Wednesday, September 13, 2006

absolutely fascinating

I have to admit, I was completely sucked in and suckered. There's apparently been a mystery taking shape on the internet for the last few months, a mystery that I inadvertently stumbled across about a month ago while working in my office through lunch.

See, for the last two months, I've had a bunch of working lunches. While I eat, I frequently find myself processing audio files on my Mac while watching videos on my PC at YouTube to kill the time. There is a metric ton of bullshit videos on there. Mostly I seem to enjoy watching bloopers of live TV news (don't ask why - I don't know). However, as they're littered all over the place on YouTube, I've also watched a number of lame video blogs by people. Interestingly, YouTube seems to be creating it's own brand of celebrity, Z-list level celebs who blog about their lives and are occasionally picked up by other people. There's stuff from TheKidFromBrooklyn, some grumpy fuck who now does guest spots on radio stations around the country. There's Gary Brolsma, the inadvertent star of the "Numa Numa" crap that went around the internet for a while. Anyway, you get the point. People post personal videos and then those videos get comments from other users and the cycle repeats.

Now, when I started to look at people's videos, I was surprised to see a particular name keep coming up. People would say things like "this is just as dumb as lonelygirl15" or "ur such a poser lonelygirl15 is much betr." So, naturally curious, I searched for the name and found her videos.

Here's the basic premise: lonelygirl15 is apparently some homeschooled 16 year-old girl in the mid-west which overbearing parents, a best friend named Daniel, a myspace page, and a lot of time on her hands to make YouTube videos. She gets TONS of comments from people all of the time as they're all interested in the drama unfolding in her life between her father, her friend Daniel, and some apparent tension surrounding an upcoming "religious ceremony" she needs to take part in.

It's sketchy on most of the details, but the clips looks like any old video blog. But guess what?

It's a complete fake. The Los Angeles Times is running a story today all about how it's the brain child of three Los Angeles filmmakers who are trying to use the medium of YouTube to create a mystery series in pieces that evolves and develops based on the comments left by YouTube users at the end of each "episode."

I find it completely fascinating that someone looked at the video blog/free-distribution nature of YouTube and said "That's the perfect forum for a 21st century thriller/mystery." It's brilliant and so convincingly done. My hat's off the the filmmakers.

What's also completely fascinating is that they did such a good job making this girl seem real that now there's a big angry backlash online of people who are pissed off at being duped. The entire situation is so interesting to watch unfold. Theater mimicked reality TV so much that people bought it hook, line, and sinker, and then felt ripped off when their free entertainment turned out to be scripted.

Just makes me wonder how frequently this happens where it doesn't get outed and goes under the radar as fact instead of extremely well-constructed fiction.

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