Aesthetically Pleasing or Totally Tone Deaf? The Florida Project film sites are now a hotspot for Instagram pics


The Florida Project, a 2017 indie film, has recently gained traction for telling the stories of families living in extreme poverty just outside of Orlando’s theme parks. While the movie focuses on a fictional mother-daughter duo, the plot is based on the real-life struggles many Central Floridians face.

Even before the added stress of the coronavirus, affordable housing in the area was few and far between. Many continue to take to the motels lining Kissimmee’s highways for a cheap place to live.

Local tourists now visit the actual motels where The Florida Project was filmed. But they’re not just relics from a movie set. Many Central Floridians call them home. 

The Magic Castle, the motel where the main characters of The Florida Project lived, is known for its aesthetic lavender-colored walls. Search for it on Instagram locations and a slew of purple will take over your screen. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with visiting these motels. The problem arises when the local tourists make the trek to Kissimmee for an Instagram photo shoot. 

Using such motels as a background for your latest Instagram post is, at best, completely tone-deaf, and at worst, classist and exploitative.

“People don’t realize that others’ financial struggles are not for their ‘aesthetic,’” said senior Camila Ruiz-Cortez. “They’re fighting daily to make ends meet.”

While local tourists search for the perfect angle and lighting outside, people inside are wondering where their next meal will come from or how they’ll afford this week’s rent. Instagrammers are imposing on the most intimate, personal parts of others’ lives all for a quick pic.

We get it: the motels are cute and colorful, and your Instagram is in need of a face-lift. But there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other locations around Central Florida that will make a beautiful backdrop for your photos without adding that extra filter of ignorance.