As is the nature of true crime entertainment, once a podcast or show is finished is when the real questions and loose threads start being pulled. Viewers of Netflix’s latest offering, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, are currently doing just that.
The series tracks the disappearance, death and subsequent investigation into the fate of Elisa Lam. We have a more detailed primer here, for those who want to know what they’re getting in to, by many who’ve watched the series cam away with one question: how did Elisa Lam’s Tumblr keep updating after her death?
The series makes heavy use of Lam’s Tumblr. Titled nouvelle-nouveau and still very much live on the internet, Crime Scene employed an actor to read Lam’s Tumblr posts as a voiceover.
“[Elisa’s] story is an integral part of the Cecil Hotel’s history,” said Crime Scene’s director Joe Berlinger in an interview. “I didn’t want to invent dialogue or create speculative situations, so everything she says via voiceover in the show comes directly from her online posts.”
Despite the good intentions, it has come across as perhaps less than sensitive. One reviewer called the move “a further intrusion on a private grief, that has already been blundered into by an army of web-sleuths.” For those yet to watch the four-part docuseries, Lam’s Tumblr kept updating into December 2013, well after her death in February of that year.
How did Elisa Lam’s Tumblr keep updating?
Veteran Tumblr users believe the answer lies in the social media platform’s queue function. People have long been able to bank a number of posts up in a queue for them to auto-publish at a later date, and it appears Lam was using this function.
That said, other internet pundits don’t believe that’s the full picture, “Posts were made for ten more months, randomly skipping May and then July – November, then back in December,” wrote one Reddit user. “You think she set a post queue almost a YEAR in advance, with no rhyme or reason? It’s not like she uploaded weekly.”
It’s unlikely we’ll ever have clear answer, but the haunting Tumblr remains live regardless.
You can watch Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel now on Netflix.