The movie "Nerve" is an action-packed thriller which appeals to a young audience. But some of the concepts of the plot are actually quite thought-provoking and worth a closer look.
If you have not seen "Nerve," go see it and then read this article. If you have not seen it and do not plan on seeing it, read this article and then go see it. And for those of us who are already in the know, read on:
Vee is a protagonist who many of us can identify with, as she often feels boring. She has played by the rules all her life and now she wonders whether she should be more adventurous. When she signs up to play Nerve and take on various dares, she is trying to rewrite her story so that she feels fun and interesting. Boredom also drives the Nerve watchers to go online and watch all the dares and write in their own dares to see players do risky, interesting things.
So what are the themes or morals of the story? I see two major messages in this movie: Firstly, there is the theme of popularity contests. Vee lives in the shadow of her friend who is a risk-taker and more popular than she. The second theme is online anonymity. The watchers are all sitting at home thinking up funny dares to make the players try and they are anonymous online.
I think the story of "Nerve" is meant to make us question how important popularity really is to us. Ask yourself, what would or wouldn't you do to be popular. Would you kiss a stranger like Vee does? Would you walk across a ladder seven stories up? Where is the line? How much value do you place on popularity and does your self-image completely depend on how many people think you are hot and courageous?
The second theme of online anonymity is meant to make viewers wonder whether they are accountable for their actions. Anything on the internet is just virtual, or at least that is what we like to think. But sometimes people are affected by what happens online. For instance, sometimes people are cyber-bullied and verbally abused on anonymous websites. Other times, songs and movies are illegally downloaded or watched, causing the content to become popular while the creator or musician remains unpaid.
"Nerve" teaches us that the internet is not a fake reality where nothing you do matters. The internet is a place, just like any other place, where lives are changed. For Vee, the watchers put her life in danger and she must explain to them how the fact that they are anonymous does not mean they should not be held accountable. When they force her to have a duel with guns for their entertainment she shows them the truth of their actions; that if she dies they are accessories to murder.
So think about your online actions. How many times have you written an insult online and not felt guilty about it, because no one can trace it back to you? What other ways are you selling your morals short on the web? Do you ghost write? Do you help companies advertise secretly by taking customer surveys for money? Do you play online games and spend money to advance to the next level without having actually learned and gained the skills required to advance on your own merit?
"Nerve" teaches us to be better people. It warns against selling yourself out for popularity or money. This movie calls for compassion and accountability because even online, we are people interacting in a community and our actions affect one another.