September 13, 2006

Lonelygirl, the professional film project.

The masterminds of the Lonelygirl15 videos are Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, Calif., and Miles Beckett, a doctor turned filmmaker....

“We were all under N.D.A.’s” [software engineer Grant] Steinfeld said, referring to non-disclosure agreements the cast — and their friends — were asked to sign to preserve the mystery of Lonelygirl15. “They had a lawyer involved,” he said. “My first impression was like, wow, can this be legitimate? Is this ethical? I was very concerned about that in the beginning.”
Did you watch these videos? I watched the first one and thought it looked too well done and too conspicuously designed to appeal to people who were not me. Fan quoted in the article: "she’s really not into Feynmann and Jared Diamond! (I’m heart-broken...)."

I like the way this illustrates the two sides of web behavior: individual users plunge into solo voyeurism but also coalesce into networks and perform intense investigations:
When Mr. Steinfeld’s dummy site, which had been set up before the first Lonelygirl15 video was even posted, struck users as suspicious and unsupervised — Mr. Steinfeld says he grew tired of running it, and dropped out of the project — fans set up their own site devoted to Lonelygirl15, which soon attracted more than a thousand members.

Both sites drew contributions from novelists, journalists, academics, day traders, lawyers, bloggers, filmmakers, video game designers, students, housewives, bored youngsters and experts on religion and botany. In the cacophony of conjecture, analysis, close-readings, jokes, insults, and distractions, good information sometimes surfaced.

Last month, a Lonelygirl15 fan discovered and posted a trademark application by Mr. Goodfried, which seemed to prove that the videos, which presented themselves as nothing but a video diary, were at least in part a commercial venture. Then, last week, three tech-savvy fans, working together, set up a sting on the e-mail being used by “Bree”; the operation revealed to them the I.P. address of Creative Artists Agency.
So, did the filmmakers succeed? Do you care about their project? Or do you feel defrauded and one notch more suspicious of anything that seems too good to be true?


Telecomedian said...

Somebody pointed me towards the Lonelygirl posts a few weeks ago, and my first thought was that she was just a little too pretty and poised. She looked too mature to be merely 15; she delivers the kind of poise that certain theater-types project - good voice, probably a dance student as well. Not the actions of an untrained young girl.

Still, I hope that this little ruse reminds a new generation of internet users that not everything online is what it seems.

HaloJonesFan said...

On the other hand...The fact that it's now a form of "meta-advertising"--as in, come see the fake thing that turned out to be an ad--doesn't really mean anything, because the ultimate purpose of advertising is to get the idea into people's heads by whatever means. The only way it would have failed would have been if nobody cared about Lonelygirl15 in the first place.

And, indeed, some people are now more invested in the whole thing, because they "found out" about it.

altoids1306 said...

I watch quite a bit of Youtube, although I mostly watch foreign TV shows. Didn't watch the Lonelygirl15 videos, although I noticed they are on the front page. (I usually go straight to my favorite search terms.)

I don't think people will be affected one way or another. There are hoaxes online everyday. Someone will release a picture, allegedly of the next iPod, and a horde of people will deconstruct it. Bonzai kitten, etc.

She got her 15 mins of fame, just like the Numa Numa guy.

Dave said...

I have no clue what you're blogging about here.

Pastor_Jeff said...

This is one of the benefits of not being up on every Internet trend -- not only did I not waste time on this, now I'm not disappointed it was a hoax!

yetanotherjohn said...

This seems to me to be a form of the newspapers of the 1800's which would use stories about "real people" who weren't real to boost circulation.

Does your life really change if she is "real" vs made up? I think it is similar to the media obsession with celebrity where you take "fake people" (aka actors portaying roles) and then watch them as "real" (aka as themselves). But the soap opera aspects seem to be what is followed in their "real" life.

In short, I don;t care one way or another.

SippicanCottage said...
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Theo Boehm said...

People are making stuff up on the Internet? I'm shocked!

At least she wasn't a bot and the whole thing computer animation.
(Er...she wasn't, was she?)

Jeremy said...

"On the RC Collin's Stink-O-Meter: Pppppllllbbbbhhh! Yep, Tuna Salad"

Who do you think will turn out to be fake next?

peter hoh said...

Looked at one of those clips on youtube and couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Too much navel gazing and too much inside references for me to care to look at more than a couple of minutes.

As for faked teenage angst, my fave is

Fenrisulven said...