Influencer culture doesn’t have the best rap. To be fair, it has in some ways earned its bad reputation. Cringey TikTok teens, eating disorder promoting Instagram models and Jake Paul-style debauchery are all common symptoms of influencer culture and some of the many reasons why even the most dignified digital creators are immediately dismissed.
But not all content creators are deserving of the reputation created by the worst people on the internet, and since social media is the new route in which people are encouraged to share their work, perhaps a second look beyond just F*ck Jerry’s stolen memes is warranted.
Here are five entertaining Instagram accounts to follow for all your social networking needs.
1. Kristen Cochrane – @ripannanicolesmith
A brilliant independent writer, film studies graduate and sharp cultural critic, Kristen Cochrane is the creative behind @ripannanicolesmith, or “K. Cochrane’s meme dispensary,” as stated in her biography. This is an account for people who are paradoxically fascinated and understimulated by popular culture. It’s for intellectuals who consume things that are considered “low art,” like reality television or chick flicks, and maybe feel a little guilty about liking things that are not considered marks of good taste.
The @ripannanicolesmith brand is a unique and refreshing stray from other creators in that it cannot be replicated. Cochrane posts screencaps from recognizable films and television shows, then replaces the actual dialogue with her own bit of feminist theory or with scholarly references.
Her more complex pieces see Kim Kardashian quoting Camille Paglia and the infamous “Legally Blond” subject Elle Woods referencing Judith Butler. The audience can unpack and learn about critical humanities in a more relatable and entertaining way. If you can’t get enough of Cochrane’s hot takes on her Instagram, she also has a private newsletter that you can access on Patreon for a $5 per month subscription.
2. Leandra Medine Cohen – @manrepeller
To call the creator of @manrepeller, Leandra Medine Cohen, an influencer seems undermining, especially considering the fact that @manrepeller was a respected fashion website, applauded by the likes of Refinery 29, The Cut and TIME Magazine, before it was ever an Instagram account. Still, Cohen deserves props for bringing in a massive audience — 2.3 million followers and growing — to her fashion-inspired photoblog.
The account features all sorts of fashion-forward trends, movements and events across different time periods. Cohen takes a more personal route with @manrepeller, sharing favorite couture looks, lookbooks from famous style icons and noteworthy award show outfits that transcend just fashion to become actualized pieces of art. For fashion lovers or people who appreciate aesthetic, @manrepeller is a must-add to your “following” tab.
3. Benito Skinner – @bennydrama7
I’ll just say it — Benito Skinner is the funniest person on Instagram. So funny, in fact, that it’s a shame he’s even on this list when he truly deserves his own television show. Skinner’s videos are not the low-energy, minimal effort front-facing camera videos littered throughout Twitter and formerly Vine. They are well-written and produced with carefully curated costumes and edits, which is a new kind of Instagram video format that is not usually done by creators.
Skinner, a young and up-and-coming comedian, is a fresh face in comedy compared to so much of the oversaturation of political talk shows and hour-long Netflix specials. What really built Skinner’s 808,000 loyal followers is his unique take on relatable things.
In his POV-style videos, he’ll show you what it’s like dating a Capricorn or exploring New York with pop singer Shawn Mendes. In his parodies, he’ll poke fun at the melodramatic Lana Del Rey or overzealous Kris Jenner. Whatever the subject, Skinner consistently offers ambitious, over-the-top, hilarious performances.
4. Rachel Sennott – @treaclychild
Rachel Sennott, the certified funny hot girl behind @treaclychild, is more than just a comedian. She’s a sad girl, an indie film starlet, an Instagram model and, most importantly, a girl boss. Sennott’s Instagram is like a diary; she’ll keep a detailed account of her puffy post-cry face, edgy outfits and drunken escapades. For that, she may be one of the bravest women on Instagram.
5. Sarah Bahbah – @sarahbahbah
Photographer and creative director Sarah Bahbah knows how perfectly aesthetic her photos are; in her own biography, the artist writes, “You’ve probably seen my art on someone else’s account,” referring to the amount of fans who screenshot and share her art.
Bahbah’s mark as a photographer is distinct. Her auteurism is defined by beautifully selected color palettes, extravagant scenery, deeply emotional close-up shots and her most noteworthy stamp, a simple caption in white text placed over the photo. These many qualities combined create an effect similar to watching an indie film and pausing it to reveal a beautiful photograph.
Elena Waldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WaldmanElena.