Ogrish Retrospective Part 4: Enter LiveLeak

In the final part of this retrospective of the shock site Ogrish, we look at its sudden end and its replacement by LiveLeak, which all happened on the same day. 

The design overhaul of Ogrish from the nihilism and gothic adornments of its ‘Can you handle life’ guise to its repositioning as an alternative news service under the banner ‘Uncovering Reality’ was greeted with little enthusiasm by the Ogrish community, who regarded its deliberately neutral appearance as mediocre and lacking the carnivalesque frisson of its cyber penny dreadful era. However, if the context the picture galleries and video clips were archived in had changed, the content remained the same. This was soon to change, as barely ten months after Ogrish.com declared itself respectable, in October 2006 Ogrish Forum users logged in to be met by an announcement, with the most pertinent sections reproduced below:

An Important Announcement To All Members.

Dear Members,

There are some massive changes imminent for Ogrish.com that you should all be aware of. For some time now Ogrish has been a huge site, running on several dedicated servers, and eating terabytes of bandwidth each and every month. A realisation dawned that Ogrish had indeed hit a ceiling of sorts. Our past also played a part in our inability to grow further and realise our ideal. So, whilst other sites often put alongside us have been showing a downward trend we managed to stay level. But growth was virtually impossible despite some fantastic press. Basically we could stay the same and then suffer the inevitable downturn or we could find a solution. Finally a solution presented itself by which we could take what was Ogrish.com to a higher level by being incorporated by open minded people with good resources in terms of hardware, knowledge and backup. Thank you for everything. We appreciate you guys more than you might realise.

The Ogrish Team.

Despite assurances the Ogrish Forum would endure and that the ‘incorporation’ hinted was merely taking the site to ‘a higher level’, there was outrage expressed within the Forum that Ogrish had sold out, a suspicion that was validated by anyone caring to access Ogrish.com on the 31st October 2008 who were redirected to LiveLeak.com and met with the following message:

Dear Ogrish Viewer, Welcome to LiveLeak.com. Ogrish.com has been incorporated into LiveLeak to ensure you get all the uncensored media you are used to along with so much more. Feel free to sign up, comment, and upload media. If you are a member of the Ogrish.com forum you can sign into LiveLeak using your forum username and password or make an entirely new account. Thanks.

(Taken from statement posted at Ogrish.com on the 31st October 2006)

In the wake of the takeover, the LiveLeak message boards were filled with negative comments regarding the site for a number of reasons. Firstly, the layout was regarded as mundane and anonymous and lacked a ‘voice’, with no forum or news area for staff and the webmaster to speak as there had been at Ogrish to foster the ‘community’ feeling of the site. 

There was resentment amongst the Ogrish fan base that the site not only refused to deign and explain why the ‘merger’ between Ogrish and LiveLeak actually happened but also a reluctance to recognise or mention the existence of the erstwhile death site.  All attempts to name-check Ogrish at LiveLeak were removed, increasing the resentment of Ogrish fans. Indeed, one had to look at the Ogrish Forum itself and message board’s online dealing with subcultural topics to glean how Ogrish fans felt about its vanishing.  Finally, despite protestations from LiveLeak staffers to the contrary in the Ogrish Forum, it was apparent that, excuses regarding graphic filters aside, many of the most extreme clips available at Ogrish.com were simply not available at LiveLeak, with one theory aired by a forum member being that it wished to avoid being surreptitiously barred from search engines like Google in order not to deter potential advertisers and therefore increase potential revenue for the site. 

In hindsight, and despite the plethora of conspiracy theories expressed at the message boards linked above, the most likely explanation for the expiration of Ogrish.com was the financial strain of running it and weariness on the part of its notoriously reclusive webmaster and staff, though the puzzling refusal of LiveLeak to acknowledge the former merely helped the theories proliferate. 

 

No Decorum.  Happier times at the Ogrish forum with a seasonal beheading compilation Halloween 2007.
 

However, the disappearance of Ogrish.com helped galvanise the Ogrish Forum and accentuate the sense of community within, as previously reticent members started new message threads to both lament the site’s passing and to request clips either not available at LiveLeak or difficult to access due to the latter’s arcane system of graphic filters. Members forwarded each other personally archived clips through internal e-mail accounts or uploaded them to video share sites like Flurl and posted the links to them, which illustrated the strength of peer-to-peer networks online and their efficacy at virally disseminating visual images in the form of data files. As a coda, below is an extract from a sub-cultural message board of an exchange that took place in the immediate aftermath of the advent of LiveLeak that both expresses the appeal of Ogrish and the less than enthusiastic welcome afforded to its successor: 

Ogrish is no more. At least it’s no longer available as it once was. Ogrish has now become LiveLeak. An announcement on the Ogrish forum said that the new site will focus on user-generated content (a lá YouTube) but would still retain the same content that used to feature on the old Ogrish. Will Ogrish content remain a part of the new site? Will it be consumed by LiveLeak in favour of the more entertaining videos found on the dozens of other video sites? Is the purpose of the change to cash in like YouTube did? Whilst I wasn’t a regular visitor of Ogrish I think this is a bad move.

Posted by Robert Gale

Ogrish has gone the way of PG-13. It will soon look like myspace.

Posted by: Teddyray  

Ogrish was great. LiveLeak doesn’t seem to have as much gore. Don’t like it – bring back Ogrish!!!

Posted by: Yvonne 

god damn live leak. i wonder if Ogrish got bought out or some shit. It was my very favorite site and i wish someone would continue where Ogrish left off. the best part about Ogrish was that it wasn’t full of stupid fuckin ads like those on consumptionjunction.com, and wasn’t anyway about porn. just death!!
BRING BACK THE DEATH!!!!!

Posted by: Ilovebeaheadings 

 
Liveleak.com – Woman Cleaning an Anaconda
 

What is interesting from this exchange is that it is not just the lack of ‘gore’ available at LiveLeak that rendered it unpopular but also its design layout. While Ogrish traditionalists felt the site fully recovered from its repositioning as a respectable layout, it still retained the appearance of an online magazine, with editorials and occasional dialogues between staff and users that created a discursive online community. The picture and clip archives were easy to access, exhaustive and arranged in sub-generic categories. There was an explicitly stated rationale behind both of Ogrish’s incarnations, a sense of identity, and an editorial voice which for many of the site users was perceived to be missing from LiveLeak’s less distinctive layout. It is discernible that a large part of Ogrish’s popularity was in the gothic imagery that accompanied its archives and the context they were presented in; despite the porn links and pop-ups, there was a ‘purity’ about the site. Or, as the poster Ilovebeaheadings laments above, it was just death.

 
 

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