But I couldn’t. Believe me, I tried …
Against my better judgement, I decided to watch XOXO, Netflix’s attempt at capturing the essence of the EDM generation on film. I went into it with expectations that hovered just above the ground, expecting a “We Are Your Friends” version 2.0. I was also prepared to spend the next 90 minutes scoffing and rolling my eyes at the ludicrous characters and the ignorant, out-of-touch portrayal of the dance scene.
Truth be told, I wanted to hate the movie and everything about it.
But I couldn’t. Believe me, I tried. I wanted so badly to call bullshit on everything XOXO had to offer, but I just couldn’t. I did plenty of eye rolling, but it was due to the fact that the movie was actually kind of accurate. As painful as it is to admit, the few hour film basically hits the nail on the head.
In terms of cinematic merit, XOXO isn’t going to be winning any Oscars this year — that's our prediction. At best, it’s a watchable piece of sugary sweet, neon eye candy for when there's nothing else to watch on a weekend night you actually stayed in. The acting is admittedly not … terrible.
The cast is good looking, has decent delivery without seeming too forced and awkward, and actually looks like a bunch of festie-loving millennials (ergo, the point). The film was partially shot on location at an actual music festival too, which gives the set an air of authenticity. The plot, it's a bit outlandish, but hey, no one was really expecting some intensely layered saga with interesting development and story archs. Despite being covered in a thick layer of cheese, the movie was bearable, even a little enjoyable at times …
In terms of the movie’s portrayal of the EDM generation: Let’s just reiterate it was frustratingly on point. XOXO has it all: The aspiring bedroom producer. A douchebag superstar DJ named Avilo (a not-so-subtle mashup of Avicii and Diplo). The drugged out wooks, coke-snorting groupies, sleazy artist managers, chest-bumping bros, and jaded old school ravers — all the EDM stereotypes are present and accounted for. The staff clearly did their homework. Although, the cookie-cutter characters are a bit exaggerated to make a point, but anyone who has spent time in the EDM scene would likely agree that those people definitely exist. The characters, however, weren’t the only thing that were more than a little accurate. Shady business practices, ghost producing, rampant sexuality, everyone claiming to know how the universe works — even some of the minute details weren’t totally off base.
Yet, as much as I don’t want to admit it, XOXO shines a reasonably honest light on the EDM generation without coming off as being too judgmental. Sure, to a roomful of Baby Boomers, this movie would likely have a similar effect as Reefer Madness did when it first came out. (I can almost feel my mother judging me if she saw this, finally realizing what goes on at a music festival.) But to someone who has been there and interacted with these people, this movie feels oddly genuine.
Yes, it shows a cast of characters with questionable maturity, but it also shows that all of those people — different as they are — still keep things uber PLUR at the end of the day. Naturally, it acknowledges the focus on drug use and partying, but it isn’t overly critical of it. It certainly shows that the whole EDM scene is a little superficial, but it also shows that plenty people are genuinely passionate about the music and the culture. I expected a cheesy parody of a culture that I love and a half-baked attempt to capture the essence of a generation, but what I got was surprisingly relatable story of a bunch of young people just trying to deal with the daunting prospect of growing up.