Being in the public eye of Hollywood fame at such a young age, Cole Sprouse will be forever known as Cody from the Disney Channel hit show “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” However, with the recent, increasingly popular app Instagram, people can shape the way they want society to view them through pictures and captions that they believe embody them as a person. Cole Sprouse, now 23, is an NYU graduate photographer using his social media platform to shape the public’s view of him from a child the peaked on Disney Channel to a mature, professional photographer.
Cole Sprouse’s Instagram is a great example of what is called a celebrity media mask. He has used his social media platform to create a persona of what he wants society to believe about him at face value but is unable to break the Disney Channel curse. His efforts to try and be relatable and “corky” to gain the false connection and likes from the common person have failed in the way he portrays women and himself ultimately revealing his true roots of upper-class ranking, fame, and money.
Cole Sprouse has posted many self-portraits of himself. Many of them are in black and white and feature him holding a cigarette shirtless. One in particular that stands out is a photograph he posted in June of 2016 with the caption, “real men eat their cigarette butts”. Sprouse seems to want to convey an air of defiance and masculinity through the use of a powerful caption and the way he presents himself in the photo.
In today’s world, cigarettes are seen as risky and have decreased in popularity immensely due to recent studies about the awful health benefits of smoking nicotine. Sprouse is trying to use the cigarette as a way to portray himself as rebellious as he mentions what it takes to be a “real man” in his caption. The black and white filter illuminates his muscles and jaw lines making him look masculine and handsome. The white background also gives a feeling of isolation. In addition, his hair is unkemptly giving the photo a “bad boy” kind of feeling. This also goes along with the natural theme of this portrait in that there look to be no signs of photoshop or facetune making Sprouse look raw. This drastically contradicts his persona of being a cute, innocent, little child on Disney Channel running around a hotel lobby.
Another popular theme of photography Sprouse features on his page is ones with women. These women are mostly photographed in fields and desserts with little housing or buildings in the background. This creates an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and isolation. In addition, Sprouses’ false persona of being artsy and different is shattered because he is following the modern beauty standards trend by putting emphasis on and only capturing women who are young, caucasian, makeup-less, and thin models in nature posing in vulnerable positions. Sprouse organizes him and the model’s appearances as very minimalistic, casual, and modest ignoring the fact that his acting career has made him a millionaire which could be used to fund the outfits, locations, and overall appearance of the photoshoot. The outfits Sprouse chooses for his models to wear in his photographs give the feeling of being not as inexpensive as he wants them to be perceived. The trend away from using models that resemble the classic Marilyn Monroe’s imperfect but perfect body and more realistic portrayals of women have been pushed in recent movements empowering women. Sprouse’s portrayal of women makes him look like an admirer of “high fashion”. This natural vibe he is going for is contradicted by how the models seem too perfect. The model’s expressions look secretive, dramatic, and gloomy.
Overall, Spouse is trying to make people believe that he is a starving artist as he portrays people in an artistic, different way. However, he fails to remind people of his fame and fortune which ultimately makes him a not so starving artist. Sprouse will never have to go through the financial troubles, lack of praise, and failure that most photographers in the modern world face. Sprouse portrays himself in photographs as powerful, masculine, and rebellious whereas he poses his female models in vulnerable positions with questionable facial expressions. His female models also fall into the typical model beauty standard of being very thin, white, and young. Sprouse is ultimately using Instagram, like most celebrities, as a platform to break the mold of being a typical, childhood actor to being a sophisticated, corky artist.