Canned reality on the Internet

Canned reality on the Internet

The latest trend on YouTube and other Internet fad sites is for companies to post surreptious ads for their products or services in the guise of regular people doing regular things. So, for example, CourtTV set up a blog for a fictitious woman who catches her husband cheating for a show on private eyes hired by jilted spouses.

Or in the latest example, Creative Artists Agency, a Beverly Hills-based talent agency, has created a fictitious homeschooled teenager of a religious family who is posting YouTube diaries on the sly. It’s the same old Hollywood caricature of a middle American families—repressed, angry parents (who happen to let their deughter have an unsupervised Net connection in her bedroom?); rebellious free-spirited but good-natured daughter like a canary in a cage; strong, well-meaning boyfriend who wants to help her escape the restrictions and experience “real life.” It’s all a little too canned. (Here’s “LonelyGirl15’s” YouTube page and a blog post that discusses this and similar phenomena.

First, who fell for this? The videos themselves give it away. The lighting is too bright, the video edits too precise, the lines too canned. Even the video compression is too good. Compare it to real homemade videos posted on YouTube. Not even close.

Apart from the business ethics and the questions regarding “reality Internet”, there is the problem of how how this once again slanders homeschoolers. Yep, they’re raising a generation of socially awkward kids who can’t relate to the outside world and will rebel at the first chance. Puh-leeze. And for what? Creative Artists isn’t saying, but it’s probably either to flack somebody’s pilot script or it’s a kind of public audition for the two kids in the videos. Either way, it’s lame… and unfortunately the public laps it up.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli