Lonelygirl15 is a vlog (video blog) created by Mesh Flinders, Miles Becket and Greg Goodfried during the summer of 2006. The episodes appeared on YouTube, following an initial vlog commemorating popular poster paytotheorderofofof - another female vlogger. The video received approximately 500,000 views, enabling lonelygirl15's page to become more popular. lonelygirl15 adopted the Youtube vlog style, confessional direct address to the camera, to pass itself off as amateur user-generated content. Therefore, viewers of the series thought the postings were based on the real life of sixteen-year-old Bree, played by actress Jessica Rose. The producers deliberately made the topics of Bree's initial vlogs trivial to convince the growing audience of Bree's authenticity. Additionally, producers created a MySpace page to give Bree depth beyond her vlogging, as she was now able to correspond back and forth with her fans.
As the videos became more popular, however, the content changed, becoming stranger and more mysterious. The outlandish subject matter of Bree's posts as well as the sleuthing of many fans exposed Bree as a fake after three months of blogging. Matthew Foremski, and 18 year old computer wiz, found Jessica Rose's old MySpace page. In the end, a small group of college students traced Bree's email account to the Creative Artists Agency, the group behind the videos. However, after Bree was revealed to be a fake, the show continued: "...the fans - raised on the unreality of reality TV and with the role-playing eithos of the Web-seemed to take the revelation in stride," (Davis).
Season One documents Bree's relationship with Daniel, her overprotective parents, religion, her intellectual pursuits, and the typical obstacles of teenage girls. Fans are able to experience Bree's first kiss with Daniel, learning how to drive, fighting with her parents, going to parties and being grounded. Some of the episodes appear on Daniel's YouTube site, creating an interesting dialogue between himself and Bree. In essence, fans of the couple were able to see Daniel's feelings towards Bree before she was able to.
Blogging and Gender
As a vlog, Bree’s appearance is central to the continuation of the blog: “Nerds geek out that Bree lists physicists and poets as heroes and horny guys respond to her cleavage” (Davis). Young teenage girls also find solace and companionship in hearing her boy troubles. Bree's direct address empowers the female viewer; Bree seems confident and in control of her actions. We are not just passive viewers of lonelygirl15, but invited to interact with Bree, unlike television shows. By staring directly into the camera, Bree's testimonials are inherently emotional because she is choosing to reveal feelings and personal information about herself on the Internet. In essence, Bree provides a shared cultural context for both genders.
In an article in the New York Times, Stephanie Rosenbloom discovers that the primary creators of blogs are women, specifically teenage girls (Rosenbloom). Unlike computer games, blogging provides an outlet for girls of every age to express their opinions and show their creativity, ultimately defining themselves as individuals. Although the original series was applauded for showing a “real teenage girl” expressing her individuality, Bree is a puppet, never actually in control of her actions. Essentially, lonelygirl15's vlog is a type of identity theft, stealing the legitimate experience of a teenage girl.
Lonelygirl15 subverts our ideas of blogging because we automatically assume that blogging is an authentic act. In the past decade we have come to associate user-produced content to the actual individual, eliminating the aspect of fantasy and gender-bending on the Internet, creating a space more grounded in reality. In comparision to when lonelygirl15 first appeared on YouTube, individuals who use the Internet today are more sensitive to authenticity.
The Internet: Creation of the Perfect Woman
Essentially, the series brings to life the ultimate nerd male fantasy: an awkward, geeky, homeschooled teenage girl. In reality, the vision for Bree lived for years in the mind of creator Mesh Flinders (Davis). Within Daniel's vlogs, the videos often turn into montages of Bree's figure, with soothing music in the background, emphasizing the sexual male gaze.