The Other McCain

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The Instagram Influencer Grift: What Is Caroline Calloway’s ‘Brand’ Value Now?

Posted on | September 12, 2019 | 1 Comment

Caroline Calloway spending Daddy’s money in Europe, 2013.

Back in January, I told you the story of “Caroline Calloway and the ‘Creativity Workshop’ Influencer Tour From Hell”:

Parlaying a popular Instagram feed (and maybe also a YouTube channel) into a lucrative income is a matter of “branding,” and one of the most popular “brands” of recent years is a young woman named Caroline Calloway. She comes from money. Her parents sent her to an elite boarding school in New Hampshire, and she attended New York University ($69,984 a year, including room and board). In 2013, at age 21, she spent the summer traveling in Europe, meeting good-looking Italian guys, and posting what she hashtagged #adventuregram photos with long storytelling captions. and then in the fall, she went to Cambridge University in England, studying art history and — ZOOM! — she soared to Instagram superstardom.

Based on her Instagram fame, Calloway scored a $500,000 book deal for a memoir at age 24, but failed to deliver the manuscript and then attempted to retrieve her fortunes by organizing a “Creativity Workshop” tour that turned into a disaster nearly as notorious as the Fyre Festival.

Now comes the exclamation mark, in the form of a tell-all article by Calloway’s former NYU classmate Natalie Beach who, it turns out, not only acted as a ghostwriter on Calloway’s #adventuregram posts, but also co-wrote the book proposal that got that $500,000 advance, and tried to help Calloway produce the manuscript before the would-be memoirist proved unwilling to cooperate. As Beach says: “Caroline claimed her failure to write the manuscript was an intentional stand against the patriarchy and a publishing industry that insisted her life story be defined by the men she dated.” Calloway’s failure actually had a lot more to do with her Adderall addiction and her infinite phoniness.

A couple of excerpts from Beach’s account:

It was around this time [2015, at Cambridge University] that Caroline revealed to me that for all these years, she had been lying about her origin story. She hadn’t, in fact, gotten famous from a picture of macarons on Instagram’s favorites page. The real story, she told me, is she took a series of meetings with literary professionals who informed her that no one would buy a memoir from a girl with no claim to fame and no fan base. And so Caroline made one online, taking out ads designed to look like posts to promote her account and buying tens of thousands of followers.

And again:

If it was just money and fame she was after, all she had to do was be quiet and let me do the work. She could have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, gone on the tour she always wanted, and recorded the audiobook in that beguiling voice of hers. But she had to be the one to tell her own life story, even if she couldn’t. Caroline was caught between who she was and who she believed herself to be, which in the end may have been the most relatable thing about her. This is why, when people ask me if Caroline is a scammer, I try to explain that if she is, her first mark is always herself.

Two words: Impostor syndrome.

Caroline Calloway knew she was not who she had made the world believe she was. She had created a public image that was essentially false and, when she was required to commit this image to print — to tell her life story — she experienced an existential crisis. It was one thing to post a photo to Instagram with a clever caption (and editorial assistance from her uncredited helper Natalie), but to compile these scattered vignettes into a narrative and say, “This is my life”? No, she couldn’t do it.

All of this — the Adderall addiction, buying fake followers on Instagram, failing to follow through on her promises — is symptomatic of Caroline Calloway’s narcissistic personality disorder. She was obsessed with creating an image of herself, and used this image to exploit others.

Caroline Calloway’s most recent portrait.

One of the themes in Natalie Beach’s story is how she always felt like the ugly girl in the shadow of Caroline Calloway’s beauty. Some guys might look at Calloway’s photos and say, “Not even an 8,” but keep in mind that in 2013-2015, when she was a rising Instagram star, she was in her early 20s, at her peak SMV. Even a girl who rates no better than a solid 7 can have lots of #adventuregram fun at 21 or 22, if she’s got the requisite combination of nice teeth, perky breasts and Daddy’s money.

Also, well . . . white privilege.

Let me say some things so politically incorrect that Heidi Beirich at the SPLC might find them interesting: Despite all the left-wing demonization of white people that has saturated elite culture in recent years, the Nordic type is still quite a popular commodity in the dating market. A young white person who is generally attractive won’t be lonely, no matter how many academics, journalists and politicians blame them for all the evil in the world. My youngest son — so blond-haired and blue-eyed he could be a poster boy for the Hitlerjugend — is remarkably popular among his peers of all races. While the paranoid prophets of demographic doom obsess over declining white fecundity (“It’s the birth rates,” as the New Zealand shooter proclaimed in his manifesto), life is not so bad for young people who were lucky enough to be born white. Unless you’re a pathetic Beta loser, which my son is not. The doomsayers are misguided, and their fear-based perspective on demographics is not helpful. But I digress . . .

It was easy for Caroline Calloway, a white girl with nice teeth and perky breasts, to enjoy her #adventuregram life and even get a book deal from a major publisher for a memoir at age 24. She’d just finished college and, like so many upper-middle-class white girls, had the cushion of Daddy’s money to support her Instagram celebrity dream life. That’s the dirty little secret behind so many of these victim-of-the-patriarchy types: They’re really just spoiled brats — Daddy’s Little Princess, grumbling because she’s not treated with the deference to which she considers herself entitled by birth. Remember that Caroline Calloway’s parents were willing to spend $70,000 a year to send her to NYU, send her to Europe for a summer and then send her to Cambridge for grad school! And yet somehow she still thinks she’s oppressed?

Her reaction to Natalie Beach’s story was typically narcissistic. Last month, apparently aware that Beach was working on a tell-all, Calloway wrote a piece for Refinery 29 making fun of how her failed “Creativity Workshop” tour had given her a reputation as a scammer. One could read into that an attempt to “get ahead of the story” by pretending she felt no real embarrassment about her failures, and therefore who cares?

In fact, however, she cared very deeply, as became clear after Calloway got a call from a fact-checker and completely freaked out. Her Instagram feed turned into a frenetic spin machine as she tried to turn the story around and rescue what remained of her precious image. Natalie Beach’s story generated more headlines, not flattering to Calloway:

Caroline Calloway, her “one-woman Fyre Fest,”
and her ex-best friend Natalie, explained

Vox

Caroline Calloway’s ex-best friend Natalie Beach
has published a story about all her scams

Cosmopolitan

Who is Caroline Calloway, and why can’t
the internet stop talking about her?

Guardian

Who Is Caroline Calloway? Natalie Beach,
Influencer’s Ghostwriter, Claims
Instagram Star Bought Followers

Newsweek

You can go check out Caroline Calloway’s Instagram feed to see how she’s still desperately trying to rescue her “brand” from the wreckage.

It’s possible to fake your way to success — what do the Kardashians actually do, that anyone should want to “keep up” with them? — but the key to such a money-for-nothing scam is to prevent your audience from getting wise to the total bogusness of your scam. Caroline Calloway has left enough bridges burning behind her that she isn’t likely to get many new opportunities to cash in on whatever value her “brand” still has.

UPDATE: Rotten Chesnuts weighs in:

I know this kind of girl well, quite simply, because she’s every single college girl in America.  I’m retired now, praise Buddha, but in my career I must’ve had ten thousand Caroline Calloways pass through my classroom.  It’s important that we get to know them, because they are, quite literally, our future.
And yeah, before you ask — they’re ALL like that.  Why do you think I took early retirement? . . .
Caroline Calloway is a cute, rich girl who wasn’t satisfied with being cute and rich.  She wanted to be famous, too, and so she set about constructing an online identity for herself. . . .
As incredible as this is, chicks care about this bulls–t. “Educated” women, with fancy degrees from big-league schools, writing for posh media outlets in the cultural capital of the world.  The rights and wrongs of it don’t matter, because the answer is: “Who cares?”  Whether she’s a lunatic scammer, or merely a lunatic, doesn’t matter at all.  She’s toxic, and any sane person would change zip codes to avoid her.

Read the whole thing — it’s excellent, and also depressing.



 

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