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September 6, 2006

Late to the Party

I'm very late to the LonelyGirl15 party. The basics as I understand them: Bree, a sixteen-year old homeschooled girl living in the middle of nowhere ("300 miles from the nearest mall") has been posting videos on YouTube for the last two months, in which she complains about her parents, talks about her friend Daniel, and discusses everything from Richard Feynman to religion. The videos have recently spawned a number of debates about their authenticity, including a recent discussion of her "Swimming" video, in which one attentive viewer identifies a plant that appears to be native to Southern California (to name just one example of the details that viewers are poring over).

I've only just begun rewatching the videos and reading the forums, but my current take on the "LonelyGirl15 conspiracy?" Brian Flemming is right: It's all about the game, and I'll be playing all night. More later, but I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Update One (the first of many, I'm sure): Lonelygirl15's MySpace page, Virginia Heffernan's NYT blog entry with an email from Bree; her arguments that LonelyGirl15 is a fraud; and yet another email from Bree. I'm fascinated by the conspiracies, whether true or not, including one theory that makes much of the coincidence that the outdoor footage appears to have been filmed in a section of SoCal not too far from....wait for it....the headquarters of YouTube.

Update 2 (yeah, there will probably be more): Jon Fine has done some digging and believes that LonelyGirl15 is the work of a performance coterie working to get a deal for a web serial, a theory that seems mildly convincing, especially given some of Brian's questions about Bree's decision to post "I Probably Shouldn't Post This..." And, he's right, the Aleister Crowley allusions are a great plot twist. Also notable, while I'm in the neighborhood: Brian reads the "proving Science Wrong" videos much like I do. They are clear parodies of anti-science videos that actually seem to imply that scientific reasoning is right. What that means for the larger narrative is a whole 'nother matter. I've officially been at this for 2.5 hours tonight.

Update 3: Also worth checking out: Terryfic's very funny video response to LonelyGirl15, "I am the very model of a popular YouTube auteur."

Update 4: I'll start a new entry on LG15 soon, but I just wanted to mention Dee Cook's interesting post about the LG15 phenomenon on the Alternate Reality Gaming Network.

Posted by chuck at September 6, 2006 9:11 PM

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I've been working on putting something together about this, too, Chuck. My theory (and I'm not alone here-- see the unfiction forums for starters)is that this is an ARG of some sort (related to what? Halo 3? Something else entirely?); my second theory is that even if it's not an ARG of some sort, the fact that we can't tell the difference speaks volumes about the sorts of narratives we're accustomed to. This seems to be the week that everyone is catching on to lonelygirl15-- which can only mean that there's some real twists in our (her) future. Can't wait to see what, if anything, is in store for us.....

Posted by: marc at September 7, 2006 1:34 AM

Yes, LG15 seems to be reaching critical mass this week, so I'll be intrigued to see how the story plays out. I had planned to compare LG15 to Lost at one point, which isn't quite the same thing, but the deliberate dropping of clues certainly fits that kind of game (dropping the numbers 10/12/06, etc). But as you point out, if it's not an ARG, then that does say a lot about the kinds of narratives we're producing and consuming today.

Posted by: Chuck at September 7, 2006 9:57 AM

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