24 Sep, 2006 | GeneralTdp

I recently stumbled across LonelyGirl15's videos on YouTube (I was having a wander through the most popular videos). For those of you who don't know, LonelyGirl15 (LG) is supposed to be a home schooled 16-year-old who seems to have only one friend (Daniel) apart from her cuddly toys, she belongs to an unnamed religion, lives with her very religious and very controlling parents and spends a lot of time in her room and online.

The small clips that form her video diary have become something of a hit, with tens of thousands of people regularly watching them and 'episodes' clocking up hundreds of thousands of views.

Since she first published three-four months ago people have been suspicious it might have been a hoax or some sort of PR campaign. Some users analysed the emails that she responded to comments with and found they were coming from the CAA talent agency. A fan site dedicated to her was found to have been registered before the first video appeared (how can you be a fan of something that doesn't exist yet?). There were remarks that the quality of the videos were too high for amateur recording. Someone then found pictures of Bree (the name LG uses in her videos, LG is just her username) elsewhere and discovered she was an actress called Jessica. It all culminated with the creators posting a message on the forums of the is it/isn't it fake fan site.

LonelyGirl15/Bree, it turns out, is indeed a ficticious construct of Ramesh Flinders and Miles Beckett, and is played by actress Jessica Rose, whose own history seems to have formed part of Bree. Her friend Daniel is played by Yousef Abu-Taleb.

I found LG after all this happened (though not long after), and found her videos intriguing. I've been watching the old ones knowing all the above and I still enjoy them. Regardless of whether they are real or not, they're still entertaining. I have to confess I was suspicious when I first saw them. I've seen enough webcam videos to know these were too crisp and clean to be shot with one. I figured she must be using a normal video camera. The lighting, which some have indicated is too good, could be down to luck and coincidental placement of the lights in the room, or so I reasoned. It was probably the editing that struck me as odd the most, having done some fast and dirty editing recently and sourced some sound effects, I knew not only how hard it it, but also how much effort it takes to make it as slick as it appears in LG's videos. They're little segments are also extremely well thought out, for effect, far more than anything I've seen produced in ordinary video logs.

There has been some degree of backlash from people who though these videos portrayed a real person. Part of me understands that, part of me doesn't. It seems the series will continue, which means anyone who had emotional investment in the character can continue to enjoy the videos, obviously some people have bonded with 'Bree' because they empathise with a real person who shares some of their trials, tribulations or situation. Ultimately I'm not sure it makes a difference, just because the character isn't real doesn't make what she says or experiences any less valuable.

I find it intriguing. It seems to me that humans are geared to be curious about other people, we're a social species. Gossip is a skill dating back probably as long as speech itself. I think everyone likes to know what their neighbours and work colleagues are up to, whether it be simple things like what they did at the weekend or the new car they've bought or something more revealing. It follows through to the popularity of soap operas and reality TV where we can again nose on other people, but in an environment which is engineered to provide more gossip-worthy situations, hence increasing our addiction.

The whole LG saga provides an interesting look at human relationships, not to mention the implications for future PR campaigns, movies, TV shows and product tie-ins (imagin video logs of characters from upcoming and popular film and TV shows). I happily hooked (not addicted) to LG's videos, I hope they continue.