The shift to influencer content traces a similar pattern, which Brud’s deployment of avatars consolidates and threatens to extend, closing off the alternatives beyond dichotomies that avatars might otherwise enable. For example, Katherine Angel Cross, in “The New Laboratory of Dreams: Role-Playing Games as Resistance”, describes using a World of Warcraft avatar to explore her identity as a transgender woman in a way that did not require body modification. Brud’s Miquela, by contrast, uses avataristic form, references to progressive politics, and an ethnically ambiguous appearance as veneers for a marketing approach that seeks to colonize more of the space of communication.

For all of Miquela’s talk about human-robot cooperation and the post-identity politics that seems to evoke, her conventionally attractive appearance and heteronormative behavior reinforce dualistic conceptions of male and female. Bermuda’s presence similarly reinscribes politics as a simplistic right-left binary. Such prescriptive models, whether it’s Facebook’s requisite identity boxes or the fantasized bodies that Miku and Miquela represent, inhibit any of us from moving beyond the categorical. Their avatars’ digital selves, connoting hybridity and fluidity, reinforce rigidity.

It Girls: Marketing entities like Miquela undermine the radical potential of avatars - Kerry Doran

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