Last week it came out that the whole Lonelygirl15 story was an art project by some film makers, not a real teenaged cutie with video skillz. Not very surprising, I know kids that age were pretty much born into all that digital stuff but, really, it was just too well lighted and produced for me to believe it was all homemade.
As is often the case with social site memes and controversies, danah wrote one of the best accounts of the story.
I like the idea that it is an art form but i also think it’s part of what Henry Jenkins calls Convergence Culture. Regardless, it’s super cool that people are using new media to create narratives. They are telling their story, truth or fiction. Of course, this makes many people very uncomfortable. They want blogs and YouTube and MySpace to be Real with a capital R. Or they want it to be complete play. Yet, what’s happening is both and neither. People are certainly playing but even those who are creating “reality” are still engaged in an act of performance.
The whole “field” of using online ressources like YouTube or MySpace is fascinating to me and is sure to offer up a lot more such stories. However, I think we might already be close to the end of the secret ones, except for when the whole point is the questioning and the search, why try to keep it secret? I think more and more are just going to go right out and play it like a pop star or tv show and skip over the whole “look at me, I’m normal, I swear” stage.
One issue about “Reality” and the Online World is that the latter helps us rethink our assumptions about the former. Sometimes in a low-level murmur telling us that “nothing is real anymore.” Sometimes in actual debates about art and artificiality.
As with online journalism and even Wikipedia, cases like these make us “question everything.” But an added dimension, here, is the blurred line between raw, “user-generated,” “Web 2.0” content and planned, professional, and/or commercial attempts.