Jawline (2019)

  |  Documentary


Jawline (2019) Poster

The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.


5.7/10
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27 August 2019 | gothdiscoqueen
5
| Too Superficial
As a teenager who has grown up in the infamous Lynn Garden Drive area of Kingsport, the producer of this film & Austyn both missed a great opportunity to truly expose what holds youth back from fame, especially in a rural area. Many will argue that this can't be considered a rural area because we have a huge factory, an entire area of mansions, and we're ONLY 30 minutes from a decent mall. But there's a class split between the rich and poor, that many are too blind or privileged to see. You don't understand it or see it until you live on a street without sidewalks, and there are people tweaking out constantly walking down the road & you can't go outside, you go to sleep at night and your leaking, molding ceiling drenches your mattress. Half of the people your millennial sister went to high school with are on meth, have kids who have kids, and they're all in the arrested papers from an array of domestic assault to drug charges. You can't join any extracurriculars to become a teacher's star studded favorite, because you can't afford the thousands of dollars worth of band fees each year. And there's still not enough money with both of your parents working jobs, because the best you can get without going back to college is a factory job.

There are youth way worse off than Austyn, but there are also youth way better off than Austyn, youth that could skyrocket way past his level of fame with the money they have. Austyn truly missed an opportunity to expose beyond a couple short, jabbing statements & briefly heart wrenching scenes- the bitter truth. If you are born into trash in a town like this, you are most likely going to be stuck in trash. Even with the small boost of fame he received, he wasn't lucky enough to raise the bar. He's aware that this town doesn't have much to offer, he's aware that there's not easy help for kids that have lost their way, and not fully exposing those issues lost a lot of potential sympathy & documentary content beyond scenes of goofing off and flashing the luxurious life of being on tour.

If it wasn't for the unpleasant, anxiety inducing struggles that low-income youth have to suffer, maybe Austyn would've had the energy or funds to continue on without falling behind. But in a town like this, it's not always enough to just chase your dreams, you really do have to put in work, and go through disappointment, being more broke than you ever have before one week just to hopefully have the most money you've had ever, the next. It's a lot of sacrifices, staying the course, and not becoming a product of your environment, especially when part of your environment has been abusive.

If the film hadn't tiptoed around so many negative subjects relating to the environment he's dealt with, maybe audiences would be more sympathetic, maybe we would be able to expose the true grit of escaping a town with low opportunity and low expectations, and we wouldn't be a lost statistic. Being trapped as a product of your environment doesn't just happen in your television dramas, or in a famously notorious town like Chicago, it happens in places like Kingsport too. Austyn is awfully inspirational, and luckily still conventionally attractive enough to grab attention from masses, but he's looking to the masses of people to inspire.

Maybe next time we'll get a film that isn't afraid to go further than the surface, and raise the bar for rural towns.

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