Who doesn’t love food? It’s the sustenance of life, and now, is becoming an important sustenance for Instagram clout. Well, at least on the #foodstagram corner of the platform anyway. So, if you still haven’t managed to find your way up there, this is your cue. Disclaimer: arm yourself with plenty of tissues to wipe the corner of your mouth before diving in. Racking up a whopping 94 million posts, the level of engagement is making me hungry enough to become the next hot-shot food influencer. But to live that dream I have a major hurdle to overcome.
Chances are that you’ll be too far-fetched to reel in those precious Instagram hearts on a diet like mine: beans on toast and McDonald’s veggie wraps. Hardly gourmet by any stretch. The #foodstagram community—saturated with over-priced epicurean dishes—embodies the sickening and often dangerous ideology that social media as a whole perpetuates: the wealthier the person, the higher the potential ceiling of their representation of life. In other words, “clout correlates with wealth” as put by MSCHF (pronounced ‘mischief’)—a Brooklyn-based art collective on a mission to change this narrative.
In their recent drop, Stolen Stories, they’re inviting you to a buffet filled with free food Instagram stories. Finally, I can fake my way to the top, tricking my followers into thinking I have enough cash to fine dine with wine. Ah, nothing like a good old Robin Hood story—stealing from the rich and giving to those too broke to afford a Michelin 5-star.
Whether you want to become the next big ‘foodfluencer’ or hit your ex up with some much-deserved FOMO, it’s now possible—and the premise is fairly simple. Working with a number of companies, MSCHF has compiled a library of Instagram stories snapping the most lavish (and arguably extortionate) dishes from across the US. Simply visit their website, select your city and restaurant, then download an Instagram story to post on your own profile. The possibilities to fake your way into popular restaurants are endless, from Sushi Nakazawa in New York City to Gordon Ramsey Steak in Las Vegas—who’s the idiot sandwich now, Ramsey?
Jokes aside, the drop is far from a gimmick. It’s actually a powerful message, shedding light on the broken and unhealthy models of social media. On their site, the art collective proudly writes that they’re “democratising clout” by ripping “Instagram stories off rich people’s expensive food so you can flex like those suckers who paid $100 for one scallop on a 20-inch plate.” I guess you can say they’re taking the phrase ‘eat the rich’ quite literally.
The art collective continued by highlighting how “the drive towards ever more conspicuous social content incentivises the wealthy to showcase their wealth in exhaustive detail. Consequently, the literal day-to-day differences between the experiences of ordinary people and the wealthy are more transparent than ever before.”
“Social media content is an extension of affluence. At the same time, digital assets are completely duplicable, and therefore, under the right circumstances, valueless. Stolen Stories democratises a certain genre of clout—otherwise anonymous documentation of expensive food. Unable to give everyone access to the food, we’ll steal its shadow. Stolen Stories gives food flexes to all.”
This hasn’t been the first creation MSCHF has blessed our planet with. In the past, the collective has birthed MasterWiki, its own WikiHow-style ripoff of MasterClass along with a live recreation of all 201 episodes of The Office series over Slack. Just last year, MSCHF announced its plans to recruit anti-influencers for upto $50,000. Targeting brands like Amazon, Facebook, Fashion Nova and TikTok, the Anti Advertising Advertising Club wanted TikTok influencers to attack TikTok on its own platform for “content suppression,” Fashion Nova for “stealing designs and using sweatshops,” and so on.
And if you still can’t seem to place MSCHF in the back of your head, I present to you the infamous Jesus Shoes and Satan Shoes. While Jesus Shoes were a pair of customised white Air Max 97s with soles brimming with water from the Jordan River that the Brooklyn collective had blessed by a priest, Satan Shoes were made in collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X in a PR stunt to promote the artist’s latest single Montero (Call Me By Your Name). I’m pretty sure the latter was kind of hard to miss, given the controversial lawsuit Nike itself filed against the collective.
After all that reminiscing, however, I’m here to remind you of the fact that MSCHF drops a stunt every second and fourth Monday. So until then, feel free to channel your inner ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ energy and head over to Stolen Stories’ website. In the end, what’s real on Instagram anyway?
If you’ve never heard of MSCHF (pronounced ‘mischief’) before, it is an internet creative collective best known for its many viral stunts, from MasterWiki, its own WikiHow-style rip-off of MasterClass and its live recreation of all 201 episodes of the American version of The Office series over Slack to its infamous Jesus Shoes—there must have been at least one of them you saw on your feed at one point. Well, MSCHF is already back for more, and this time, it wants you to become an anti-influencer. Are you up for it?
On Monday 12 October, the collective posted a series of jingles on TikTok under the username @antiadadclub targeting the biggest companies out there as well as social networks’ primary sources of funding. While some of MSCHF’s jingles call out the general concept, others take on specific brands the creative group has decided to target. Amazon, Facebook, Fashion Nova, Comcast, the NFL, Palantir, Purdue Pharma, and even TikTok itself are all on the list. But why—what exactly is the point of MSCHF’s drop #31, the Anti Advertising Advertising Club?
“We had our team [do some] digging on them, and found nine that had some form of dirt we didn’t like and wanted to bring to light more,” Daniel Greenberg, MSCHF’s creative strategist, told The Verge. “Attack TikTok for content suppression. Attack Fashion Nova for stealing designs and using sweatshops. Attack the NFL for disregarding player safety. Attack Purdue Pharma for opioid crisis profiteering.”
For this stunt, MSCHF is planning to give out $50,000 in total to TikTok creators who use the jingles and reach a certain threshold of views. Each brand has a different payout and different required number of views, so people who hit 5,000 views for attacking TikTok on its own platform will get $50, while people who amass 50,000 views attacking Amazon will only get $100.
“The idea was kinda two fold,” Greenberg explained to The Verge. “The first thought was, ‘What would ads be that brands would never run because they’d never bash themselves?’ The second was, ‘How do you let anyone become ‘an influencer?’ but of course MSCHF has to do that in a creative, almost destructive way.”
Already, most of MSCHF’s karaoke-style tracks have over 10,000 views, with the one ditching TikTok nearing 50,000 views and the Billie Eilish remix against Elon Musk and Tesla nearing 30,000 views. Of course, the aim is for at least one of those songs dunking on one of the corporations to go viral.
So, if you’re on TikTok and you’ve always dreamt of having a go at Musk or Bezos, what are you waiting for? If not, MSCHF drops a stunt every second and fourth Monday, the next being in a week and five days from now. Let’s wait and see what other tricks the collective has got.