It was approximately a month ago that Fimoculous.com pointed me to a new video blog by Youtube user lonelygirl15. A high-school age girl named Bree, who had been home-schooled but was now out in the real the world, posted videos about her life that were well-edited and cute. She had a soft-spoken delivery that made you feel like you were in on a secret, really looking through a peephole into her life.
While it was clearly very well edited, it was easy to believe that her friend (and more?) Daniel was responsible for this. He had the look of a kid who spend all of seventh and eighth grades teaching himself Final Cut Pro. I was blindly following along, being drawn deeper into their lives, when I hear whispers that the production is a little too good and the scenario is a little too manicured. People start questioning the authenticity of the vlog and a womanhunt begins.
Initially, people thought it might be Brian Flemming of slumdance.com or the minds behind The Blair Witch Project at 42 Entertainment. The waiting ended when the creators of lonelygirl posted this message to a fan site's message board. Some aspiring young filmmakers were behind the production and they planned to continue "usher[ing] in an era of interactive storytelling."
Later that day the LA Times broke the story wide open and on Monday of this week the actress playing Bree was revealed to be Jessica Rose. Today, the New York Times filled in all the missing details, outing the creators by name and explaining that this was all a lead-up to an eventual commercial movie.
While I can't blame the blogosphere and the journalism world for snooping around, I wish they hadn't. Several episodes into the lonelygirl series we learn that Bree's family belongs to a strange religion that many believe to be Satanism. First people caught clues in the "Bree the Cookie Monster" episode and then there was a photo of Aleister Crowley in "A Change in My Life". At this point, no one had proven that the videos were fake, but there was quite a bit of buzz and I couldn't take my eyes away. While I knew there was a good chance it was a ruse, the possibility of this being real was mindblowing. Imagine a Satanist discovering the outside world via YouTube and outing herself in front of everyone. It was too exciting a concept to dismiss.
In the end, finding out that this was all a ruse left me deflated. I didn't mind that everyone thought it was fake, so long as there was a slim possibility Bree was really out there. When I found out she was struggling actress Jessica Stone, I lost all interest. I'm not even sure if a new video has been posted.
While this experimented ended badly for me, it leaves me hopeful. Seeing how far the creators took this and the attention they received, I realize that some kids will produce a YouTube-powered serial story and fade into obscurity, leaving all of us to wonder what really happened. In the meantime, go watch all of Bree's videos if you haven't yet and just pretend like you didn't read the rest of this entry.