AI Chatbot Out-trolls the Troll: A Cautionary Tale Directed by SAMAN KESH & JUSTIN HOPKINS

September 18th, 2020

What happens when a sentient AI chatbot gets angry and gains access to an internet troll’s hentai and CP folder and exposes his darkest secrets? Every 4chan edgelord’s worst nightmare is brought to horrifyingly fucked up life in this cautionary spin on cancel culture.

Set to the track “Algorithm” by Makeup and Vanity Set (MAVS), in this dystopian lockdown-produced scenario a human protagonist gets doxed by a savage chatbot. The absurd yet poignant narrative leans into the more sinister aspects of internet phenomena, exploring themes such as AI’s hold on humanity, racist and misogynistic trolling, and the world’s obsession with cancellation. 

The film’s directors, Saman Kesh and Justin Hopkins, call this type of filmmaking pokey provokey. As they said in a joint statement: “Suffering from quarantine fatigue and enraged at the state of the world, especially as POC creatives, we wanted to vent, but in a way that felt productive, useful, and entertaining. So we channeled our boredom and anger towards creating something provocative but hopefully enlightening.”

Of the film, MAVS (who is known for his dark-synth albums featuring AI-generated vocals and video game soundtracks) says, “Saman and Justin made an unflinching, uncomfortable video that speaks to what so many people are feeling. Are we good people or bad people? Who decides? What happened to empathy? These questions get asked in a blunt way, which at this point feels like the only way to ask them.”

Kesh is an Iranian-American filmmaker who is known for his high-energy narrative music videos, commercials and short films. Kesh is repped by Golden LA for commercials, and CAA and Grandview for TV and Film. Los Angeles-based artist Justin Daashuur Hopkins is a sought-after maker of film and mixed media video recognized for his multidisciplinary approach and innovative vision. 

“One of us is from the enemy country of Iran and another a mixed race Japanese. While our specific experiences with racism have been different from one another, here we wanted to focus on the closet trolls of the dark web. They hide, hurt, and provoke for pleasure. We invite you to smile and examine your reactions as you watch.”