Gene vs. Pixel

Strong Blonde

What is it about avatars that make them so addictive, and such a pleasure for us to shape, to consume products for, to create so that they are evocative and edgy and sexy and seductive and aesthetically appealing? As we mold our post-modern bodies with a guilty pleasure, embracing the contrasts of fantasy over reality and disrupt the normal with the imagined? In Baudrillard’s terms, if the avatar is a referrent, a digitally generated image which is pure representation – why do our avatars reference the hypersexualised, the hyperreal, the glossy magazine models with perfect flawless shiny white skin? The coded information in my avatar is read… how?

Perversely, I read my avatar as being subversive. I see it as subverting the reality of an aging sagging body and experimenting with how I am treated, and how people communicate with me across my social spheres. It’s a gender experiment for me that I find fun, playful, and liberating on the one hand, yet difficult to come to terms with on the other hand because the reality is sometimes the post-modern Barbie gets a whole lot more attention that the real and flawed flesh and bones woman. Other times “she” is discriminated against because she is “too” something or another – too beautiful, too sexy, too intimidating, too fashionable.

I’ve been writing about avatars for 10 years now!!!! But still these issues intrigue me every time I speak at a conference and experience a whole range of complex questions from the audience about identity, sexuality, feminism, commodification, representation and hyperreality.

Now, shall I go blonde, or stick with brunette?

Anya

3 thoughts on “Gene vs. Pixel

  1. Mm, I have an alt that is blond, and the main that is black-headed like myself. I’m not sure why I made the distinction; I guess I like to think that hair shapes identity.

    Speaking of which, are my chances of getting a job out of grad school reduced if I shave my head?

  2. I prefer the brunette!

    But regarding your ongoing thoughts re the avatar, I think there are always bits and bobs in our research that recurrently arise to the surface for us to keep thinking about, to keep questioning and thinking through from all angles.
    I have stuff like that and when I write about them, it seems I am repeating myself – but I am basically not, I am muzzing over an issue and not quite feeling I can move on.

  3. “musing over your avatar” is one way of looking at things as well. One (out of many) reason I don’t have a 6pack like Brad Pitt or look like Sean Connery is because its just too much work and expense …. But there are times when my twitter avatar changes, depending on my mood, location etc at a particular time. because it is SO easy to do.

    Anyway, why do you have be blonde or brunnette ? personally, I don’t mind playing identity games in the non-physical world – contrary to opinion, I think you need a strong and conistent identity and set fo rules to do this (for example, a fixed name and Avatar for each identity, even if the identity turns out to be disposable). I LIKE the fact that I get a different reaction to different ‘masks’ or avatars.

    Of course, some people may get offended when an Avatar styled after stereotype A, gets treated as such while Avatar B gets treated differently – Even tho its the same fingers behind the keyboard. The real life corollary is that rsearch show better looking people get treated better. I would be very suprised if the same did not apply with Aatars – with of course the caveat that ‘better looking’ is subject to the group / sub group rules.

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