"I am the snowman, and the account is the showman": A Conversation with Chloe of @EveryElvis
"It is painstaking. It is annoying. Don't recommend it!"
I still remember where I was when I discovered the Twitter account @EveryElvis (sitting on the beach during a family vacation, pretending I was not checking Twitter). The account is exactly what it sounds like: a feed that shares one frame of Elvis (2022)—one frame from each second, even!—a few times a day.
I had just published my own essay at this very newsletter discussing my surprising obsession with Elvis (2022) (at the time, I had seen it six times; I’m now up to nine and about 20 minutes into number ten) an essay I had timed to the film’s digital release that week. Still in an Elvis mood—as I had been since June, and as I have remained—images from the opening montage caught my eye as they floated down my Twitter feed. This makes total sense, I thought. The scene moves so fast, every image is a new adventure. It’ll get old fast, though, I figured. The movie does settle down, after all—Are we going to spend days and days on each scene?
Yes, as it turned out, that is exactly what @EveryElvis became—a sometimes tortoise-slow stroll through Baz Luhrmann’s latest epic. But we all know what happened with the tortoise, and @EveryElvis stays winning; the account currently has nearly 2,000 followers, and posted seconds are capable of garnering as much as 4,500 likes and 460 retweets.
I followed @EveryElvis in August, but unfollowed at some point. I’ll clean up my feed, I thought. But the account kept making its way onto my feed anyway, and I finally couldn’t resist; I followed again.
This is not the first “every second” account, but I have never seen one get engagement quite like this. And so, over time, I have become desperately curious about who is doing this, and how, and why.
The thing about @EveryElvis is that it’s no secret who runs this account—her handle is right there in the bio. And I would look at that handle and think “I sure would like to ask her a few questions.” But I resisted—why would this person actually want to talk to me?
Well, I was wrong. As it happens, Chloe—the fiendish mastermind behind @EveryElvis—was quite excited to talk about her passion project. And so that’s exactly what we did: over a 30-minute Zoom call, we discussed her surprisingly artistic process, the account’s two categories of superfans, and the fine line between sincerity and irony in appreciating Baz Luhrmann’s ecstatic spectacular.
So tell me about your first encounter with the movie Elvis. Is this something you were looking forward to? Did it surprise you?
I mean, I wanted to see it, but I wasn’t like, This is my most anticipated film of the year. I just had an interest in it. I had never seen any Baz Luhrmann films, but I knew about his trademark style. So I was like, OK, this is gonna be a little crazy. I hope no old person dies next to me, since people were like, Oh my God, this is gonna give people a stroke.
Actually, funny story—the first time I went to see it in theaters (I’ve never told anyone this) I kinda fell asleep. Which is so funny because I was loving the film, but I had a long day and I was exhausted and I fell asleep during what is now probably my favorite scene, which is the “Trouble” scene.
So I was like, Oh my God, I can’t believe I fell asleep. So I went to see it again, obviously. I went with my cousin and we just laughed so hard throughout all the really insane shit that it puts you through. And I was like, Oh my God, that is one of the most fun theatrical experiences I’ve had in a while. I need to go see it again. And in those ten days I saw it three times. So that was exciting.
Were you an Elvis fan at all?
I liked a couple of songs. I liked “The Wonder of You.”
My first experience with Elvis, the first time I heard him actually - when I was a kid, there was this movie with the Rock called The Game Plan. And they ended with him singing “Burning Love." And they played it all the time on the Disney Channel and I was like, OK, I love this song. Then as an adult I listened to a couple songs, but I was never really a fan. Although I guess that has changed.
Has that changed?
Well, considering Spotify Wrapped came out a couple weeks ago, and “If I Can Dream” was my most-listened song this year, and he was my number-two artist, you could say it has, yeah.
Number two to who?
So time to talk about the [Every Elvis Second] account! That’s what everyone wants to know about. Where did the idea come from? At what point did it come to you?
Around the time I had first seen Elvis in theaters, an account showed up on my timeline called “Every Goodfellas Second” and I was like, Oh! This is really cool! I love Goodfellas, everyone loves Goodfellas, I’m just gonna follow it, it would be cool to have a couple of frames show up every once in a while. But I just forgot about it. And when Elvis came out in digital, after just becoming obsessed with the film, watching it three times in ten days—all my friends tell me I’m crazy, I don’t care—I thought, OK, Elvis is the perfect subject to do this with.
Because in a way, I’m kind of taking away what makes the film so special. The film is so kinetic, it’s just constant movement and motion. And in a way, I’m doing an abstraction of Elvis by removing that. But at the same time, I get to highlight every single moment in particular, showcase how truly bizarre it is, from its sets to its shots to the really cool amount of cuts it has. So it creates this weird juxtaposition, or dichotomy, taking away what makes the film so special, but also putting that in the spotlight.
So. The question. The one question that people want to know. How do you do it?
I’d like to say I have a bot, but the reason why I don’t is simply because I’m not smart enough. I don’t know how to do that shit. Absolutely not.
But also, even if I was, I’m a perfectionist. So I have the film. I pause it. I go frame by frame taking a screenshot, or several screenshots, per second, and then I pick the best one. And I feel like a bot would just not be able to capture what the second best represents.
An example: the really big viral post was Kodi Smit-McPhee [as Hank Snow’s “hapless son” Jimmie Rodgers] saying, "He’s white.” And I wanted him to stop in the exact wh-, because he winds up that H. A bot would not be able to pick that exact frame. And I’m like, OK, I need to pick what best represents each moment.
It is painstaking. It is annoying. I hate it. But I just do it, and then I schedule the tweets. Sometimes I have them for a week. If I’m busy I’m just doing everything the day before. But yeah. That’s how I do it. It’s not fun! Don’t recommend it!
So the [aforementioned] He’s white scene - did you lose followers after you hit that moment? You must have known it was all winding up to that.
I really don’t check followers. Engagement - yeah, totally, engagement went down. I was ramping up, because it was slowly getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and that was just the climax.
Because the thing is, yeah, the movie does slow down. But I did get engagement a few weeks after that, for the first performance scene—him at the [Louisiana] Hayride. Everyone loves that scene. So yeah, I did lose a bit of engagement, it has never reached that height, and I doubt it ever will.
It will. You know it will! [imitating one very specific moment in Elvis (2022)] Lord have mercy - rowgh. It obviously will.
Yeah, that’ll definitely be a hit even if I have to wait, like, eight months to post that.
How fast did it pick up steam? I feel like I saw it right away. It was on my feed by the time of the opening montage.
I mean, the first second that hit big was second eight.
People were like, Oh, you can tell right away this movie’s special from the logo. And it did dip in engagement for the next two minutes. It wasn’t an immediate hit. It was getting engagement for similar posts but not following through. Maybe I’d get 150 likes on one and then have a post the next day with zero likes, or one like.
I’d love to answer this in, like…a way. But I just don’t know. I started this in August, I don’t remember how it really grew. I just remember the moment that it exploded, which was the lead-up to the He’s white scene. Because of course.
I remember - I will not say the name of this prominent tweeter, but he was so very obviously waiting for that and kept jumping the gun. And that was very funny for me to watch as somebody who knows the movie.
I got a request—Did it skip the scene? People don’t realize how truly long that lead-up is. Wait, no, hang on! He’s gonna say it!
Because even the movie literally slows down “That’s All Right.” But the second Tom Hanks was on that spot, all they wanted was to do that.
Literally, the introductory shot, someone said it. They give a title card saying where [Col. Tom Parker] is. The first shot of them being even in the place! Like, Oh my god, he’s gonna say it! You have to wait like three minutes!
And several days in real time! It says Texarkana - it’s embarrassing that I could even possibly answer that. Um -
Yeah. It is. I told my friend, the great Spencer Williams, that I was watching it for, I think, the fourth time. And she just goes “Mental illness!”
[firmly again] No. Yeah.
We’re on number nine, so if the shoe fits, Spencer.
Number five was yesterday for me - no, number six was yesterday for me!
So you alluded [before the interview] to the fact that there are certain kinds of engagement that you like, and some that you find annoying.
I would categorize the followers that actively engage with the account, not just the ones I see sometimes, into two groups. The first is film people, people on film Twitter that just love the movie, and I appreciate that. I have my favorites. There’s one account, @jacdeswilliams—they don’t do anything but just retweet every single frame with Colonel Tom Parker in it, which is just so god damn hilarious. I love it. They’re a timeline terrorist. And I’m personally a huge fan of [Parker’s alias] the snowman. I’m a little snowhead. He’s just so god damn funny, I love him so much.
And then there’s the second group that I have a love/hate relationship with. There’s this weird fandom thing that’s about Elvis, and Elvis the movie, and Austin Butler. And I truly do not like any of the notifications I get from them. They annoy me. Because it’s like: Oh, Elvis is so sexy! Ooh, I want to have sex with Elvis! Oh, this shirt is so pretty! Ooh, he should’ve gotten more screen time! It’s literally an extra that shows up in three scenes, and it’s like, Oh my God, he’s so gay! And I’m like, I feel like I’m in Tumblr.
I can guess which one you’re talking about—is it the guy sitting there during the TV broadcast with the dreamy look on his face?
No, not that one. One of the band members - I’ve learned his name is Scotty from my followers. That little twink.
Oh, OK! I’m just reframing the real person in my head—Was he a twink? OK…
I don’t know, in the film he is. So yeah, it’s like, OK, he’s sexy, OK, you want to have sex with him. OK. And I get it, because I’m hoping these are mostly sixteen-year-old girls. I’m hoping there’s not a woman in her thirties posting this.
Or in her sixties, even.
But I can’t give them too much shit, because at the end of the day, they’re the ones that engage the most, they’re the ones that retweet the most, gave me the most followers. And also, when there’s a particularly dry scene where it’s just, like, a tracking shot, I do usually stop on, like, Austin Butler being pretty. Or when [Luhrmann] does those zoom-ins on [Elvis’s] crotch, I usually stop there just to get more engagement. I do feed on that.
But every day of my life I wake up and I have to see a fifteen-year-old girl say she wants to fuck Austin Butler, and I hate it. And they annoy me. But they keep the account alive! Trust me, I would not be putting this much work in if I didn’t have constant engagement. Because it’s hell.
But you are an artist! I never imagined that you were very specifically choosing frames, I was just like, Oh, so it’s the first frame…
No. In a way I am the snowman, and the account is the showman.
Let’s see…[consulting prepared questions] you’ve answered whether or not it’s hell…and we covered He’s white…
So maybe this is just my perception, and you tell me if I’m off-base. But it seems to me that engagement with your account is similar to the engagement with this movie, which is that it is semi-affectionate and semi-ironic. Does that feel fair to you?
Yeah, most definitely. I love the movie, but even I take ironic enjoyment from it sometimes. Because there are truly some bold choices that are like, Why is he doing this? But it’s still, at the same time, so good.
This is going to sound awful, but - the MLK scene? Like, come on, you can’t just show me this man on [water skis] and then just, Boom, Martin Luther King is dead!
The first time I saw it, I laughed, because it was so jarring. Obviously I’m not laughing at MLK dying! But, What are you doing? Why are you doing it this way? I love it
So part of this is me trying to interrogate my own relationship to the movie, because it is something that I feel this great passion towards, as you can tell.
And people say to me that I have a relationship with this movie that is very unusual among people having relationships with movies. And it is something that is a bit of a mystery to me. So that blend of the ironic and the sincere just kind of fascinates me, and I don’t know what it is about this movie, and now I’m talking when I’m supposed to be interviewing you.
Do you have any insight into the things I just said?
I really can’t answer that, because I’m in the same position as you: I really don’t understand what it is about this film. Because I think that sincere and ironic enjoyment—if you look at the surface level, it’s just like any other biopic. It takes the same familiar beats. But at the same time, just from a visual standpoint—and kind of a performance standpoint, when you look at Tom Hanks—it really is off-kilter, and I don’t know what it creates, I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but what it creates is just beautiful. You get to rest in the familiarity of all the tropes that you know, but also just get your head blown off by everything else.
Well that actually makes a lot of sense to me, that’s very clarifying. Because there’s something almost embarrassing about having a passion for a biopic. Because who cares like this about Ray or Walk the Line? And so there is a little bit of that guarding yourself. Like, Yeah, it’s stupid that I like this movie this much, but come on! The zoom-in on his wiggling crotch? You’re gonna look at me and tell me this is not a fun movie?
Exactly! It’s spectacle, it really is. You indulge in it.
I have to vote in my critics group awards on Sunday. I am a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and I am very excited to vote in the awards. What categories do you feel I can, in good faith, push the movie Elvis for?
Obviously all of them! But if I were a voter, what I would submit is Best Supporting Actor.
I love him so much! Of all the films I’ve seen this year, the only one that is even remotely close to that level of fascination is Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once. I like him, but I think Tom Hanks is better.
What I love about his performance is that it totally matches the pace and tone of the film, the over-the-top camp and hyperactivity, from the accent, to his enraged “Santy Claus” obsession, to his little dance in the casino in the beginning. But at the same time, he's clearly from another world. He fits in the movie, but he might as well be plucked from Dragon Ball Z or JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, because he has this menacing anime villain energy that is so cartoonish and engaging.
The editing would be something else. Other than that, even if I’m a huge fan of the movie, I just prefer some other things in other categories. I want to say Austin Butler for Best Actor, but I prefer the leads in Decision to Leave—I think that’s my favorite lead of the year. If I were a voter, I would focus on those two.
[Note: I pre-submitted this final question to Chloe so she would have time to brainstorm, and boy am I glad I did.]
Pick another director and pitch me their Elvis biopic. Anyone at all.
I thought first of Gaspar Noé, because he could really zero in on the dark depths of fame and drug abuse.
Then—I’m reading a book about him, so he just came to my mind, and he would be so repulsed by this idea—Jean-Luc Godard’s Elvis. He would find it so gross.
I hurt myself hitting my face when I heard what you just told me.
But that is not my answer.
Oh no! I was hoping it was!
I know. At the end of the day, I went to the safest option, which was my favorite director: John Waters.
This would be a film that would have to be made decades ago, because I want to see Divine as Colonel Tom Parker. His accent would be just so over-the-top, it’d be so bad, and John Waters would probably just egg him on to be bigger and bigger. And we’ve seen John Waters with a big budget. He’s still trashy. And he would laser-focus on the kitsch and the camp era that was movie-star Elvis. He’d go insane with sexually depraved, drug-abusing Elvis during the Vegas years. It would just be bigger and bigger.
And as for who’s playing Elvis, I really like this: I’m gonna pick an actor that has worked with John Waters before. So I settled on Johnny Knoxville as Elvis. Which is just so god damn fun and wacky.
I also picked Waters because he’s done the greaser bad-boy angle, he’s done it with Cry-Baby, which is one of my favorite movies. So I really wouldn’t care to see that side of young Elvis. But I think he’d revel in the lowest of the low points. I feel like he’d end the movie with Elvis dying on the toilet in the most crude and disrespectful way possible. He’d take the visual hyperactivity of [Luhrmann’s] film and just translate it to the plot. The production design would be rich and highly decorated, but it would still be trashy and cheap. It would be really fun.
God, that’s a good answer! Fuck!
Although I still want to think about Godard doing it.
You want to spitball for a second? What’s Godard doing?
Puking. He’s not doing it. He’d hate it so much.
But why’d he come to mind? What do you want to see Godard do with it? I know he’d hate it, he’s certainly not doing it. So?
I don’t know! Jean-Pierre Léaud as Elvis, just because I love him. Anna Karina as Priscilla. Who the hell knows? It’d be so deconstructed, and he’d make it about communism—I love it. I would probably love it more than Baz Luhrmann, because I love Godard, but I really can’t comprehend that concept. It is so against everything he would do, I can’t even elaborate.
[Note: the following day, Chloe reached out to say that something had come to her, and she wished she’d included it in our conversation. I invited her to e-mail me that material, which turned out to be the ideal way to end this particular conversation.]
There is a film that perfectly encapsulates my relationship with Elvis (2022) and what it's like to run the [@EveryElvis] account: a 1979 Spanish horror movie called Arrebato (Rapture).
The film has many threads, but its central conflict is about a heroin-addicted filmmaker who strives to capture the pure essence of film. He usually shoots settings familiar to him, or even himself. Thus, his image becomes forever permeated in the film rolls.
The art of making films becomes his main addiction. He goes frame by frame analyzing his film rolls as his life becomes more and more consumed by the experience. It shows filmmaking as a vampire, completely sucking the life out of him to the point that he literally gets eaten up by the camera—he completely vanishes from existence.
And while it’s on a lesser scale, there is nothing more soul sucking than slowly going through every frame of a movie, even one you love and feel passionate about.
You can find Chloe on Twitter via either @EveryElvis or her personal account. Elvis (2022) is available in all home media formats, and streaming on HBO Max (or whatever that service is currently called). I recommend it.