An online fiction with a life of its own.
We’ve written before, and as believers, that a future of narrative involves transmedia: the tactical use of multiple media to build and spread a many-faceted story, or to sketch a fictional world. Transmedia, at its best, promises to punch through the screen, tear up the page, and engage audiences in a fluid, immersive experience somewhere between traditional story-telling and alternate-reality gaming.
With a few notable exceptions, transmedia is as much media-geek theory object as it is template for successful fictionalising — but it’s a hot topic getting hotter by the day. This week’s case study is the story of YouTube star-in-the-making LonelyGirl15, whose transmedial existence is described in loving detail by New York magazine. Word on the Internet is that her site is set up to promote a film. Or not. Whatever. The sign’o’the times is the degree to which the fantasy has been bought into and built on by others online:
Ironically, her most prominent critic—a YouTuber named Gohepcat, a film-geek hipster in mirrored sunglasses and a cowboy hat—has become a mini–YouTube star in his own right. And because anyone on YouTube can post responses or theories about Lonelygirl (and plenty have), her story now has its own metastasizing, David Lynch–worthy cast: Not just Lonelygirl, Daniel, and their monkey puppet (don’t ask), but the Javert-like Mirrored Cowboy; her defender, Nerd With the Headset; a nemesis called Lazydork; and Richard Feynman. (Yes, Richard Feynman, the famous physicist. He doesn’t appear personally—it’s a long story.)
There’s always been a section of the fan community willing to dive into co-creation, but post-Reality-TV, post clip culture, everyone wants their 15 click-throughs of fame. LonelyGirl15 is just the kind of cultural attractor to encourage them on their way.
If you haven’t read Convergence Culture yet, now’s a good time to get it on order: the wave of transmedia is still gathering speed, and when it hits the mainstream, it’s going to hit hard.
[Thanks to Andrew for the tip-off].
UPDATE: The LA Times has an interview with the LonelyGirl15 film-makers. In a nutshell, like the charming ‘How to be a chav’ Film, the work is the creation of aspiring film-makers:
“We did this with zero resources. Anybody could do what we did,” Flinders said Tuesday. The sum total of the equipment they used to create a sensation on the Internet, as well as perhaps the web’s biggest homegrown mystery: “Two desk lamps (one broken), an open window and a $130 camera.”
Goodfried said Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills got involved about a month ago — well into the lonelygirl15 story — through a friend who works at the agency. “We went in there one afternoon. I walked around the place, and met some cool young guys that got the idea and said they would help us,” he said.