What: A darkly funny (but mostly dark) look at a future in which users can rent friendship.
Who: Writer-director Carlyn Hudson.
Why we care: In a way, people have always been able to rent friends. What are fraternities and sororities, for instance, but means with which to purchase a thriving social life? However, as we barrel toward a future in which all relationships are not only transactional but commodifiable, buying friends is destined to become a routine part of life beyond college. Hell, people have already been renting professional bridesmaids for years. The new short film, Waffle, may be about one specific instance of TaskRabbit-y friendship gone wrong, but the real villain isn’t the spoiled waffle heiress at its center, but rather the gig economy.
Waffle, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, starts during a purchased slumber party in progress. The heiress, played by Katie Marovitch, eggs on her friend-analog, played by Kerry Barker, to tell a fake story about her own dating life, correcting her where necessary to make the story more to her liking. Katie has reduced friendship to an interactive performance, which she controls. Kerry is less a sounding board or companion than she is a fleshy marionette.
As the story unfolds, we see Kerry’s unease with the situation, which is only rivaled by her desperation to escape credit card debt. Katie wields that desperation as a weapon, in order to nullify Kerry’s rising discomfort. Although the story ends up going to a darker place than what a typical example of rented friendship in the future might look like, the point still stands. Sometimes being crushed under the boot of late capitalism feels like a pillow fight.
Watch the full film below.