For too many of us, the pursuit of an ideal just beyond our reach is what gets us out of bed in the morning. Whether the goal is to be wildly successful, possess enviable beauty or impossible coolness, it’s a constantly evolving level of “perfection” that is like an invisible carrot on a rope.

Most start gunning for it in their teens, when trying to build an identity based on what everyone else admires. Self-proclaimed “losers” try to conceal the traits that were naturally bestowed upon them in order to emulate the person they put on a pedestal, leading them to climb through the cool dude’s window, hide in his closet, and steal whatever drugs he’s taking that’s making him so untouchably rad.

Today’s Staff Pick Premiere, “The Hunger” is the story of Jørgen, a teen whose idea of human perfection is a nearly mute drug-dealer named Peggy who wears a crude “Lucifer” tattoo on his chest and sticks steroid needles in his butt to feed his bulging muscles. Jørgen’s thirst for acceptance is at times hilariously misguided and endearing, while at others embarrassingly familiar. Director Kenneth Karlstad pumped up this coming-of-age story with elements of magical realism and visual steroids that provide a bold juxtaposition to the dreary boredom of his protagonist’s “normal” life with a sweet single dad who folds his laundry for him. Using deafening techno beats, blinding bright lights bursting out of Peggy’s windows and rivers of sweat dripping from his posse’s cartoonishly toned bodies, “The Hunger” is as much a story about the desire to achieve and maintain society’s absurd masculine ideal as it is about a vulnerable kid simply trying to belong somewhere.

For Kenneth, Jørgen’s story relates to his own in more ways than one:

“The Hunger” is a glamorization of some very bad but very fun things that happened during my teenage years. I had a lot of questions about why many of my friends and I started to seek out trouble and danger in my hometown.The town where I grew up is a typical industrial and workers town where sports are the main cultural focus and general identity. It’s a masculine and competitive environment.he worst thing you can be as a boy is gay or sensitive.If you are, then you’ve lost. I had homoerotic dream when I was seventeen and it sent me into two months of depression and identity hell. Speaking to someone about it didn’t even cross my mind. It was a male taboo to talk about that stuff and still is to some degree.”

It’s likely that you’ve seen these themes explored in art before, but the loud style and crazed energy of “The Hunger” is a unique approach we’re very excited to see more of from Kenneth & co. The team is developing a drama series based on this piece, and we hope it has the same fire. Check it out and tell us what you think!

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