Lonelygirl15



Lonelygirl15 is a fictional vlog on YouTube, a popular video sharing website, uploaded by the user of the same name. She identifies herself in her videos as Bree. This article refers to both the character and the series interchangeably. Originally thought to be real, the character achieved massive popularity with her series of videos. But viewers began to question the reality of the videos, and the character was soon exposed as a fiction, played by the New Zealand actress, Jessica Rose. The series was created by Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and film-maker from Marin County, California, and Miles Beckett, a surgical residency dropout-turned-film-maker.

The central themes of their video blogs are:

* Unrequited love/romantic confusion - Bree is unsure of how to react when Daniel confesses that he 'likes her'.

* Rebellion against parenting - Bree is homeschooled by parents who she implies are also strictly religious.

* Forbidden experimentation - her parents are apparently unaware of her video blogs.

As the plot has advanced, the above themes have been reinforced with increasing frequency. Bree turns increasingly from the guidance of her parents to that of Daniel. It is not clear yet whether Daniel is intended as the hero or villain of the piece, only that Bree is questioning her parents' authority because of him. In episodes in early September 2006, Bree disregards her parents' instruction forbidding her to go to a party Daniel has invited her to--her first act of open disobedience to parental authority, she tells us. We learn later (in a video called "House Arrest") that she has climbed down a tree adjacent to her window, gone to the party, was discovered on her return by her father, and is confined to the house for the next two weeks. This event seems to be a defining one in this plot, because she vows that she will stop listening to parental dictates she doesn't agree with--she will in fact sneak out again the next day to meet Daniel and her new friends--and she celebrates this fact by decorating a lemon with a generic male face and the label "Dad" and then proceeds to squeeze it into a juicer. At the same time, however, she reassures us that she still intends to go through with the mysterious "religious ceremony" her father has had her preparing for--that she still stands by her beliefs.

There are also other recurring motifs in the videos. For example, the phrase "Proving Science Wrong" is repeated on many occasions. Early on, the phrase seems to only refer to Bree's spirited science experiments with Daniel, but it also ties into the general air of mysticism, experimentation and rebellion raised by the rest of the story.

* In the episode "A Change in My Life", Bree talks about a strange religious coming of age ritual, and a picture of Aleister Crowley is seen above an unlit candle shrine in her bedroom. Based on these clues, viewers have speculated that Bree is an occultist.

* The video "Bree The Cookie Monster" has Bree rate three cookies. The scores in order are "10", "12", and "06" (not just "6"). 10/12/06, or October 12, 2006, which would be this year's birthday of Aleister Crowley. Additional support for this inference comes from the August 18, 2006 lonelygirl15 posting in which she discusses "the wet" season in Australia -- where she lived for a time as a child -- and a bizarre incident in which her father brings her out into the countryside in the middle of the night in anticipation of "black clouds" dumping rain on top of them and the farmers nearby. This is suggestive of the wiccan, pagan, or druidic holy days of Lughnassadh, which is said to be close to Australia Day. What Bree describes happened on that night sounds like some kind of druidic agricultural ritual. Similarly, in her September 3, 2006 entry, she discusses being chosen to participate in a strange and secretive religious "ceremony" that will require her to memorize passages, learn special exercises, and go on a diet. She indicates that she would describe her beliefs, but she believes that many viewers would be disrespectful.

* During the video "What did Daniel and Dad Talk About", Daniel is about to light candles next to a picture of Aleister Crowley when he is stopped by Bree.

* In several videos Bree talks about how at her parent's request she is "preparing" for a ceremony important to her religion. In the video "Should I Or Shouldn't I?" Bree says she has asked her Dad if she can go to a party with Daniel. She tells us he refused, and that "the reason I couldn't go is because he said I 'still have too much preparing to do'". She continues "I prepare all day. I do exercises. I memorize passages. I'm memorizing a language that nobody has spoken in like..." (She trails off). "And when I brought THAT up, my Dad said it was a huge honor and if I didn't want to do it then..." (Bree is interrupted by a sound from the hallway). This suggests that soon Bree may learn a lot more about her religion than she counted on, or understands.

* The picture of Aleister Crowley on Bree's wall implies they are all Thelemites. But the early videos use a still camera and don't fully show the Crowley altar -- we do not see more than the fact that there are candles until Daniel himself makes his first appearance in one of Bree's videos. It is at least possible that Daniel is responsible for its presence and that Bree's parents either don't know about it or understand what it symbolizes.

* Daniel's "username", Danielbeast is also highly suggestive of the occult, and Satan worship specifically. Aleister Crowley was well known for referring to himself as "The Beast". Connections have also been made to the biblical Daniel, and his apocalyptic vision of four beasts.

* During the "House Arrest" video, when explaining her rationale for discontinuing her consistent adherence to her parent's demands, Bree says "So, from now on, if they're not gonna say yes, and it's something that I wanna do..."(she trails off at this point.) This could be a reference to the general idea of Thelema, a philosophy propagated by Aleister Crowley, which is "Do what thou wilt."

* In the video "House Arrest", Bree is seen with a bandage on featured prominently on her left shoulder. In the comments that followed "House Arrest", Bree replied to questions about the bandage by saying, "it's nothing...i just had to get a shot". In the following video, "In the Park", we see Bree taking pills which Daniel identifies out loud as iron pills. This suggests that Bree is drawing blood for some purpose. The video links it to Bree's beliefs, and possibly the ceremony she is going to participate it, by having Daniel ask, "Is your father making you take those?" This speculation is open to skepticism however, as women commonly take iron supplements during/following ovulation.

The redesign of http://www.lonelygirl15.com shows some clear references to Thelema:

* At the bottom right of the page, the greek letters θέλημα can be seen of which "Thelema" is a transliteration.

* The blue header bar on the main page contains three images of the Unicursal Hexagram, which is a common symbol of Thelema.

* At the bottom left of the page, the phrase "Site design by Darbyite Design" appears. Aleister Crowley's parents were Darbyites, more specifically Exclusive Brethren. It should be noted that some of the information that Bree gives about her life, such as being home schooled, having a strict religious upbringing, and her father's working within the church, are in agreement with the views of the Exclusive Brethren.

Due to alleged inconsistencies in the "blogs", questions were raised as to lonelygirl15's authenticity. Some commentators suggested that lonelygirl15 may be part of a teaser campaign for a TV show, film, or brand, in development, or that it might be an Alternate reality game.

Some of the points made are:

* The website lonelygirl15.com, supposedly created by a fan, was registered in May 2006, a week or two prior to Bree actually uploading her first video.

* Bree has had several fights with Daniel, the boy in the video that supposedly does the video editing, on webcam. However, he still edits the videos and leaves the fights on video to be posted on YouTube. It should be noted that Bree has claimed to edit those particular videos, but it is still unlikely a girl who just endured real fights with her only friend would upload those fights to YouTube.

* The lighting in the room, and the quality of the video, are far more professional than would be expected from a typical blogger with a webcam.

* The videos could all have been shot in the span of a few days. The only mention of specific YouTube users occurred in the first postings. Thereafter, the only responses to user comments were generic and vague, eg: "Some of you guys were asking about ..." This theory was shown to be incorrect, or at least incorrect in reference to the vlog "Bree the Cookie Monster", which cites certain comments.

On September 7, 2006, a message was posted on www.lonelygirl15.com's forums under the name "The Creators," stating that lonelygirl15 is fictionalized. The message was posted in a new category entitled "Message From The Creators." Only the forum administrator has the authority to create a new category, so this suggests that "The Creators" is the administrator or at least enjoys direct co-operation from the administrator. The statement by "The Creators" describes the lonelygirl15 project as "the birth of a new art form," a phrase which had previously appeared in a New York Magazine article, "Hey There, Lonelygirl" (in the August 28 issue).

Whether or not this website is affiliated with the user lonelygirl15 on YouTube is currently unknown. However, it should be noted that lonelygirl15.com was registered on May 12, two full weeks before the first video aired on YouTube (May 24) which either suggests pre-emptive knowledge by the website owner of the lonelygirl15 username, or extraordinary luck.

As of September 9, 2006, new videos appearing on lonelygirl15's alleged website featured advertisements at the end, but this is because whoever is running the website switched from using direct feeds of the YouTube videos to uploading them to Revver, a service that allows video creators to make money from their videos by having ads automatically inserted after their videos.

The video quality seen at lonelygirl15.com appears to be larger and sharper than on YouTube, however it is unclear whether this means lonelygirl15.com has access to original footage, or whether lonelygirl15.com took footage from YouTube and digitally enhanced or sharpened it. Later videos in the series are posted in Quicktime format, originally lending credibility to the idea that lonelygirl15.com had access to inside information in the way of advance copies or higher resolution videos than those provided on YouTube.

The first significant break regarding the authenticity of lonelygirl15 was reported in an article dated September 8, 2006, wherein the Los Angeles Times reported that on August 29, 2006, three lonelygirl15 fans set up a sting operation using IP address tracking software that showed that e-mails sent from a lonelygirl15 MySpace account were traced to the offices of Creative Artists Agency ("CAA"), a powerful Hollywood talent agency based in Beverly Hills. According to the article, the three conspiracy theorists who set up the sting operation were Shaina Wedmedyk, an 18-year-old Oberlin College freshman; Chris Patterson, a 36-year old software engineer from Tulsa, Okla.; and a 23-year old law student in Pennsylvania who declined to be identified by name.

In that same Los Angeles Times article, a CAA spokesman said that he "could neither confirm nor deny" that CAA is representing whomever is behind lonelygirl15. All other agencies contacted by the Los Angeles Times, however, denied any involvement.

On September 12, 2006, the New York Times confirmed that the filmmakers are represented by CAA and that CAA was one of several locations used by Flinders and Steinfeld to send emails from lonelygirl15 accounts. On September 13th, 2006, the creators of lonelygirl15 gave their first media interview to the Los Angeles Times. In that interview, Greg Goodfried, a 27-year-old lawyer and one of three partners involved in the production, conceded that the CAA connection was established in early August 2006. A spokesman for CAA also acknowledged that the talent agency officially represents the lonelygirl15 filmmakers.

On September 8th 2006, people claiming to be the creators of Lonelygirl15 pointed out that it was fake, on Lonelygirl15.com saying (in part):

the biggest mystery of Lonelygirl15 is "who is she?" We think this is an oversimplification.

A federal trademark application, US Serial No. 78957059, for the term lonelygirl15 was filed on August 22, 2006 by Kenneth Goodfried of Encino, California. In the application he includes screenshots of an article about lonelygirl15, states that he is the sole owner of the trademark, and that he has been using the trademark in interstate commerce since May 24, 2006. The first lonelygirl15 video was uploaded to youtube on that day. Kenneth Goodfried is registered with the California Bar to practice law in California.

On September 12, the website Top Of The Tube, which carries news and reviews of YouTube videos, published a video identifying Bree as a woman called Jessica Rose on the basis of photographs found on the photo hosting site Photobucket.

According to Top Of The Tube, Jessica Rose is an "aspiring actress" from New Zealand who currently lives in Los Angeles. This would be consistent with minor speech idiosyncrasies, such as in her video "Should I or Shouldn't I?" saying, "I've never been to a party before," in which "been" is pronounced like "bean," not "bin," as in standard American speech. Similarly, her video "Schoolwork in Summer" includes non-American pronunciations of homeschooled, schoolwork, cannibals, Roman empire, eaten, Antarctica and continent. In the video "Mysteries of My Past... REVEALED!", Bree said that she had lived on a commune in New Zealand. It would thus be plausible for her accent to be influenced by New Zealand pronunciation.

Also on September 12, the website Silicon Valley Watcher published an "exclusive" article, "The identity of LonelyGirl15", likewise naming Jessica Rose as the actress portraying Bree. The article added that Jessica Rose was nineteen years old and from Mount Maunganui in the North Island.

Later the same day, Silicon Valley Watcher published two follow-ups, "The Hunt for LonelyGirl15: Life in a blogger household..." and "How the secret identity of LonelyGirl15 was found", explaining how Matthew Foremski, son of publisher Tom Foremski, had pursued a blog posting about Jessica Rose's MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/jeessss426) and used Google's cache to recover deleted pages and images, as well as setting up his own online forum "to see what additional information he could flush out, and to see how the online community reacted to the news". They also claim that other websites which identified Jessica Rose as Bree took their information from Silicon Valley Watcher without acknowledging it as the source.

However, at least one group of fans had independently discovered Bree's true identity earlier that same night, and many decried the Foremskis for taking complete credit for unmasking Bree when actually it was just the culmination of a long-running investigation to which many "Breespotters" submitted clues they found. One poster named Ennovi on a lonelygirl15 message board run by Alissa Brooke had already reported the finding at 1.41 AM on September 12, the Silicon Valley Watcher reported the finding afterward.

Later on September 12, the website Blogger's Blog produced evidence that the actress' name might actually be "Jessica Lee Rose". They base this theory mainly on a deleted page, cached by Google, from the website of Clyne Management, a New Zealand talent agency. The name "Jessica Lee Rose" also matches a message left on another Myspace profile by Jeessss426 (the MySpace account associated with the actress). The cached page where these messages are found have an image of Aleister Crowley in the background.

New York Times reporter Virginia Heffernan expanded on the series of revelations on September 12th out with an article which confirmed Jessica Rose's identity, and revealed the identities of her "co-conspirators", Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, Calif., and Miles Beckett, a doctor-turned-filmmaker. According to Heffernan, speculation that a professional studio was used for the filming is incorrect — Bree's bedroom scenes were in fact filmed in Mr. Flinders’s very own bedroom using nothing more than a Logitech QuickCam, a Web camera that retails for about $150. Software engineer Grant Steinfeld was also involved in this project, as a photographer. Amanda Solomon Goodfried, an assistant at Creative Artists Agency, assisted in their efforts to hide their identities, and a lawyer — Ms. Goodfried's father-in-law, Kenneth Goodfried — handled various legal matters. The personnel involved worked under an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) according to Grant Steinfield. Steinfield has verified most of this information to the Times, and provided photographs he took on set of Ms. Rose as proof.

The three main "creators" gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times, which appeared even later in the day on September 12. Besides Mr. Beckett and Mr. Flinders, already revealed, the third major partner was revealed as Greg Goodfried, who presumably is related to Amanda and Kenneth Goodfried, although he states that the CAA connection came "through a friend who works at the agency." Associated Press published an interview with Jessica Rose on September 14 in which she described how she had become involved in the project and stated that she would continue working on it. In addition to the Associated Press interview, she also appeared on MTV News on September 14th (alongside Ramesh Flinders), speaking in her New Zealand accent.

On September 13, the site Top of the Tube began circulating the trailer for Jessica Rose's first film Dearly Beloved directed by Leah Salvesen in which she starred in as a distressed bride-to-be.

On the evening of Thursday, September 14th, Jessica Rose made a suprise appearence on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. During her brief appearence she stated her name, where she was from, her actual age, and that she was not lonely anymore. Following her last remark, Tucker Carlson came out on stage and music was cued. The two began dancing together until the commercial break.

The actor behind Danielbeast is named Yousef Abu-Taleb. He was discussed by name by Ramesh Flinders and Jessica Rose during their September 14 MTV News appearance. Photos of Abu-Taleb from outside of the lonelygirl15 project have started to appear, and were compiled on YouTube into a video scrapbook called "Danielbeast Exposed".

On September 13, 2006, after the hoax had been revealed, lonelygirl15 posted a new video entitled "In the Park" thus fulfilling the promise that the authors made in a New York Times article, stating that they will continue the story of lonelygirl15 and Danielbeast despite the public's awareness that the blog is fictional. A video for a spinoff created by the team behind the lonelygirl15 videos was promised by NYT reporter Virginia Heffernan, and has been revealed on youtube under the name cassieiswatching, which is being interpreted as a reference to the "Cassie" that was mentioned in lonelygirl15's vlog entitled "Swimming." For more information, see cassieiswatching. In "Swimming" Bree playfully whispers to the audience "He's probably not taking me swimming at all. He's probably taking me into the woods to hack me into little pieces and eat me."Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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