Fool the World

The Youtube series, lonelygirl15, was about a young girl that makes video blog posts about “her” life.   It gathered a lot of success on Youtube, and the star of the show received a lot of support from people on the internet.  Not long after its success reached its peak were things being question.  The lighting was too good.  The video editing was too professional.  The situations were too extreme.  Community watchdogs were on the prowl and discovered that “Lonelygirl” was actually an actress named Jessica Roe who was hired to play the part of lonely girl.

This lonelygirl15 really fooled the world.  She gathered the trust of a generation of Youtube viewers, she pretended to she their problems and interests.  And she was a hoax.  There are plenty of other incidence of this on the internet.  I suppose the ethic question is about transparency.  Should companies who are funding a production be transparent about who they are when they air things on the internet?  Are we only seeing these Web shows as entertainment or is there a point that we cross the line and become personally invested?


7 thoughts on “Fool the World

  1. I feel companies should differentiate between the reality and staged shows in what they are airing. Viewers have the right to know what they are actually watching. I feel reality shows in general are somewhat staged and this is pretty much universal to all audiences. There definitely is a fine line in becoming too invested in say someone else’s personal posts, say this girl’s life blog. People post these things for other people to react to, but investing so much time in someone else’s life who is a complete stranger can be unhealthy (and pretty stalkerish in terms of real life vs. virtual life). I feel that if this was an actual show and people knew she was an actress its viewership would have definitely changed.

  2. I feel like this is reminiscent of the Johnny Fairplay incident. We talked in class about how the competitors on Survivor took themselves mentally out of the competition to pay Johnny sympathy for what had supposedly happened to him. In this case, people watching lonelygirl15’s videos were taking themselves out of the physical cyberworld of text and photos and felt compassion for a girl that needed a friend to listen to her. The production company played with people’s emotions and I think that’s unethical. I think in this case because people became so invested in her story that the line was crossed. Companies should be transparent in situations like these, not just from an ethical standpoint, but for their own credibility.

  3. That was clever, how they began the lonelygirl15 thing. I don’t think anybody had their heart broken over the fact that she was fake. If they did, they need help. Serious, serious help. The same goes for fanatics of any sort.

    What LG15, or rather her producers, did is no different than what Fox News does on a daily basis. In fact, it’s less morally questionable than what Fox does. LG15 probably never asserted that she was real. Fox News, however, asserts regularly that it is news.

    There’s really no false representation here. It doesn’t matter whether LG15 was real or not; either way, it was a show, it was entertainment. Because if anyone finds themselves emotionally attached to a moving picture on a screen who likes to ramble about its life, maybe it’s time to get out and see people in 3D.

    On a side sort of related note:
    Corporations, as of right now, have more rights than any person could dream of. What would happen if you stole people’s money and were caught? Or if you decided to take the money people entrusted you to safeguard and take it to the casino? To talk about what companies should or should not do is to me a moot point. We all know what companies should NOT do; everything that they do.
    Thank youuuu Ronald Reagan.

  4. So I guess to understand why a company chose to put out this video, we have to understand their reasoning. My guess is they figure that Youtube has so many viewers just browsing from video to video that they are likely to stumble upon this attractive, desperate-for-attention, “girl”. After reading Carla’s brief synopsis, I immediately agreed with her that the major issue is transparency. However, after viewing the video, I thought the company was pretty forthright. Through out the video, there is a little blurb at the bottom streaming, “to learn more, visit“. The minute you go to to LG15 you can tell this is related to a young adult movement. On the LG15 Universe, one can find their goal front and center of the web page, “The Fountain of Youth is Real, We Fight to Defend Them”. In the end it seems LG15 was just utilizing the guerrilla marketing technique.

  5. Kate, you are correct but this did not happen until after LG15 had been discovered as a hoax.

    After the web show was found out, the people behind the show used it to create like insane action movie type of plotlines, which are completely different than the original “girl sitting on a bed, talking about her problems” show.

  6. I remember Dean Heider going over this in class. I believe is was MTV who wanted to make a television series out of this. I actually think they became semi-successful because they have a show, My Life As Liz, where a girl has “real-teen issues” and is a “social reject.”

    I agree with the third comment that most people weren’t heart broken over it being a hoax. Unfortunately, Youtube doesn’t have any regulations barring producers from using their website as a way of creating a character. It is a part of our drama-crazed world :).

  7. People love drama. People also love when they can relate to someone else’s drama, or in this case, lack thereof. Everyone got really into Lonely Girl because they related to her or liked her or thought she was cute or whatever. When she was exposed as a phonie, I don’t think anyone really cared. In my mind, everyone said “Aww man, wow, you really got us. Good character, though.”

    The public that watched her got totally duped, but isn’t that our own fault? When I was younger and would leave the house, my mom would always tell me that I shouldn’t trust anyone. Considering the amount of deception online, should we follow this rule when we get on the internet?

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