Truth or illusion: What's real on YouTube?

Last week, the Lonelygirl15 videos were indeed exposed as a hoax. The girl depicted was an aspiring actress named Jessica Rose. She subsequently discussed the videos on CNN, The Tonight Show and MTV — not bad exposure for a previous unknown. The creators of the video were revealed to be film professionals who describe their efforts as a “new art form”.

These filmmakers are misguided though — this isn’t art, it’s deception for profit. Misrepresenting commercials as independent user-generated content, actors as members of the public, and fiction as fact is not art, it’s advertising. The Lonelygirl15 videos were created for the explicit purpose of promoting a product, in this case the actress Jessica Rose. —Chris StevensTruth or illusion: What’s real on YouTube? (C|

I don’t have much to add, I’m just blogging this because it offers a good overview of the situation.

Update: I guess I do have something to add after all. Hypertext theory describes how literary criticism responds to the democratization of the writing process, whereby the audience and author essentially share the same tools, and the boundaries are blurred. While those theories were developed long before the blogosphere and wikis made any real impact in the democratization of electronic text, they really did a good job predicting the changes on the horizon.

We’re seeing more changes in the world of video, now that we’re seeing professional using their expertise to mimic the gritty realism of amateur productions (think Blair Witch Project).

I have been thinking lately of the importance of the internet-distributed “footage” that is pretty much the MacGuffin in William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. I taught that book in a literature survey course a few years ago, but very few students could get into it. I wonder if I should try that book again, with upper-level students, now that the online culture of dissecting and analyzing bits of video is part of mainstream culture instead of part of science fiction.