Many critics have been saying that we are currently in the midst of a golden age of television. (To which I say, And where does Survivor: Third Reich fit into that?) But those well-versed in this Internet I've been hearing so much about know that YouTube is where it's at. And the recent revelation about Lonelygirl15 proves that compelling, new forms of entertainment media are on the rise.
For those of you who don't have the time to creepily fixate on jailbait with video blogs, I'll get you all caught up on the Lonelygirl15 saga. LG15 purports to be Bree, a 16-year-old home-schooled kid. She's bright, fresh-faced, and a little sheltered, carrying on a clandestine romance with her awkward video editor, Daniel. Bree is engaging and believable (though not so believable is the flawless quality of her videos. No camgirl was ever so perfectly lit.) Her family is into some vague religion that creeps Daniel out. Recently, viewers noticed a framed photo of Alistair Crowley in Bree's room that led them to question... could it be Satan???
Little clues like these add to the intrigue, but LG15's sweet, innocent demeanor and overall ridiculous cuteness are what draw thousands of readers to her videos every week. Of course, many suspected that this was an elaborate hoax, and the above article reveals that they were right- sort of. The LG15 project was intended to introduce folks to an episodic version of a movie created by novice filmmakers. These clever guys caught on to the power of YouTube, which has already sent networks scrambling (see NBC frantically pulling SNL skits left and right from the site) and has producer types unnerved about the meteoric rise of home movie appeal among the 18-34 demographic.
And why not? Bree is a character whose everyday mini-dramas young people can relate to (oh, except for that devil worship part). Watching her show is free, and there are no plugs, advertisements, or censors weighing it down (though the nagging sense that Bree is just a promotional tool has turned off some.) With daily videos functioning as amateur, mini soap-operas, Lonelygirl15's episodes seem like something anyone can do - but no one else has yet.
The question is whether viewers will continue to tune in to LG15, now that the jig is up. I'm betting they will, and that other filmmakers will quickly follow suit. It's a highly effective and cheap marketing tool, and the Artist Formerly Known as Bree (actually a Kiwi named Jessica Rose) could easily move to larger screens now, bringing an army a loyal fans with her.