As the film progresses along, viewers see people who have taken the challenge, suffering the aftermath of going to the fair. Unfortunately for Casey, she is suffering from hallucinations that clash with reality. JLB is trying to save her from a doom worse than death, but time is slowly running out of time.
Young Cobb is fantastic with her wide-set eyes and hint of an indefinable accent that underscores, subtly, her feeling of strangeness. Seeing her watch a video, slack-jawed and vacant, until her never-seen father bangs on her bedroom door because it's three in the morning, and then seeing her bundle up, fire up an LED blue-light lantern, and trudge across a snowscape to be soothed by a cyber ghost on another YouTube channel, is as clear an illustration of the difference between the current generation, nursed at the digital-on-demand teat, and the previous one, what with its might-as-well-be Stone Age discomfort with instant gratification. If We're All Going to the World's Fair has a message, it's not the cautionary predator/pedophilia subplot introduced by a shift in perspective to creeper loner JLB (Michael J. Rogers)--it's that there is an entire generation of children who only know how to build social networks over electronic networks. Our difficulty understanding the good that can result from that, as well as the obvious bad, is the tipping point for whether we survive as a species. The film is most powerful when it shows how the "real" world is less real than the Internet world: how every time Casey ventures outside, it's empty and cold vs. the abundance of friends, adventures, confidants, lovers, teachers, whores, bawds, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, and souls she encounters every time she logs on. Vanity Fair is now the World's Fair, and we're not all going there: We live there. Any war for our souls we've lost already--and didn't even know we were fighting until we were too beaten to strike back. We're All Going to the World's Fair isn't a rallying cry for the resistance but instead a eulogy for everything that used to be true. It's Invasion of the Body Snatchers told by a pod.
Casey's videos draw the attention of JLB (Michael J Rogers), a mysterious user who tells her she is "in trouble" and offers to guide her through the perils of the world's fair. But what does he really want? And is she actually in danger?
Young and vulnerable, Casey takes world's fair more seriously than does JLB, but how seriously? That's the question on which the film pivots: Is Casey faking the symptoms of demonic possession for clout? ("Thirty-two views," she mutters, frustrated by the poor performance of her early videos.) Or does she really believe that the challenge is transforming her?
It's a metaphor they're planning to return to. "I'm working on what I call my 'screen trilogy.,'" they say. "World's Fair is number one, the movie we're shooting this summer for A24, I Saw the TV Glow, is two. And that's really about seeing yourself through a screen, then slowly realizing the limits of that. It's sort of my egg crack movie, to put it in trans terms. And then I'm also working on this TV project called Public Access Afterworld that's also set up with A24. That's sort of all about digging even deeper into screens, as a metaphor for the ways in which we don't experience ourselves when we're going through dysphoria and coming to terms with transness. But [it's] a project that's sort of about maybe breaking through that screen to a certain degree." 781b155fdc