AKA The Children of Anchor Cove

Warning: Spoilers

YouTube has given birth to what some refer to as either an irritating viral marketing campaign or a new art form. In either case, lonelygirl15 has taken the Internet by storm with her mysterious story line and innocent appearance. Her videos have seen hundreds of thousands of views and her channel has received several honors, including most discussed and most viewed.

The Storyline So Far

In lonelygirl15's first video blog (vlog), titled First Post/Dorkiness Prevails, a pretty girl sits in front of her camera in an immaculately clean room and hugs her knee as she tells the YouTube world that her name is Bree, she's sixteen and is homeschooled. The video's editing is nearly as immaculate as the bed behind her.

Subsequent videos introduce us to Daniel, Bree's best friend who has a secret crush on her. She discusses her homeschooling, Daniel's help with her editing (explaining the quality of the edited videos) and shares some interesting facts from her studies.

As Bree makes more posts, she alludes to her family having "certain beliefs" that interfere with her having a normal teenager's social life. She mentions that her viewers wouldn't understand her religion, so she doesn't want to share her beliefs. However, observant viewers notice a shrine in her bedroom and link the picture above it to a well-known portrait of Aleister Crowley. This photo, combined with Bree's reluctance to discuss her religion, sends viewers on a quest to discover what her family believes.

Meanwhile, Bree shares more information about her relationship with Daniel, now dubbed Danielbeast. Eventually, Daniel admits to Bree that he likes her. Bree posts a video discussing Daniel's confession, only to see Daniel spring up with a video in response. Drama ensues, ending in a phone call, which is taped by Bree's webcam.

The videos continue to display the same quality editing except on posts Bree has edited herself. Bree and Daniel create a few videos with the catchphrase, "Proving Science Wrong."

More drama emerges when Bree's dad has a talk with Daniel. The conversation is kept secret despite Bree's attempts to learn the truth. Finally, Daniel posts a video of his own, sharing with everyone that the conversation consisted of a request from Bree's father to record a play at her church camp. This time the drama ends when Daniel shows up for the play to Bree's surprise.

During a swimming video, Bree mentions a girl named Cassie, with whom Daniel went to school. Daniel acts like he doesn't recognize the name. Another video shows Purple Monkey holding up scoring cards in response to the testing of cookie recipes. The scores are 10, 12 and 06. Once again, industrious viewers recognize the date format and interpret this as an indication that something would be happening on 10/12/06.

Eventually, Bree shares that she has been chosen to participate in a rare ceremony for her religion. It is so exclusive that even her parents won't be able to attend. To prepare, she must memorize her role and go on a diet.

Later videos present the innocent and normally obedient Bree rebelling by sneaking out of her room to go to parties or to meet Daniel in the park. Following her first attempt at sneaking out of the house, she is caught and grounded. Despite the punishment, she continues to sneak out. Her relationship with Daniel grows and at one point, she gets her first kiss from him. Bree eventually chooses to attend a fall equinox ceremony for her religion over a dinner with Daniel and decides that Daniel is bad for her.

The most recent videos show Daniel following Bree to a wooded area where he tapes her practicing for her ceremony with a blonde woman. Bree indicates that the woman is her helper and will be with her during the ceremony.

The Investigation

Suspicians grew due to the perfect lighting, Bree's charm, the quality editing and the presence of clues in the videos. A sting performed by three viewers revealed that Bree's emails were coming from Beverly Hills talent agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Although other talent agencies expressly denied being behind the videos, Michael Mand of CAA stated that he could neither confirm nor deny the firm's involvement in the videos.

In addition to the revelation that emails were coming from a talent agency, it was discovered that the domain name, lonelygirl15.com, had been purchased prior to the introduction of the first video.

Suspicians were confirmed by a post from "The Creators" on the forum linked to the lonelygirl.com website. The message stated that the videos were part of an experimental show and thanked the viewers for their support.

Fan Reactions

For some who watched the lonelygirl15 videos from the start, the revelation that the story was fiction was devastating. Several vloggers posted videos showing a wide range of emotions in response to the events. Still others refused to believe that the videos were not factual. Some viewers felt the need to post repeated text comments to new videos informing all believers that the videos were "fake."

Despite the outcry from angry viewers, several loyal viewers remained. Additionally, parodies were created and at least one independant character sprang from the announcement that lonelygirl15 was a work of fiction. Other viewers stumbled across the videos after the truth was revealed. Without the burden of knowing they'd been fooled, these viewers were able to spot the clues that the videos were not genuine, marvel at the marketing possibilities and enjoy playing the game presented by the videos.

Viewer comments

Response to the news that lonelygirl15 is fictional has been very diverse. Following are some comments from her various YouTube fans.

Ya know what? If this whole thing is fake, maybe it isn't a movie or TV thing. Maybe, it's kind of a promotion or introduction or recruitment for the Thelema Magic religion? jinitron
onelygirl15 (sic) is a fictional vlog that came to international attention via YouTube, being played by New Zealand actress Jessica Rose. The series was created by Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and film-maker from Marin County, California, and Miles Beckett, a surgical residency dropout-turned-film-maker. The series was developed under the working title The Children of Anchor Cove lovecantos
This just in the creators have posted a note on your forum. You are fake, now we know this for sure and you will no longer waste peoples time!nordsven

YouTube (2006), lonelygirl15, Retrieved September 29, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=lonelygirl15
lonelygirl15, a tribute (2006), Videos, Retrieved September 29, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://lonelygirl15.com/?p=71
Skeptic's Annotated Bible (2006), Daniel 6, Retrieved September 29, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/dan/6.html
Sternberg, A. (2006) Hey There, Lonelygirl, NY Mag. Retrieved September 30, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://nymag.com/arts/tv/features/19376/index.html
Rushfield, R. (2006) On the Trail of Lonelygirl15, LA Times, Retrieved September 30, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-lonelygirl1sep01,0,2098723.htmlstory?coll=la-home-entertainment