We live in an age in which internet subculture has become so expansive that its very references and behaviors impact “actual” culture at a constant rate, making it difficult to tell the two apart. In regards to the entertainment industry, not only has this phenomenon brought about new forms of entertainment, but it has also allowed prior forms to be distributed in increasingly creative ways.
When the accessibility of the present age meets a multitalented performer, the possibilities are endless. Few exemplify this enjoyable union more than Troye Sivan: teenager, recording artist, actor, vlogger/comedic sketch artist and self-proclaimed internet addict. How might you know Troye? Perhaps you know him as young Wolverine in “X-Men Origins,” or from his songs or his dedicated social networking presence, most notably his YouTube channel, which has over one million subscribers and 35 million views and counting.
Or perhaps you don’t know him, but that’s all about to change.
Troye Sivan, born in 1995 in South Africa but raised in Australia, is a jack-of-all-entertainment-trades whose career began primarily in vocal performance of an inspirational and philanthropic vein. Troye sang at the Channel Seven Perth Telethon each year from ages 11-13. Proceeds from this telethon, along with Troye’s 2013 single, “The Fault in Our Stars,” have gone toward helping children with serious diseases. Sivan has written some other original tunes as well as covered numerous well-known songs such as Adele’s “Someone Like You” and Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away.”
Troye’s singing career forged him forward into acting when he starred as Oliver Twist in the musical “Oliver!” The facilitating word of the internet, thematically fitting for Troye’s career, helped bring the performer’s talents to Hollywood’s attention, and he landed the role of the child Wolverine in “X-Men Origins.” He has worked with Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen and John Cleese, whom Troye stars alongside in the magnum opus of his short filmography: “Spud.”
The events of “Spud” transpire in South Africa in 1990, when the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid were reaching their culminations. However, the more prominent storyline is the personal journey of 13-year-old John Milton, who tries to navigate the ever-difficult tension of teenage social life, which is made more inescapably oppressive by an all-boys boarding school and the throes of the template of young masculinity.
The film is especially insightful, as while the bullying “Spud” Milton endures certainly portrays the teenage masculine ideal negatively, it is still by conforming in some way to this system of manhood that Spud is able to survive socially. Additionally, though few true observers of art like to dwell on performers’ appearances, it cannot be denied that Troye Sivan’s angelic visage creates all the more tension for viewers’ physiognomical (equating in some way facial appearance with character attributes) inklings as they witness his move from innocence to experience.
Spud’s bonds with his teacher “The Guv” (played by John Cleese) and his good friend Henry Barker (known as “Gecko”) contribute to a storyline that manages to be simultaneously humorous, heartwarming, heavy and captivating. The film is based on novelist John van de Ruit’s work, and thanks to the author’s writing of sequels, “Spud 2: The Madness Continues” has debuted this year and was just released on DVD & Blu-ray Disc Nov. 1. Sivan and crew have been filming a third Spud film this year.
Apart from Troye Sivan’s work as a film actor and recording artist, the performer has grown into what he is likely best known as: a YouTube sensation. Sivan, greatly in tune with his fan base, answers questions from those who address him with #AskTroye on his various outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook, all of which make for entertaining follows and likes. Sivan also tells of his relatable issues with time management and incorporates various personal anecdotes to make for a downright hilarious plethora of short videos.
At first a fan of Sivan’s career may experience a strange sense of uncertainty transitioning from the sympathetic, coy character Spud to the performer’s unabashed self, but experiencing more Troye beyond the silver screen is surely worth it. For those with moral qualms about the vlogger’s video titles, it’s helpful to know that they are often misleading or have to do very little with the actual content.
Despite his busy schedules filming and promoting the Spud movies, Sivan, pedestrian.tv’s blogger of the year, still manages to add to his video repertoire almost on a weekly basis. If the following is any testament to his following, to celebrate reaching a million subscribers, Troye created a separate secondary YouTube channel called “More Troye.” The channel, just two weeks old, already has over 100,000 subscribers.
So whether it’s through singing, acting or creating witty monologues, dialogues and other wonderful shenanigans, one can’t help but appreciate how Troye Sivan uses his gifts to help others and bring laughter. Our technological age is merging the lines between what we like to separate as official and unofficial art and entertainment.
For those of us who maybe used to promote such a binary while looking down upon all the other young people and/or peers expending their time on silly YouTube videos and other less formal works, perhaps it’s time to not only join the entertainment revolution but contribute to it in new and exciting ways. So, with that in mind, let’s keep our artistic brain switches turned on and enjoy ourselves too. And, until next time, in Troye-ish fashion, *wink*, *oven ding*, *BUHYYYY!*.
Jesse Silk is a senior English major and an arts & entertainment writer for Cedars. He is an avid fan of film, many different kinds of music and witty comedy, and he is an aspiring writer and musician.
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