A couple of days after a YouTube spoof has been outed (See Joost’s entry), it’s easier to take a look at ‘Lonelygirl15’ profile paired with the media wildfire.
Of course, watching her vlogs with the knowledge that it was a manufactured production (even if it was supposedly barebones), it seems quite obvious there was nothing organic about it especially from the editing and a few of the special effects. But hindsight is always 20/20.
Although I agree that the concept is innovative, there is an element that is quite scary to all of this. Unlike Blairwitch, the Lonelygirl15 phenomenon has various repercussions – it all comes down to trust and loss of innocence. Where Blairwitch had the push effect – with various ‘leaks’ and ‘organic’-like effects, this is completely different.
In this case, other YouTube members and fans of bloggers/vloggers react – and for the most part, we’re talking about a young audience.
From a marketing perspective, there is no denying that it’s genious, but the actual social effects are disconcerting. To say that Bree (Lonelygirl’s ‘name’) is ‘sweet and innocent’ as Jessica Rose (the actress who was outed in this spoof) suggested to MTV is a bit rich:
“She’s quirky, she’s fun she’s naive and sweet,” said Ms Rose.
“She is somebody who everybody can relate to in some way. She’s the Everygirl. She’s just somebody you would love to meet and be friends with.”
There’s just something that feels wrong about it all. Why? The bottom line is that most of the people who would have tuned in are young – very young. So, unlike something that doesn’t hide in an identity like the plethora of reality shows on platforms like MTV, this feels more like a lie. So, how can people truly identify?
Now, the filmmakers (not surprisingly, three aspiring types who lives in LA) are defending their fictitious character by saying that they didn’t want to advertise anything. They even released a statement:
“Our intention from the outset has been to tell a story — a story that could only be told using the medium of video blogs and the distribution power of the Internet. Right now, the biggest mystery of lonelygirl15 is ‘Who is she?’ We think this is an oversimplification. Lonelygirl15 is a reflection of everyone. She is no more real or fictitious than the portions of our personalities that we choose to show (or hide) when we interact with the people around us.”
So, what are we left with? A fantastic marketing stunt for some potentially good filmmakers and a maybe-budding actress (with a subversive manner of thinking, if anything). But there’s a loss of innocence and potentially lack of trust on sites that started out organically.
From a hyperthinking perspective, it fits the picture. But there’s something that feels quite sneaky about ‘Lonelygirl15’ – maybe even dirty or wrong.
What’s real? What’s not? To trust or not to trust? Questions, questions…