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The Lonelygirl15 Phenomenon

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We are entering the golden age of video largely because of the ubiquity and inexpensive availablility of video equipment. The Lonelygirl15 internet series may be the first of its generation's Rebel Without a Cause to impact cultural events.

During the 1960s, sex was transformed from a largely biological function into a recreational activity. Today, observational reality is being transformed from an authorized dictum into a recreational reality. Comedy Central's The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were the first shows to mine this blurring of reality on such a scale since Orson Wells' "War of the Worlds" broadcast.

And, much as they deny their content to be entertainment only, the fact is that they succeed in presenting reality better than any of the other television series claiming to actually present reality as entertainment. The distinction between the foreground and background of reality and entertainment has become an intellectual distortion similar to an op-art painting. What are we witnessing?

The videolets whose theme was lonelygirl15 are today being called a fraud. But I disagree. Our social interactions in day-to-day life are no more manipulative than anything these videos performed. The first person narrative form of these videos simply invites and exploits the same dimension of recreational reality as many inferior television venues attempt to tap. For its fans, the soap opera narrative is not merely passive, it is engaging and emotionally compelling.

In fact, for fans of these confessionals, social networking using the very same media surrounds, complements, and extends the original product in ways that Hollywood has never considered. This is not an experimental audience participation scheme where you can vote on the ending of choice. This is a mash-up. Reality dictates sequence of narrative yet the audience participation, anticipation, and speculations are driving backstories as interesting as the original plot and sometimes affecting that plot.

The same iconic stature that James Dean earned in the fifties may be conferred upon Lonelygirl15 as this generation begins to explore the concepts of recreational reality as captured by the thousands of videos being broadcast to give us glimpses of the world around us.

What will we make of it all?

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About Frank Krasicki

  • Eric Olsen

    great stuff Frank, very interesting and perceptive take on the phenomenon and the age – thanks!

  • nugget

    excellent perspective!

    Have you seen the French movie entitled “Cache'”. I think it plays with this idea of an engaged audience. That is, the lines of surveillance are blurred and the importance is not that the surveillance exists, but that it presents a story in which the audience can interact and improvise with the plot….

    this type of phenomenon serves my theory that people opt for the theatrical, even if it means being dishonest, totally honest, or completely anonymous.

  • http://manuelhp42.blogspot.com Manny Hernandez

    Fantastic points made, Frank! I linked you from my blog.

  • nugget

    every moment I think back on Huxley’s “Brave New World”, the more I am amazed at his insight. He thought people would PREFER, eventually, to be watched….rather than taking the more obvious Orwellian route…

    Huxley believed that old conservative notions like embarassment or shame would be obliterated by the consumerists’ journey to a comfortable and stable world.

    I guess with the Patriot Act, scaremongering, and people opting for cameras in their bathrooms proves both Orwell and Huxely knew a bit of what they were talking about.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Wait a sec. This makes no sense.

    “The first person narrative form of these videos simply invites and exploits the same dimension of recreational reality as many inferior television venues attempt to tap.”

    So it’s okay for Lonelygirl15 to pretend to be real because of existing reality television already bastardizing the concept?

    How about it’s all worthless bullshit?