Lil Miquela: From Illuminati Sex Doll to Robot Pop Star - An analysis on the simulation of female microcelebrities in the CGI Influencer Phenomenon through cyber feminist notions of the Cyborg Body using the case of Miquela Sousa
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Miquela Sousa (@lilmiquela on Instagram) is the first-ever computer-generated social media influencer who describes herself as a Brazilian-Spanish inclusive “change-seeking robot” and who also advocates social equality, particularly the #BlackLivesMatter movement, trans women rights, and equal pay for women. Although Miquela presents herself this way, she is an “influencer” whose true purpose is to bring business to her creators. In this paper, I explore the CGI influencer phenomenon and provide an understanding of how it impacts gender discourse by using theories on microcelebrity practice, media-fabricated simulations, and notions of the cyborg body. I argue that Miquela is not just a form of female representation, but also a simulation whose goal is to perpetuate the objectification and commodification of the female body through microcelebrity practice. Additionally, I also argue that in this process of simulating Miquela, her producers are exhibiting symptoms of the cyborg body by controlling the female body and constructing femininity, and normalizing and industrializing this process. I support my arguments by using James Paul Gee’s applied discourse analysis and his Tools of Inquiry for Building Tasks to analyze Miquela’s discourse about her brand, her coming out story, and her appearance and her purpose in the Zang Zach Show interview in December 2019.