Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lonelygirl15 Fading Queen of the YouTube Hoaxes

Who remembers the viral internet phenomenon known as "lonelygirl15"? 

She was a hoax, pretending to be an average teenage girl named Bree, who had boyfriend problems and cult anxieties. A series of videos, claiming to be genuine and honest, dribbled across YouTube like a bad basketball full of hot angst and air.

It lasted from June 2006 to August 2008. The clever web forensics crowd of online debunkers quickly ripped the show apart and revealed it to be a scam in September 2006, but it continued as a series of videos for a while longer.

It stands as a lesson to those who are too trusting, naive, and susceptible to online scams. For example, dating sites, which are haunted by predators, serial rapists, and married men pretending to be single.

I recall blogging about this show, and posting comments, telling people it was a hoax, but as usual, that just angered fans, who clung desperately to the illusion presented to them.

When an episode discussed her being "chosen" and groomed, with a special diet and other strange preparations, for a special "ritual" and her participation in a "weird religion", the show generated a lot more controversy.

Here's my post about "lonely girl 15" that I wrote in September 2006, the month we were unveiling the truth about this online persona (the video I embedded in my post has been deleted):

According to KnowYourMeme:


After the series was revealed to be fictional, the videos took a serious change in direction starting with the video entitled “A Change In My Life”, in which she addresses her religious beliefs.

Her participation in occult practices was first alluded to in the August 6th, 2006 video titled “What Did Daniel and Dad Talk About?” when a shrine is shown in Bree’s room with a framed portrait of Aleister Crowley, the founder of Thelema [a pseudo-philosophical form of satanism, endorsed by Jay Z].

YouTubers used clips from this video to argue that she was a Satanist. In the videos following this one, her involvement with occult practices became a reoccurring theme, evolving into a complex story with multiple characters.


Lonelygirl15 was he first successful YouTube Soap Opera.

New York Times called it "one of the Internet’s more elaborately constructed mysteries".

No comments: