’s Instagram-Powered Scam

Anna Delvey took the “fake it ’til you make it” advice a bit too literally. From 2013 to 2017, Delvey (aka Anna Sorokin) managed to trick the New York socialite scene into thinking she was a multi-millionaire German heiress by scamming and defrauding banks, hotels and “friends” with the ambition to build its own private members. club and art foundation she was nearly secured for? $25 million. by Netflix Invent Annaan adaptation of Jessica Pressler’s 2018 viral New York magazine article “How Anna Delvey Fooled New York’s Party Animals” plays like an investigative crime drama. From the perspective of a reporter unraveling Anna’s case, Shonda Rhimes’ 9-part limited series examines how this eponymous anti-hero and pseudo-socialite used social media as his secret weapon to climb the social ladder to money and fame.

After the collage-like title screen gives a glimpse into the luxurious, champagne-drinking lifestyle of this unassuming fraudster, Invent Anna displays an embedded disclaimer on the title card that reads: “this entire story is completely true, except for every part that is totally made up.” Such a statement could easily be Instagram’s tagline. This is not a new observation for the square image app; Instagram has been at the center of conversations surrounding the lie of an organized reality for several years now. But what Invent Anna The question is how social media can go beyond mere embellishment, it can be a cataloged wallet of legitimacy through which public perception can be swindled and cultural relevance can be achieved.

Investigative reporter Vivian (Anna Chlumsky) is shown wading through Anna’s (Julia Garner) case during her pregnancy and redecorating her child’s nursery wall with Anna’s Instagram posts. A sordid timeline that looks like a gigantic puzzle of Instagram-sized pieces, Vivian tries to connect the dots between Anna’s social media posts when she realizes how Instagram is this scammer’s greatest asset. . The abundance of information Anna shared in the social media stratosphere (geotags, recorded dates, tagging who she was with, whether she was currently blonde, brunette or strawberry blonde – it’s all there) puts her on the map almost instantly. from suspicion but ultimately left the clues of his downfall.

“The more I know, the less I know,” Vivian professes, sifting through Instagram posts as if they were court documents. As Vivian’s investigation deepens, Invent Anna zoom on the relationship between Anna and her existence on social networks. The show illustrates how Anna’s biggest tactic is to make herself easily consumable through an aesthetic that has mass appeal; Ibiza yachts front row at New York Fashion Week. One look at Anna’s Instagram and you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking she was the latest “it” girl or thriving influencer. Charming, smart and unassuming proves to be a perfect concoction to win over people and their wallets.

There is a circumvention of the traditional dialogue around the manipulation of images and young women; Anna does not change her physical appearance, but the brand image of her reputation. Ultimately, Anna Delvey is an image that Sorokin projected into the world where she uses her white femininity in an attempt at cultural capital. In the mood of time, Invent Anna depicts a working jerk because our 21st century culture rooted in the internet; the show takes the Instagram legend seriously.

Even structurally Invent Anna bends around Anna’s Instagram. The show relies on uncovering the details of Anna’s social posts which, in turn, drive the edit, cutting into flashback sequences to trace Anna’s need for influence. In “Friends in Low Places”, the sixth episode of Invent Anna, a vacation in Marrakech becomes a microcosm for Anna’s tactical manipulation. This episode begins with Anna and her friends arriving at an extravagant retreat, immediately snapping selfies with her “AD” branded phone case and flooding her Instagram page with selfies, spas and sunny views. It reminds her thousands of followers that she’s the kind of person who can vacation whenever and wherever she wants. In reality, however, her credit cards are declined, the police were called, and she was left kicking and screaming in the hotel lobby.

Without having to incorporate this scam into the dialogue, Rhimes’ show uses social media as a visual descriptor of this character’s criminal duplicity. Online, she can present an immaculate image that is meticulously cultivated and can remain unaltered by anyone but her; however, during the holidays in Marrakech, her friends begin to see the reality of “Anna Delvey”. Anna’s presence, subtly fused by Garner, is ghostly in Morocco. She flashes a fleeting smile for an Instagram selfie, then her lips rest horizontally, her bright eyes moving towards the next activity to distract from the failing bank transfers. As this chaos unfolds, her Instagram feed showcases a lavish, relaxing vacation that couldn’t be further from the truth. At this point, Anna has become like a parasite that moves to a new host, abandoning her past skin and friends as she progresses through the social order with each new hotel room.

“There’s a bit of Anna in all of us,” is the Anna defendant’s (Arian Moayed) opening line for his courtroom statement. Although a radical statement, beautification for social gain is an ethical debate. Invent Anna has internally with himself; Can taking a shameless selfie actually be a smart business decision? Either way, social platforms allow Anna to reclaim her voice and steer the narrative of her reputation in her own direction. Rhimes’ show follows the ongoing reinvention of Anna Delvey, circulating the important question: Who is the “real” Anna Delvey? And, in fact, does it matter? Perhaps Anna reinvented the mentality of “fake it ’til you make it”, even if her motto was rather “fake it ’til you invent it”. The result? Even when the journey ends, the image is paramount.

Emily Maskell is a freelance film critic, writer on UK culture and entertainment. You can follow his antics on Twitter: @EmMaskell

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Dora W. Clawson