The End of Lonelygirl?

September 13th, 2006 by Alex

Well, it’s all over. The not-so-secret secret of the identity of YouTube superstar Lonelygirl15 has finally been cracked. The New York Times‘ Virginia Heffernan reports:

The woman who plays Lonelygirl15 on the video-sharing site has been identified as Jessica Rose, a 20-ish resident of New Zealand and Los Angeles and a graduate of the New York Film Academy. And the whole project appears to be the early serialized version of what eventually will become a movie.

Matt Foremski, the 18-year-old son of Tom Foremski, a reporter for the blog Silicon Valley Watcher, was the first to disinter a trove of photographs of the familiar-looking actress, who portrayed the character named Bree in the videos. …

The masterminds of the Lonelygirl15 videos are Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, Calif., and Miles Beckett, a doctor turned filmmaker. The high quality of the videos caused many users to suspect a script and production crew, but Bree’s bedroom scenes were shot in Mr. Flinders’s home, in his actual bedroom, typically using nothing more than a Logitech QuickCam, a Web camera that retails for about $150.

Together with Grant Steinfeld, a software engineer in San Francisco, Mr. Flinders contrived to produce and distribute the videos to pique maximum curiosity about them.

Sigh. It was too good to be true, I suppose.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this — on the one hand, it’s a creative thing to do. On the other hand, it’s a betrayal of the whole idea of YouTube, of personal media, and in some ways, of Bree — this wasn’t, ultimately, the story of a “lonely girl” who saw personal media as her only outlet. It was crass commercialization. (Sort of.) I can’t quite decide yet, but I’m pretty sure this whole thing sticks in my craw. I’m interested to hear what you all think.