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?