Video: the bizarre stylings of Tay Zonday

Who is Tay Zonday? Who the heck knows. But in my eternal quest to bring you the Internet’s finest moments (among other things) I feel compelled to share with you this video of him singing his smash Web hit, Chocolate Rain, which as far as I can tell appears to be a cryptic song about racism set to an incredibly irritating and yet somehow catchy keyboard loop.

As with many things, from Lolcatz to the “All your base are belong to us” meme, the Chocolate Rain thing has been fueled by sites like, which exist purely to irritate the rest of the Internet in as many ways as possible. As for Tay, he’s got a weird kind of infantile geek thing going, like a cross between Michael Jackson and Urkel. And he makes weird faces. But for some reason, it has caught on — over 2 million people have watched the video.


The truth about lonelygirl15?

Although there have been several hints and rumours, which I have written about here and here — and which Virginia Heffernan at the New York Times and others at the L.A. Times, the Times of London and elsewhere have written about — the truth about who is behind the “lonelygirl15” videos on YouTube has remained elusive.

Is Bree just a regular teenager with religious parents who spends a lot of time in her room and fights with her boyfriend from time to time? Or is it a calculated viral marketing effort for a movie? The latest twist is a message purported to be from the creators of the lonelygirl15 phenomenon, who say that they are just filmmakers and artists who are trying to get people involved in their art.

But the letter — excerpted here at Danah Boyd’s blog Zephoria — is vague and generally short on details, and the website it was originally posted at appears to be down at the moment. All I get is a database error.

Here’s part of the letter:

Right now, the biggest mystery of Lonelygirl15 is “who is she?” We think this is an oversimplification. Lonelygirl15 is a reflection of everyone. She is no more real or fictitious than the portions of our personalities that we choose to show (or hide) when we interact with the people around us. Regardless, there are deeper mysteries buried within the plot, dialogue, and background of the Lonelygirl15 videos, and many of our tireless and dedicated fans have unearthed some of these.

Plenty of comment on the letter at lonelygirl forums, including this one. Some are disappointed that the mystery is over, some don’t believe it. As usual, Virginia Heffernan has the scoop (what the heck is she going to write about on her blog if the mystery is over?) And BusinessWeek media writer Jon Fine, who also got sucked into the lonelygirl15 vortex, says “It’s over, thank God.”

Lonelygirl15 — the plot thickens

As I have already confessed, I am inordinately fascinated (see previous posts here and here) with a YouTube webcam “artist” known as lonelygirl15 and the question of whether she is actually a home-schooled 15-year-old whose parents are religious missionaries of some kind, or whether the series of videos she has uploaded about her relationship with her parents and her boyfriend Daniel are an elaborate Blair Witch-style viral marketing campaign for something or other (Brian Flemming, a filmmaker who said he wasn’t involved, might not be telling the truth).

Luckily, New York Times writer Virginia Heffernan seems obsessed as well, and has devoted much of her blogging time to tracking down the various elements of the mystery. In her latest instalment, she looks at some of the evidence that has led skeptics to believe the whole lonelygirl15 business is a giant conspiracy — including the fact that several domains with lonelygirl15 in them (including a fan site) were registered before Bree put any of her videos up. There’s some more details in this L.A. Times story (reg. required).


Even more details and rumours to mull over, for those without a life: Virginia has a new post, in which she talks about the mysterious (possibly unintelligible) phone message she got, and has some links to a new discussion group about lonelygirl’s identity and purpose. Also links to an L.A. Times column, a Joystiq post about whether it’s part of an ARG (alternate reality game) and a typically erudite column at the Times (although Virginia gets points for using the word “hermeneutic”).

Lonelygirl15 mystery continues

Okay, I will admit up front that I have way too much time on my hands, and probably shouldn’t be as fascinated as I am with the real story behind some webcam clips by someone calling themselves “lonelygirl15” on YouTube — but at least I’m not the only one. Unbeknownst to me when I wrote my first post on it a little while ago, TV writer Virginia Heffernan at the New York Times was also following the tale of Bree and her boyfriend Daniel (see here and here and here, whose video clips are consistently among the most-viewed on YouTube (Business Week media writer Jon Fine has also been writing about it).

Her latest update delves into one of the popular theories about Bree, who from her videos appears to be the home-schooled daughter of religious — and possibly missionary — parents. The theory is that the clips are “viral” ads for some kind of forthcoming movie or other production, although there are just as many who believe Bree (who has had an email conversation with Ms. Heffernan at the Times) is a real person. The NYT blogger’s latest post refers to one of the proponents of the “Bree is fake” theory, a filmmaker named Brian Flemming who has written extensively about it on his own blog, and raises the possibility of an interesting twist: that he could actually be the one behind what he is debunking (he says he isn’t).

Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice in Wonderland said. Is Bree a more elaborate version of a kind of Blair Witch web campaign? Perhaps. Does it really matter if she is real? Probably not. But I find myself fascinated nevertheless. If nothing else, I find it interesting how quickly people — even regular, non-media people — jumped to the conclusion that it was fake.


In other YouTube mystery-related news, the New York Times has a piece about “FunTwo” — the Asian guitar wizard who plays an incredible version of Pachelbel’s Canon on the electric guitar. Virginia Heffernan revealed his identity on her blog earlier this month.