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Mark Allen
Director , Screenwriter , Composer
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The Truth About MRirian magibon

This blog is a follow up to my minimalist last blog about Obscurity.

This blog is about losing one's obscurity.  It's about marketing in a case-study of magibon.

As many of you know, I don't have a TV.  I do, however, explore YouTube now and then.  I remember when the invention of the macintosh suddenly made everyone a desktop publisher and the technology now has suddenly made everyone a video producer and while I find it sort of intersting to see what various people are doing, I find it more intresting to monitor what the audience watches.

Now, no one is going to give me a nobel prize for acknoledging that young+attractive+female = audience. 

In the early days of youtube the dancing girl videos were hands down the biggest attention grabers (that plus the pirated TV shows which was what brought me and most people probably to YouTube to begin with to see "that thing" that happened which someone uploaded already.  Clever of them, eh?)

This is not new, in fact, the very first films in theaters and even kinetascopes had a lot of dancing girls in them too.

But, overtime - people want something more.

Brookers was a huge YouTube phenomenon early on primarily because most people always wondered what the kind of cute girl in high school was doing when she was at home and Brookers presented this very open yet odd view of it.  She was at her best when just being a herself.  Overtime, she never reinvented herself though (as I spoke about in earlier blogs) and the audience pretty much knew what she was doing at home and they look for something new.  I'm sure she still gets lots of hits - people like what they know, but this doesn't mean they crave it and marketing is about making people crave. 

There are many YouTube stars and the one I'm going to talk about right now is a girl who I spotted randomly on the "other people are watching scroll" a very long time ago and her video made me so curious I sent it to a few friends.

So... let's bulletpoint: What is magibon?

magibon is the name for YouTuber MRirian who posts reguarily and gets over a half a million or more views now routinely per video.  Soon she will certain be getting multimilion views per video.

What does she do? That's where it gets interesting... because she doesn't really do anything.  Often she just stares at the camera.  However, when she does speak, she speaks in a child-like voice in japanese.  Sometimes she plays video games.  Sometimes she alternates reading with eating HUGE pizzas.  She usually ends her videos flashing the peace sign pose.

Well, here, take a look for yourself:

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anB5SSsiolI&eurl

What do people say about her?

Well, in addition to the not surprisng sexual comments that are par for the course with youtube - some people get really upset with her because - something I've not mentioned... she isn't Japanese.  She's apparently caucasian.  Her account is registered to Japan, but she says she's in the US.  Some people say she's making fun of Japanese culture, some people say she is a Japanophile for which apparently there is a slightly derogative word "Waponese."

What is the truth?

Well - as far as I can tell - no one knows.  And if you've read many of my blogs, you'll know that I think that this kind of mystery is the key to drama and, therefore, this is a perfect example of drama with no plot.  It's a dramatic moment because it captures the audience's curiousity.   And that's why I bring it up at all.

Okay, but what really is the truth?

I did a little google and found that a long time ago MRirian used to frequent a BBS which focused mostly on all-things-japanese.  This would mean, that she is probably a fan of the language or culture, so she's not making fun of anyone most likely.  Her name on those forums is no longer the same, but you can figure out pretty easily who she is because while the main posts are a new name, the quoted posts are still MRirian.

MRirian signs up for YouTube 2 years ago.  

One year ago she posts her first video titled "Me doing nothing."  and in it, she does nothing.

In her second video she just makes faces.

In her third, she shows a card with some abstract names and she is just saying hello to people on a bulletin board.

Fourth video - she's doing nothing.

Fifth video she decides to actually make a "story" where she is watching a Kikoman ad,then she tries some, doesn't like it, and then lets Heinz Ketchup conquer the kikoman character.

Okay - I'm not going to run through all 44 videos - but I will make some observations.

1)  She looks older in her earlier videos than her later ones where she looks increasingly young.

2)  The first videos she's very definitely just showing herself.  Probably to a friend on a BBS.  Then, they don't believe her, so she shows a sign to prove that it is really her in her third.

3)  Remember that young+female+attractive = audience.  Suddenly, people start watching her videos.  She probably is surprised.  But something that happens when people start watching your videos is that you become a YouTube partner and you start making money off the videos.

Going forward, her videos start to become more and more "cutesie" - she looks more and more like a little girl (despite her profile saying she is 21.

What do I think?  I think whether she's 21 or 16 (or 24 as some claim) - I think she stumbled upon an audience and realized that she doesn't need to do anything except....

...here we go... 

...sustain the mystery.

As her hits have skyrocketed, she's put up more and more videos, more regularly.  In them, she plays up more and more of the "cute anime" character of magidon.  One commenter said "It's like kittens and puppies but with humans." 

I don't think it was her original intention, I think she got a response and started seeing where she could go with it.  A big give away video is where she is eating an ENORMOUS slice of pizza inter cut with her reading excerpts from a Japanese grammar book.  The comedy is in the size of the pizza which she is most definitely playing up to dwarf her own size for effect.

As an example of what I'm getting at where she discovered the interest of her audience - compare her first video of doing nothing with a much much later one:

First Video:

Video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=uDMCnpuZjEQ

A Year Later:

Video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=RVjZVxhrlVk Notice the choice of clothing, setting, and hair style in particular.

More clues can be found in the videos which she chose to favorite on her channel.  One is a fan video someone made of her looking like an anime character and another is a humorous video that a 40+ aged man created where he, in a dramatic form, postulates on why her videos might have appeal (beyond the obvious pedophilic pornographic postulations which I think is a little too simple and common an answer.)

So - perhaps Maggie is a 19 year old part time student, part time cashier at the local store or perhaps she's really 14, or perhaps she's a 23 year old post collegiate looking for a purpose in life - whatever the answer is... the truth is that she's stumbled upon the secret to marketing and drama... sustaining the mystery. 

However... when that mystery is unfolded... she will need to have presented another mystery if she wants to sustain her audience.  right now she has over a million hits a video.  She has an audience that major players in the industry would dream of - but it will all go away unless she twists the mystery at some point... time will tell that story.

Why do people hate her?

Outside of the lude comments - she gets a lot of angry YouTuber comments because she gets so many hits.  People sit back and wax philosophic on their vlogs about her and why she gets so many hits and they get none.  The irony is that these people just need to observe reality to have the answer to their question.  Why do they not get the same number of hits?  They're just sitting there talking and putting it all on the table. 

Sometimes the thing that you need to offer people is something unrecognizable.

Invariably people will say - "All you have to be is young and cute to get viewers."

Numa Numa. 

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60og9gwKh1o

9 million views for that upload alone.   'nuff said.

There are so many examples of break out videos which had nothing to do with the young+attractive+female formula - but all of them had to do with creating something unrecognizable.

So, instead of hating her for figuring out how to create a mystery - these people might want to figure out what they can really offer. 

final thoughts

The thing that separates a great actor from a standard actor is the ability to open up themselves and share a bit of their humanity with the audience.  The audience feels that connection.  it's not easy to do and the doing of it comes with no safety net.  But when someone gets in sync with something true about themselves, magic happens whether you're young, cute, and female or not.

Whether someone is an actor, a musician, a director, a personality, or whatever - the first question one should ask themselves when they can't get an audience is "What am I hiding?"

A contradiction... didn't I just make a huge point about that mystery was key and now I'm saying you can't hide anything?

Different things.

Reveal your humanity - but hide your story.

almost 14 years ago 0 likes  23 comments  0 shares
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Was the post too tangential for you, Kevu?
almost 14 years ago
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Yes, JoanneSanderson - it's remarkable how mean spirited people become with the power of anonymity.
almost 14 years ago
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Wendy - I'll have to check out Tobin's comments, didn't realize he'd talked about her. I thought about mentioning her months ago but until I wrote the blog about mystery I didn't really know what my angle was. About Brookers - note I said "kind of cute" - but I do agree with your assessment it's the unexpected anticts that are interesting. She's a bit of a troublemaker.... I do think, though, that her novelty has worn off. thanks gilgamesh.
almost 14 years ago
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Jaine - yes, I saw the Tobin video... seemed kind of unnecessarily violent... sort of supports the notion that people have a negative reaction to her. To answer your question - yes, I analyze things because that's exactly what my job is as a director and a writer. Someone who invents machines is probably someone who used to disassemble their toys as a child and whenever something broke would be the first one to open it up and figure out how it works. I think I'm no different. I want to know how things work. You disassemble things in order to understand them and then you can assemble new things with a greater pool of knowledge. That said, I think you do experience things as an audience member first still. Just like you use the dishwasher before it breaks and you take it appart. I definitely watched the magibon videos as a curious, perhaps, confused, audience member before I started disassembling them to see how they worked.
almost 14 years ago
Ianpowers 0f ianpowers
Wow. you just articulated several points hat i have been trying to manuever through in my own career. very insightful. as a fledgling and as an actor these are exactly what i try to bring to my work. mystery and humanity. when I act I am continuosly trying to cut down my lines, not just so i have to speak less in a language not my own, but mainly to keep that air of mystery, to get the audience to a point where they have to actually watch me or the piece we are working on. and well put about showig humanity. an audience needs something to relate to. so all mystery can get boring. as you say the twists that need to be thrown in there, and now you have a stand out piece. of course this is a huge simplification of it all, but they are a few guidelines to check ourselves with. Great blog. the fan boy in me can't help but point out that this is exactly Han Solo is so much more of an attractive character than Luke Skywalker. He is flawed and human, and he is mysterious and full of sordid happenings in his past. where as luke is all out there, and develops into some sort of superhuman ideal man of virtue that so few achieve. the anime girl you pointed out in your blog is another great example, and yes beyond the fact that she is cute and attactive, and when she shows wider shots the lettering on her shirts wraps around the sides. ;-) there is a definite progression there though, or evolution of a character. I woud be interested thought to find out if she had just stumbled on to this as a fluke of trial and error, or if she had some plan or was even guided by someone with a psych degree. your other example with the little raving pudgy boy shows that unique idea at the right time. it just makes you happy to see. hmm, however i don't know if unrecognizable is the way to go, I mean the raving pudge gives me an image of john belushi or chris farley. even a little andy kaufman mixed in there. as a culture we pick up on these little subliminal memories and get attracted to what we see. and the anime girl gives us a definite image of, well, a girl in an anime, which is definetely hot cross culturally right now. but the mystery is there for sure. this subject surely needs deeper investigation, so I guess thanks for putting it so. I have been trying to find a way to say this for about a year now. I just had a similar experience and am trying to find ways to re-create it. I think you have given me a formulae to begin with. take care. by the way are you dircting that tv show in asia or the west? it is great to see a director that actually thinks about these things I look forward to seeing more of your work.
over 13 years ago

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english
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April 13, 2007