FAST FOOD is primarily a project about online dating and the assumptions we make about people. It was conceived last summer while I was thinking about my own experience with online dating and traversing the idea of being perceived by strangers as a potential match, whilst doing the same to others. The title FAST FOOD was given to the project after seeing urban dictionary name Tinder as “the McDonalds for sex.” This lead me to start asking questions about the way we view people in a culture so rooted in the digital, and how we can counteract objectified interactions, allowing us to create more understanding, humanistic and empathetic connections with people who are different from ourselves. Hook up culture is something that fascinates me, and I have complete respect for those who enter into it with the want for mutual and beneficial pleasure, rather than pure self-gain. I believe that humans, and especially those brought up with everything just a click away, are so used to quick, easy, disposable thrills, and we forget to step back and unlock nuance and knowledge. I wanted FAST FOOD to stand for this idea, where you are presented with a film showing different people to evaluate on a surface level basis, whilst the website provides you with open access to find out more about the person’s identity, and the intersectional ways different parts of it might affect them and their interactions with online dating and the world in general. This choice has lead me to walk a tightrope of working particularly with the most fetishized or shamed minority groups of people in order to create more understanding, whilst aiming not to essentialize or minimise their being into identity boxes.
FAST FOOD and the way I have chosen to present this project is just one iteration of what could be many exciting and interesting mediums. The time constraints, funding and self-lead style of the project means that, although I have tried my hardest to provide a diverse group of people, I have not succeeded in showing just how much diversity humanity has to offer. Instead of spreading myself thinly, I chose to concentrate on 9 different characters and ground their expression through research. I wanted to ensure that I covered minority groups in particular, whilst also looking at popular culture and trends online. As the project focuses on the idea of surface assumption and accessible knowledge (if you choose to seek it), I wanted the website to share my own research, my assistant researcher Lydia’s research, and also suggestions from other people, so you can find varied and more rounded content than if it was just coming from me. At its core, FAST FOOD is a social project.
I knew from the start of this project that I wanted to create a platform that would enable me to pass the mic to those who deserve it. I also knew that it was impossible for me to not bring my own experiences and ingrained assumptions and/or prejudices to the project. I have tried my hardest to create only the foundation through the animation of the film to then allow others to build upon it and take it in directions removed from myself as the project has progressed. Examples of this can be seen through the filmmaking process, giving our sound collaborators the freedom to create soundscapes that felt right for their character(s), rather than me telling them how I believe they should see them, or how they should want the audience to see them. Each sound collaborator brings to the table their own identity, their own experience in sound design, music or production, and has therefore pushed the characters further into collaborative pieces, rather than stagnating at my own perceptions. I wanted to create a sound collaborator team that was as diverse as possible, and although I haven’t been able to do this in many ways, I have in others such as gender, queerness and nationality/location, and I am happy to be able to say that.
Playing with assumptions has been challenging, it’s made me question a lot about myself and how I perceive others. I’ve had to take a long look and assess my own unconscious bias, prejudices, and educate myself to be better. My main take away from this project has been how we can never know everything about someone or how their identity has affected them. Just because someone is queer doesn’t mean that their experience will be the same as another queer persons. There is so much room for nuance and difference, and more research. I now know, coming to the end of this project, that all we can do is try to look deeper, more compassionately, and more at the grey area. I hope this project provides you with questions, answers, and a whole heap of new material to look through. If you see anything you like, don’t like, or want to contribute to, our email is firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you.
Issy Stephens – Director, Producer & Animator of FAST FOOD
Below you will find a sketch breakdown of the way FAST FOOD was made.