LonelyGirl15 Unmasked

What Everyone Is Talking About

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Her name is not Bree, she is not a teenager and she has not been home-schooled by parents who are super-strict and very religious about whatever it is they believe in, and she seems to have more friends than her film editor pal Daniel. The YouTube phenom LonelyGirl15 is in actuality just another aspiring actress. The New York Times Virginia Heffernan today tells us her real name is Jessica Rose, and she is a "twenty something" graduate of the New York Film Academy who hails from New Zealand and Los Angeles.
LonelyGirl15 is actually Jessica Rose, aspiring actress. But we're not left with a hoax, just the platform for a new narrative form.
LonelyGirl15 is actually Jessica Rose, aspiring actress. But we're not left with a hoax, just the platform for a new narrative form.

The unmasking follows the creators posting a confession that the LonelyGirl15 saga was not the efforts of two teenage friends killing time, but a collaborative effort to tell a story. A Sept. 3 "press conference" from YouTube user Lonesome October, hosted by Bree's mascot, Purple Monkey, also made it clear this was a story being told, and not a real girl.

If you haven't caught up to the 4-month-old LonelyGirl15 saga by now, you clearly have not been paying sufficient enough attention to the new pop-culture byways. YouTube is no longer the home of all of teenage America's funniest home videos. It's a platform for a new narrative form.

With over 30,000 subscribers to her channel, the LonelyGirl15 shorts, which have racked up nearly 5.2 million video views, attracted an audience who had to put some work into seeking out this unfolding soap opera of a beautiful young brainiac testing her wings by posting videos without her parents' knowledge.

Bree -- custom-built nerd bait with her sweetly delivered monologues referencing everything from Richard Feynman to the Coriolis effect -- could turn out to be the first bonafide Web 2.0 star. Her videos spawned responses from the YouTube community, which posted an incredibly high number of their own videos that acted as subplots to the central narrative. Was Bree a fake? Were the YouTubers who early tried to debunk her in on the production? Just what are her religious beliefs? Is her ongoing vlogs on "Proving Science Wrong" spoofing her parents' beliefs somehow? What's the meaning was of Adolf Hitler's spiritual adviser Alister Crowely's picture on the wall? Or the significance of 10/12/06? And are Bree's parents Satanists? And was she to be a sacrifice in the religious ceremony she was preparing for (which even her parents would not be allowed to attend)? Was Daniel her savior or himself a sacrificial lamb? What about purple monkey? And most important, will Bree and Daniel become a couple?

YouTube reaction has ranged from extremely angry and profane to pleas to Bree/Jessica to continue posting. The creators, identified by Heffernan as Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, Calif., and Miles Beckett, a doctor turned filmmaker, have set up a website for LonelyGirl to live and give us the end of the story. But somehow Watercooler thinks pulling it off YouTube will mean it could lose the bit that made it so fascinating, the real-time reactions of an involved audience.
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