Ashley Kronebusch, Staff Writer
“Hi guys, it’s Daisy Brown. I’m just talking to the camera and I’m going to show you guys how I feed Alan.”
Since it was published in July of 2017, this video of Daisy Brown (a fictional character created by Augsburg student Julia Dapper) feeding her monster, Alan, has reached over 2.5 million views and over 30,000 comments. Dapper’s channel, titled Daisy Brown, has almost 150 thousand subscribers and amassed over 11.6 million views. However unlike most YouTube channels, Daisy told a complete, fictional story with over 35 videos from 2017-2018, detailing her struggles to take care of Alan and uncover the mystery of her absent father. Videos that analyze Daisy’s story have gained millions of views as communities on the internet gather to form their theories. And Dapper did all of this while attending school full time.
“I wanted to experiment with and explore storytelling as a medium,” expressed Dapper in an interview. “I played around with subtitles and closed captioning and messed around on Twitter and stuff … The story itself is inspired by a lot of my own feelings and experiences where I wanted to be able to explore them in an abstract kind of way.”
My first piece of advice to anyone watching Daisy Brown is to remember to put on the subtitles. The messages deepen the story, as well as heighten the intrigue. Dapper was also active on social media as her character during the project, which has caused many people to call it an alternate reality game (or ARG), a type of multimedia storytelling that depends on audience engagement through the real world.
“When I think of ARG, I tend to think of like, codes, and you have to solve this mystery,” Dapper explains. “Mine isn’t so much that. I call it a webseries where it’s more of a story that the audience can interact with but it’s not so much about solving something.”
The series is hardly an easy watch, carefully cultivating its surreal and uncomfortable atmosphere. Dapper says that the genre is magical realism and that she wants the audience to understand that it does not take place in our world. Although there are a lot of surface-level similarities, the sense of unease grows through the videos as it becomes apparent how unhealthy Daisy’s warped view of reality is.
Dapper says that the experience was rewarding in the end. “I took away from it mostly that the story of Daisy Brown is a story that a lot of people really wanted to hear, because when it ended, I just remember getting messages on Instagram of people expressing that it really reminded them of their own life…This is the type of story people have been really wanting and needing.”
Although Daisy Brown is now over a year old, Dapper’s artistic career is far from over. “I took away from it that I want to keep making art, that I want to keep experimenting and seeing what boundaries to push and which I’m really comfortable in.”
Dapper is currently working on a new ARG, Echo Rose, which is written by fellow Auggie Lela Nesheim.
This article was originally published in the September 27, 2019 issue.