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lonelygirl15: fact or fiction?
August 27, 2006 4:20 PM   Subscribe

One of the most famous characters on youtube is lonelygirl15 (this link being the most comprehensive summary of her story I've seen). Virginia Hefferton of the NY Times is one of the countless people trying to unravel the mystery of whether her video blogs are the ramblings of a cute homeschooled girl and her nerdy crush, or part of a larger marketing campaign.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (90 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
It blows my mind that she's been around for this long, and it's still not clear whether she's "real" or not.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:21 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


That movie sounds awesome.
posted by phrontist at 4:33 PM on August 27, 2006


to quote a comment on one of those links,
"I don't get a shit of this whole story."
posted by Busithoth at 4:42 PM on August 27, 2006


This kind of thing makes me wish I followed YouTube drama more closely. Sounds like a great movie, though.

Score another point for Internet Detectives!
posted by ®@ at 4:43 PM on August 27, 2006


I don't really get it either. I don't think she's "real", but I can't figure out what she's selling (although the movie idea sounds quite plausible).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:44 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


YouTube is kinda making William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition" look amazingly prophetic.
posted by davebush at 4:50 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Definitely not real. From the point of view of a guy who makes alternate reality games and sees a lot of viral marketing ideas go by, the videos and writing are just too pat. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was a promo for a movie, as described in the first link.

Another possibility is that this is a 'YouTube original drama' - in other words, it's not selling anything except for YouTube itself. If I were running YouTube, I'd certainly be thinking about encouraging people to make original drama for the site.

Finally, all this internet publicity stuff is great, but it didn't do jack for Snakes on a Plane. Some people seem to think that buzzworthy marketing is a substitute for having a good product.
posted by adrianhon at 4:54 PM on August 27, 2006


There were actually only 12 people that grabbed the Snakes on a Plane meme, but they were everywhere. :)
posted by Malor at 4:57 PM on August 27, 2006


Yeah, it's fictional--but more just for the hell of it than any particular advertising scheme. It's possible that Brian Flemming might be perpetrating it as a tie-in for his upcoming Danielle, but the links between the two stories (a Daniel in one, a Danielle in the other; Satanism in one, Christian apocrypha in the other) seem more coincidental than anything.

I think Flemming's interest stems mostly from the fact that he recognizes a fellow traveler: the lonelygirl15 saga seems to be an experiment in verité story-telling, much like Flemming's own Nothing So Strange (weird-ass movie, by the way) or the fictional blog She's a Flight Risk.
posted by Iridic at 4:58 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ridiculously fake. They're probably selling some crappy film.
posted by reklaw at 5:00 PM on August 27, 2006


Lonelygirl, schmonely girl. Today the NYT outed funtwo whose rendition of Pachelbel's Canon has been viewed 7,547,713 times, not counting the countless copies of this video on YouTube and other video sites!
posted by caddis at 5:00 PM on August 27, 2006


For the record, I somehow doubt she is real because her supposedly uber strict parents would have been told by someone about their daughter's other life by now, but hey, this sort of stuff is still kind of fun.
posted by caddis at 5:02 PM on August 27, 2006


Another thought - how the hell did this get so big? There are thousands of videos that are more interesting than this on YouTube, and as far as I can tell, most videos get popular for two different reasons.

1) They're interesting/disgusting/funny/sexy/news - this then drives up their views, which makes even more people watch them. Having seen her first blog, I cannot see why this would reach so many people. Maybe I'm just getting too old though.

2) They're featured on the front page - presumably picked out by YouTube's editors, which they would be more than happy to do if they were getting paid.

Obviously I prefer option 2. None of this is particularly hard to pull off; you need a couple of writers, a couple of actors, and a small film crew. Incidentally, I highly doubt all of this is just to sell music; it would be very underwhelming.

On preview: I agree with Iridic that Flemming isn't necessarily involved just because he mentions it on his blog. However, I wouldn't be surprised if he knew the people responsible.
posted by adrianhon at 5:06 PM on August 27, 2006


The first is a little shaky, adrianhon- watch some of the newer ones, and you might get caught in.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:07 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


TPS: Just watched the second one - fair enough. Although it's way too produced, in that 'pretending to be amateur by filmed by professionals' way.

I looked into Virginia Hefferton's blog about this, and she presents the following reason as one of many for why the videos might be genuine:

Her erudition — the particular level of pop crossover “genius” figures that she invokes, including Feynman, Hawking, ee cummings, Jared Diamond — seems perfectly befitting a home-schooled girl, whose parents may be autodidacts. In other words, she’s not reading the Toni Morrison/John Steinbeck/Mark Twain stuff that gets assigned in American public high schools, nor is she reading the “Left Behind” series or Exodus, which people might imagine that religious, home-schooled kids read. Instead, she’s reading exactly the popular upper-middle-brow science books that boomer adults cite when they want to sound smart. = SWEET

Uh, maybe she sounds like that because she's actually written by people who already know all of these things? Such references to pop crossover genius figures are a staple of this epistolatory fiction genre.
posted by adrianhon at 5:11 PM on August 27, 2006


The camera work and editing is very well done, not like a home job at all. For that reason I would say fiction… but goodness knows what for [unless it's simply a launchpad promotion for a celebrity career of the super-cute Bree].
posted by tellurian at 5:16 PM on August 27, 2006


Screw lonelygirl15, the NYT/YouTube article
by Virginia Hefferton I'm interested in is funtwo's cannon!
posted by mrnutty at 5:19 PM on August 27, 2006


Thinking about it, I wonder if Haxan (or the people from the company) have any involvement in this campaign. They're no stranger to online web promotions for satanic-themed films - just see what they did for Blair Witch. Plus, having seen their other work, they're perfectly capable of doing these videos and finding suitable writers.

mrnutty: funtwo's canon is indeed way cooler, and even better, completely genuine :)
posted by adrianhon at 5:25 PM on August 27, 2006


Storyline seems fake, buttha "actors," especially the girl, seem very good at acting naturally, and like they don't know what they're doing, so it's clearly improved and not scripted. (At least her parts; his might be read off a page.) Also, we're clearly getting the "highligts" from the livejournal link, and it sounds like theres a lot of filler in between, which is smart on the part of the creators if they're going for verite.

Also, while I don't know a hell of a lot about Satanism or Crowley, I thought that the tenets were really about seeing yourself as God, and not about worhipping Lucifer so much. (I might be very wrong about this.) But with this in mind, wouldn't it seem weird for a girl raised in a Suburban Satanist family to be so heavily protected? Do they simply not want their secret to get out? And if so, why would they let her have a webcam to begin with?
posted by Navelgazer at 5:26 PM on August 27, 2006


Get your scoop on many of the high-profile personalities at YouTube Stars or YouTube Talk.

I tend to have high skepticism about many of these personalities, entertaining tho they may be, after having fallen for the LittleLoca shtick, only to find out that she is an actress playing a role. Fool me once, won't get fooled again. Oh, except for geriatric1927 - if he turns out to be a 13 year old girl, I will be crushed.

I am a bit amazed that the NYT is spending so many resources outing Internet characters. How bizarre is that?
posted by madamjujujive at 5:27 PM on August 27, 2006


I just want to note how Virgina Heffernan is spelled. Also, those lonelygirl15 videos are interesting precisely for their ambiguity, because as an audience we don't yet know whether they're "real" except for their undoubted existence. We don't know whether "Bree" is real and really makes the videos, whether "Daniel" is real, where she lives, and so on. Once we find out, I wonder whether the videos will retain their quality of "interestingness." I kind of hope they do, because it marks a novel kind of art.
posted by cgc373 at 5:38 PM on August 27, 2006


Shit. I meant "Virginia," of course.
posted by cgc373 at 5:39 PM on August 27, 2006


Heh.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:42 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


She's also caused a bit of drama over at wikipedia.
posted by Tenuki at 5:43 PM on August 27, 2006


Snap. Sorry, Heffernan and canon.
posted by mrnutty at 5:48 PM on August 27, 2006


Okay. On my previous post I hadn't been able to get the "hiking" video loaded. Nope. Fake. Done.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:52 PM on August 27, 2006


This is so lame and I don't know why anyone on metafilter would be interested in adding any more attention to this ridiculous rise of fame of a nobody.

She is cute, and they is why she is so popular. It could be fake and it could not be fake and I don't really care. If she was ugly no one would be paying attention anyway.
posted by nickerbocker at 6:03 PM on August 27, 2006


As davebush noted, once again Gibson was there first.
posted by hwestiii at 6:05 PM on August 27, 2006


Tenuki, that Wikipedia talk page is great!
posted by cgc373 at 6:07 PM on August 27, 2006


Pachelbel's Canon as performed by JerryC and funtwo was discussed a couple of months ago.
posted by the_bone at 6:12 PM on August 27, 2006


Pattern Recognition has a much more elaborate premise than the lonelygirl15 stuff, but when, [SPOILER ALERT] late in the book, the provenance of the footage is revealed, I had the same sense of disappointment I anticipate having if lonelygirl15's stuff turns out to be a ruse or a viral marketing campain, or whatever. While the footage was a mystery, it had more power and was more interesting as an element of the plot than it turned out to have, once we knew who'd made it and why.
posted by cgc373 at 6:20 PM on August 27, 2006


I had also considered Pattern Recognition in reading about this, but I thought Gibson was inspired more by the communities that sprung up around alternate-reality games like The Beast.

But, I'll admit. This is one of the more curious things to come out of Youtube that I've seen, in terms of people's reaction to it and the people that might be behind it.
posted by sixacross at 6:27 PM on August 27, 2006


if it is a marketing campaign, i do not understand what it is that is being marketed (sp)..
posted by virga at 6:27 PM on August 27, 2006


"Tenuki, that Wikipedia talk page is great!"

Seconded. Great read! I guess she doesn't get her own page because the jury's still out on whether or not she's real, or valid... John Titor got his own page, and that was mostly Usenet. Not very objective on the part of the AfD. Wikipedia's suffering growing pains it seems. A sort of adolescence of conflicting views and internal power struggles. It seems to be an inadvertent soap opera in its own right. Fun.

This is the entertainment of the future, my friends. Entertainment that causes us to question whether or not it's entertainment. I am still a diehard fan of The Blair Witch Project for just this reason. Eventually it's just gonna get old, but I dig this kinda stuff.

Maybe this IS the movie. Did anyone think about that? Maybe this is an actual production, or an experiment in a medium that is being produced to see what you can and can't do in the medium and still keep a fourth wall up between the audience and the players. The answer in this case is apparently not much because you're gonna have people investigate it and verify whether or not it's real. Kinda like faking a snuff film. In fact I'm sure eventually people will start questioning the morality of this. Is this storytelling or blatant lies? Indeed, is there a difference? Fictional Storytelling IS effectively lying to your audience. That's what acting is all about. Pretending to be someone else. The fact we're no longer relegating this to being on a stage or ...well we're still before a camera here but it's a camera that might be owned by a fifteen year old girl, or a fifty year old corporation. we have no way of knowing really.

That's what makes it fun! I mean every Halloween, people pay money to go into "haunted houses" but we know they're not really haunted and in most cases they're not even houses. Well, unless you count 'warehouses' which is where many haunted houses seem to be staged nowadays. Here in Dallas anyway.

How much would you pay if you could go into a REAL haunted house? Or a fake one that's so real you honestly can't and won't be able to tell the difference? You may walk away from it honestly believing there's ghosts. This is ultimately what every storyteller wishes they could do; make you believe in their fiction so much you will make it real for yourself, then go and tell other people so they'll do the same thing.

Viral marketing? This has been going on since before Mark Twain... or was it Samuel Clemens?
posted by ZachsMind at 6:50 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Schmonelygirl.

It's ALL about Mr. Pregnant!
posted by Kickstart70 at 7:08 PM on August 27, 2006


Link, please????
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:10 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


as someone points out there - i do believe lonelygirl15 looks a lot like Annie Kehoe
posted by zenzizi at 7:13 PM on August 27, 2006


Well, ZachsMind, I think storytellers generally have little desire to jeapordize their audience's sense of reality. They want to create a space for the "willing suspension of disbelief," as the poet put it, but some new media manifestations cause people to question the ontological status of events. Such questions don't benefit stories; they sabotage them. Stories have to entertain us, not threaten us. I'm writing off the cuff here, so I don't know whether I can make enough sense of what I'm thinking to get it across, but I'm speaking up anyway, in case anybody else knows what I mean and can say it more clearly.
posted by cgc373 at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2006


Eh, close but no cigar, zenzizi.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Jeapordize? Jeez.
posted by cgc373 at 7:17 PM on August 27, 2006


I agree with you, cgc373--a big part of storytelling is that we enter into it knowingly as a vicarious experience. So, no matter how terrified we get in a completely realistic haunted house, it's OK because we know it's not real, which is why a powerful artistic experience can be so cathartic. We are able to have more extreme experiences (of fear, danger, joy, passion) than we might be willing to risk for real, and it feels great.

When you don't know whether or not the experience (like a haunted house) or a story (like lonelygirl15) is real, you are unsure whether to throw yourself in for vicarious thrills, or whether to be genuinely fearful for your life, or if you should be sincerely concerned with the welfare of another actual person, or whatever.

Thus, there is a trust between an artist and the person receiving that art; when something purported to be real is revealed as fake--or vice versa, though no examples of that spring to mind--people feel deceived, and rightly so. Any artist manipulating an audience's sense of reality like that should tread carefully, I think. (However, I have to say that whole new frontiers of what art can be and how it can interact with society have been opened up, and I'm excited as hell to see what's next.)
posted by LooseFilter at 7:31 PM on August 27, 2006


first link dead?
posted by dig_duggler at 7:49 PM on August 27, 2006


Booo, the LJ summary on ONTD was deleted. Luckily, I saved the text:

A normal girl who became a YouTube phenomenon or a giant publicity stunt?

This is Bree. This is Bree's YouTube account. Bree is 16, home schooled, and lives somewhere in America. Her parents are extremely strict, extremely religious, and apparently extremely clueless with what Bree likes to do in her spare time. Bree's hobby? Video blogging.

While Bree video blogs about topics such as her lazy eye, being home schooled, and makes charming "Proving Science Wrong" segments, her favourite topic is her self-admitted only friend Daniel who appears in most of her videos (Daniel's first appearance).

Bree and Daniel are really close and hang out pretty much every day. Questions about their relationship and their feelings towards each other start to increase after Bree posts a video of her and Daniel hiking (Daniel doesn't have much presence in this video, it's not until later that the Daniel character gets a personality).

Because of the questions, Bree asks Daniel whether or not he has a crush on her. Not shocking when she tells us viewers that Daniel told her yes. She then posts a video explaining it.

OK, so it's clear that they like each other. The only problem? Bree's parents. They're super religious and wouldn't approve of their daughter dating. They didn't even like the idea of her going hiking with Daniel.

This is the part of the story when things start getting weird.

One day, as Bree is making a new video, her dad just happens to have a talk with Daniel. We don't know what about and Bree doesn't either which she lets us know in another video. We'll get to that, but first let's fast forward to what Bree's dad talked to Daniel about.

Oh, and by the way, Daniel started video blogging too. Anyway, the talk? Extremely anti-climatic. We were expecting something better!

Bree responds, hurt by Daniel's comments and defends her religion (which she hasn't identified yet).

At this point, you might start to think this thing is fake. I mean, the whole story is so cliche for one. And then them responding back and forth for everyone on youtube to see, without talking about it in person first? This is too good to be true.

REWIND back to when Bree's dad and Daniel first have the talk, and Bree doesn't know what the talk is about. She's curious, and makes an extremely creepy video that's out of the "Bree" character, asking Daniel what was said.

Pay close attention to around 1:52, Bree not wanting Daniel to light the candles, and the picture above the candles (which we're now able to see up close and clearly). Is that.. Aleister Crowley in the picture? The occultist who was named "Wickedest Man in the World", was a self-proclaimed drug and sex fiend, and writer of the sacred text for the religion Thelema? Why would this seemingly sweet, naive, and innocent girl have a shrine to Crowley if she wasn't practicing that religion herself? Do we now know what her religion is? Hmmmm.

Fast forward again to after Bree responds to Daniel's video. Daniel comes over to Bree's house to try and work out the problems they're dealing with at that time, and a fight breaks out (that Bree records and titles "I probably shouldn't post this...").

At this point, the whole thing screams fake. First of all, Daniel doesn't want to have the fight on camera, yet he continues on anyway. Second of all, Bree says in the descriptions of her videos that Daniel does all the video editing. If Daniel doesn't want this filmed in the first place, why would he edit the video for her knowing that she's going to post it for hundreds of thousands to see? And third, the angle this was shot in is way too nice of an angle to be spur of the moment. It seems it had to of been planned out.

They don't talk for a while, Bree makes a peace offering video. Daniel sees it and then responds to it with his own video (he titles it "To Hell With Bree's Dad") saying that he's going to surprise Bree and go to her play after all, which is that night. Bree doesn't know he's going to be there and he isn't going to film it, but he's going to go. I love how his tie is around his neck but not even tied up, like he got the idea to make a video in between getting ready!

Bree's latest video is a response to Daniel's, saying how excited and happy she was to see him there. She didn't forget ANY lines and was doing great until she saw him in the audience, and was so shocked/happy/speechless that her mind went blank and she didn't remember what to say next. And I thought that only happened in the movies!

So many theories on what is really going on with lonelygirl15 and danielbeast. Are they really friends and just making videos from their houses, or is there something bigger at work here? There is no point in asking Bree what's going on because you won't get an answer out of her. She hardly talks about her religion and she doesn't confirm or deny any accusations on this whole thing being a scam.

Some people say that it's religious groups trying to get the attention of impressionable teenage minds to convert them. Others say it's a record label trying to pawn off new indie music, as lonelygirl15 puts all the information of the music she uses in her videos on her profile page and in the video descriptions. Even more people think it's someone or a group of people doing this to put on a resume, or to pitch the idea to TV stations, etc. once this thing hits its peak.

The newest, and seemingly most accurate theory though, is that this is all a huge publicity stunt by director Brian Flemming , who is also interested in the lonelygirl15 phenomenon. Brian blogs about it quite frequently, even though he seems to be on the side that the whole this is fake. But if you know anything about Brian, you'll know he's known for making faux documentaries, such as Nothing So Strange, about the assassination of Bill Gates. It recieved rave reviews and won critical acclaim.

In the blog of his that I've linked, at the end of it, he says "Unless I really did perpetrate this one and I'm just trying to distance myself from it because it's now failing.Just kidding.You know me. I'd never try to fool anybody like that."

But that is obvious sarcasm, as he has done things like this in the past! For example, creating fake websites that co-exist with his movie Nothing So Strange, that reported the death of Bill Gates so believably that there was actually a stock market crash in Korea because of it!

Also, take a look at a movie he has coming out in 2007.

Danielle (2007)
Also Known As:
The Beast (USA) (working title)
imdb

When her father, a biblical scholar, mysteriously disappears, a Christian high-school student named Danielle investigates. She discovers that he had stumbled across a cover-up of Christianity's best-kept secret: That Jesus Christ never existed. Now that she possesses proof of this dangerous fact, Danielle confronts two strong forces: A band of fundamentalist Christians who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth, and her own desire for Jesus Christ to be real. The Beast dives into factual territory well-explored by scholars but largely hidden from the view of the public.

This seems too much of a coincidence. Bree's best friend = Danielle minus the last 2 letters of that name, plus he was going to call the movie "The Beast", and Daniel's youtube.com account is danielbeast. PLUS Crowley's mother used to call him "Beast" as well.

Also, for the doubters, this is apparently a comment that the director Brian left on imdb:

"Danielle... is the story of a devout Christian high-school girl who comes into possession of evidence that Jesus never existed. This new title will help us focus attention on what the movie is actually about, and also appeal to one of the film's main target audiences -- people Danielle's age, who I think are important to reach with the message of the film."

It appears he wants teenagers to see this film, it's his main target audience. What a sneaky marketing ploy to get people to see it by using such innocent and cute videos such as lonelygirl15's.

Why would Brian pick apart his own creations and call them fake had he actually made these videos himself? Maybe for fun, maybe to help people discover the truth. It seems way too coincidental to not be a reason behind this whole lonelygirl15 thing. Is it possible that Brian could have made the whole lonelygirl15 thing up, as a promotion for his new movie Danielle?

Bree states in the comments of some of her videos that she is not Christian, that she does not believe in Jesus Christ, that she believes in evolution, and that her religion isn't mainstream and a lot of people would not understand it.

If you look on the Danielle website, there is nothing there, only forums. The cast has not been announced, and on the old website for The Beast, there are no actors or actresses in the trailer. Could Bree and Daniel be the stars of this film? It says on the site that the cast and crew have been sworn to secrecy. Is that why no one has come out about knowing Bree or Daniel yet, and confirming/denying what everyone thinks is going on?

Whatever is going on, it sure is interesting and has gotten a lot of attention. Bree's been featured in the NY Times not one time, two times, three times, but four times.

She is also the #3 must subscribed to YouTuber of all time, gaining popularity every day.

This is all speculation, nothing has been confirmed. It's just the latest in the rumours revolving around the saga of a lonelygirl15 and her danielbeast.

Sources: YouTube, http://lonelygirl15.com, Wikipedia

Also, for further discussion and TONS more "proof" that Brian is behind this, check out the LG15 website in the source. The forums are buzzing with stuff, specifically this post. On the 2nd page it has a huge amount of proof that makes this whole thing point to Brian using LG to promote his movies.

posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:49 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


like the guy said it's too pat - she's been trained at a drama school or something - you can tell by the timing - the one with the monkey - she looks across at it and then looks back at the camera - its all technical acting stuff and if youtube wasnt down just now i'd go on about it ....it would have worked if theyd done it organically , ah well.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:50 PM on August 27, 2006


And here's Bree's Youtube profile.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:51 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's so obvious that she's acting. I mean, isn't it? SO obvious.
posted by iconomy at 8:07 PM on August 27, 2006


It's obvious that she's performing, iconomy, but most of the YouTube recordings of people dancing to music videos or reading off their journals or whatever are also performances. Whether it's scripted and financed by somebody is really the question here.
posted by cgc373 at 8:10 PM on August 27, 2006


Whether it's scripted and financed by somebody is really the question here.

I could take a skinny little white girl and cover her in maple syrup and people would buy it.

I guess all this hubub really demonstrates is that people are suckers. But it is somewhat encouraging to see people debate the "reality" of these videos. It reminds me of the medieval Christian philosophers. You accept the premise without concern and then argue about the details. Anyways, a few more hoaxes like this, and it won't matter. Advertisers are going to find themselves on trackless ground soon, with nowhere to go, just like so many before them who insisted on respecting a system of logic.
posted by nixerman at 8:25 PM on August 27, 2006


Fyi, all the Livejournal links are busted. And sorry to beat a dead horse, but it's HEFFERNAN. (How hard is it to cut and paste the correct name, TheFinkSuperzero?)

As to the topic at hand: Anyone who titles a Youtube video "School Work in Summer... BLECHH!!!" is over 40 years old. ("Blecchh" being a word used by hacky Jewish comedy writers in MAD comics of the 1970s.)
posted by turducken at 8:36 PM on August 27, 2006


I'd lay even odds that it's either

- "religious groups trying to get the attention of impressionable teenage minds to convert them" — especially the evangelist right scaring their own children with lies about how sinfully the rest of us live.

- some BS for a lousy movie.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:39 PM on August 27, 2006


I'd hit it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:03 PM on August 27, 2006


What if this stuff is really real and on the level? I've known quite a few engaging young women with dramatic ability; if they'd had the technology in 1983 my ex-wife would've had a field day telling the Internet what a loser I was. What besides adolescent self-dramatization needs to go on here?
posted by davy at 9:14 PM on August 27, 2006


"I'd hit it."

You want fries with that?
posted by davy at 9:17 PM on August 27, 2006


Okay, I just finally went and watched a little of one of her videos.

That is bizarre. I can't figure out why this exists or why some people have gone through the trouble of writing it and editing it together. I wonder how old lonelygirl15 really is. 20-something, I'm sure.
posted by blacklite at 9:18 PM on August 27, 2006


What is this, jailbait Sunday? Yeah, I know, blacklite - I'm sure she's not really teenaged - nevertheless, between this and the Miss Teen Australia Beauty Pageant, Metafilter seems to be conspiring to make me feel like a dirty old man. Oh plus these videos suck.
posted by nanojath at 9:31 PM on August 27, 2006


lonleygirl reminds me of the kids in JD Salinger's Glass family and the children in The Royal Tennenbaums. Smart, quirky and likable. I'm guessing the whole project is some homage to those "kid genius" type of characters.
posted by Kronoss at 9:40 PM on August 27, 2006


Adrian Hon posted: "Thinking about it, I wonder if Haxan (or the people from the company) have any involvement in this campaign."

Considering HaxanMike originated the thread on Unfiction about Lonelygirl15, I'm 99.99% sure Haxan has nothing to do with the campaign. In fact, he was suspecting Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman's Cathy's Book, but reconsidered.
posted by Addlepated at 9:58 PM on August 27, 2006


Tenuki, that Wikipedia talk page is great!

The discussion is pretty interesting, but the Wikipedia talk pages as a whole are an abomination. It would take substantial effort to make the layout any worse for reading purposes. I can't believe they can't come up with something better.
posted by Arch_Stanton at 10:04 PM on August 27, 2006


This is the entertainment of the future, my friends. Entertainment that causes us to question whether or not it's entertainment. I am still a diehard fan of The Blair Witch Project for just this reason.

Uh. See. You used the words "entertainment" in there.

Why would one LIKE something where one has to ask:

"Was I just entertained or was I just ripped the fuck off by marketing tripe deliberately designed to imitate "lo-fi" and circumvent any whit of original creativity and professionalism (actors, writers, cinematographers, lighting designers) simply so it can make MORE goddamn money."

I kinda like to know I was entertained for my $20 bucks.

But if you really feel that way.... here, give me $20. And you can sit inside this cardboard box. I'll close the lid and you sit there while I entertain you by whacking the outside of the box with a whiffle ball bat. As the broshure reads "It will be the best, most terrifing ride, ever."

You'll REALLY ask yourself "Am I being entertained?"
posted by tkchrist at 10:04 PM on August 27, 2006


cgc, Loosefilter, consider this within the same ballpark as War of the Worlds, where the effect was as great as it was simply because of the illusion of reality. The suspension of disbelief osn't a tool that artists use, so much as it's the best they can get for the most part. As culture grows more apathetic to art, art must become sneakier to get under our skin. That's sort of what verite is all about.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:14 PM on August 27, 2006


And I imagine the only thing being marketed is the performance itself. C'mon, we're what, three years past the age of Flash Mobs and no one can believe that this sort of thing would exist for it's own sake?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:16 PM on August 27, 2006


Oh!, and tkchrist, you dodn't pay anything for this one.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:16 PM on August 27, 2006


I finally just watched the first few, and the thing that struck me the most (besides the girl being, almost for certain, a 20-something trained actress, as has been said), is the quality of the editing: it's great (not even for just webcam stuff - it's very well edited). NO dead space. And all the "comic" edit timing is spot on, too.

Maybe I'm just drunk, but it definitely feels like these have been cut/watched/trimmed/watched/fine tuned/shown to a peer for comments/comments ignored/trimmed one more time by an editing pro.

In any case, it's gotten my attention: They win. Whoever they are.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 10:26 PM on August 27, 2006


She looks closer to 25 than 15.
posted by justgary at 10:33 PM on August 27, 2006


She's also caused a bit of drama over at wikipedia.
...
Seconded. Great read! I guess she doesn't get her own page because the jury's still out on whether or not she's real, or valid... John Titor got his own page, and that was mostly Usenet. Not very objective on the part of the AfD. Wikipedia's suffering growing pains it seems

No it was deleted because she wasn't "notable" which is ridiculous. As far as I can tell wikipedia is suffering from some sort of bizarre anti-youtube bias. Far less "notable" people and things have been featured in Wikipedia. Really lame.
posted by delmoi at 11:05 PM on August 27, 2006


At least her Ikea chair checks out. Tuscon -> Tempe for Ikea furniture is a very reasonable 1.5 hour drive.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:15 PM on August 27, 2006


adrianhon wrote "Uh, maybe she sounds like that because she's actually written by people who already know all of these things? Such references to pop crossover genius figures are a staple of this epistolatory fiction genre."

Apologies for bringing politics into this, but such obtuse reasoning by a member of the press is the exact reason why so many of us shake our fists at newspapers and completely avoid television news. If this is in fact viral marketing, it's the same style of PR that the administration has been smoothly plying upon the public for the length of this administration.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:21 PM on August 27, 2006


This video... it vibrates?

Seiously though. They're going out into the woods. Hiking. Can you say horror movie?
posted by geekhorde at 11:25 PM on August 27, 2006


What kind of nerds go to the trouble of videoblogging with a camcorder but don't post a video of the play thay're arguing about?
posted by VulcanMike at 11:28 PM on August 27, 2006


addlepated: Right you are, I hadn't seen that thread. But you have to admit, it could've been them :)
posted by adrianhon at 6:47 AM on August 28, 2006


I had no idea what was going on, so I went to wikipedia, which (in the past) has been an excellent source on internet fad, etc. There is nothing on wikipedia, because apparently wikipedia editors think deleting entries is more important than actually hosting information. They are always totally accurate if they don't say anything, right? Just like all the other useless encyclopedias.

I hadn't even read this thread, I just wanted a little well organised information. Wikipedia used to be good for this.
posted by jb at 6:48 AM on August 28, 2006


I had no idea what was going on, so I went to wikipedia, which (in the past) has been an excellent source on internet fad, etc. There is nothing on wikipedia, because apparently wikipedia editors think deleting entries is more important than actually hosting information. They are always totally accurate if they don't say anything, right? Just like all the other useless encyclopedias.

Read the talk page. Incredibly aggravating, basically one asshole repeatedly deleted the page and then locked it, saying the girl wasn't "notable" enough. The guy claims that Articles in the The Times in London doesn't count. The NYT and New York magazine articles don't count because they're "just blogs" (he apparently doesn’t realize that the NYT and New York magazine are different things).

Seriously aggravating as fuck, just one asshole editor who probably doesn't like her (he's a youtube director, actually)

If you want to complain go here. I don't care about her too much (in fact if she is real, I find her highly annoying), but I really think it's an abuse of wikipedia to keep her out.
posted by delmoi at 7:20 AM on August 28, 2006


Jon Fine at Business Week is now also on the case!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:57 AM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh!, and tkchrist, you dodn't pay anything for this one.

And that part I like. Look. I like wierd stuff. Like the low mo performance thing at Home Depot. In fact I love it. This lonlegirl thing... it reeked of inauthenticity from day one so I never was entertained or spent a second contmplating it. So. Meh. I give it a B- just for the effort.

However. When we lump things like Blair Witch into this organic form of reality bending, like it's all the same genre, is dangerously misleading and frankly destroys the point of artistic expression by removing the artist from it.

Blair Witch was purely an excercise in marketing that was cyncally created to deliberately NOT produce anything. They wanted to put as little as they could into the can everyday. Using the least amount of creative thought, performance and craft possible. They wanted crowd dynamic and viral rumor to do all the work. And. Then they pointed and laughed at people for buying it.
posted by tkchrist at 8:50 AM on August 28, 2006


Wow, what a jackass that brian guy is over on wikipedia – I'd leave him a message on his talk page on wp, but he'd likely ignore it, especially as I'm not an active contributor. Maybe we should alert him to the discussion here?

From looking into the archives of his talk page, he's a totally irrational editor, he's a strong lone voice in trying to keep articles on lonelygirl15 and geriatric1927 (two most notable of all youtubers), and he's very strongly for the keeping of the Emmalina article, also for no good reason. What an inconsistent douchebag.
posted by blasdelf at 9:24 AM on August 28, 2006


Paging bclark. He's worked with Flemming before and with Haxan. And Clark's GMD Studios acts as web ringmasters for alternate reality games.
posted by eatitlive at 9:25 AM on August 28, 2006


edit: he's strongly trying to keep articles on lonelygirl15 and geriatric1927 deleted.
posted by blasdelf at 10:11 AM on August 28, 2006


All you folks saying "it's too well produced!!!!", have you watched the show with zefrank? The editing is ten times better. And does anyone think that he's the mouthpiece for some astroturfing campaign? Is it because he's a guy that people think it's believable? Or because he's a little older than she is?
posted by Plutor at 10:23 AM on August 28, 2006


Re: eatitlive: I heard from Brian Clark this morning, after emailing him for a comment for an article I'm writing on Lonelygirl15 for ARGN. He's just as curious as we are as to who's behind it all. It's funny, since in an interview in March, he mentioned that he'd like to branch out into the video community.
posted by Addlepated at 12:06 PM on August 28, 2006


Interesting. I'll be looking for your article.
posted by eatitlive at 1:13 PM on August 28, 2006


The videos are nowhere near as interesting as the discussion. I really have no idea what to think. I spent the time to watch every single video of hers (as well as Danielbeast's responses) even though some of it was painful.

It's clearly not on the level. It's slickly produced, with a very pat storyline, that girl is a trained actor, and she is not 16. The Allister Crowley shot wasn't just coincidence. This is a production of some sorts. I really have no clue whether it's some sort of bland viral marketing, someone's pet project, or an experiment in alternate presentation, but it's definitely something. That's what makes it interesting, really, not the videos themselves.

The Brian Flemming factsheet is extremely damning, but it's also a bunch of circumstancial (or at best coincidental) evidence. Stranger coincidences have been known to happen.
posted by cj_ at 2:41 PM on August 28, 2006


Exactly, cj_: alone the videos aren't very interesting. Get into the backstory, and it's fascinating.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:31 PM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I fully agree it's fascinating to think about, at least, but will it stay fascinating, and thus be a work of art?
posted by cgc373 at 7:46 PM on August 28, 2006


The videos are nowhere near as interesting as the discussion. I really have no idea what to think.

The Brian Flemming aspect would be fascinating if it was intended to called out as "fake" from the beginning, and his own criticism is part of the fiction.

While I don't believe the videos are real, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with the editing or acting. I remember reading on the IMDB message boards that some people were convinced that Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" was an elaborate hoax, that the guy was alive, that the coroner was obviously an actor, which was nonsense.
posted by bobo123 at 9:24 PM on August 28, 2006


zefrank is cool, thanks Plutor.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:25 AM on August 29, 2006


Quoth Plutor:

All you folks saying "it's too well produced!!!!", have you watched the show with zefrank? The editing is ten times better. And does anyone think that he's the mouthpiece for some astroturfing campaign? Is it because he's a guy that people think it's believable? Or because he's a little older than she is?

You hit it on the head. Some people can't believe that a "girl" could figure out iMovie or some other consumer-level editing tool enough to do some very basic editing. I don't know or care whether this is a "real" person or not, but the writing and editing are well within the reach of a bookish 16-year-old boy... and therefore, well within the reach of a 16-year-old girl. This could be a marketing gimmick, but to assume that this is the case based on the quality of the writing and editing strikes me as sexist.
posted by Mister_A at 9:44 AM on August 29, 2006


"Was I just entertained or was I just ripped the fuck off by marketing tripe deliberately designed to imitate "lo-fi" and circumvent any whit of original creativity and professionalism (actors, writers, cinematographers, lighting designers) simply so it can make MORE goddamn money."
These two possibilities are far from mutually exclusive.
posted by chicobangs at 11:30 PM on August 30, 2006


Update
posted by onalark at 5:31 AM on September 8, 2006


A few days later, the people behind it have come forward and 'fessed up. The authors are two men and a woman in their mid 20's. The two people who appear in the video are actors they recruited. And her name seems to be Jessica Rose, age 19.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:10 AM on September 14, 2006


Jessica Lee Rose speaks!
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:03 PM on September 15, 2006


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