Digital Fantasies

Between Lisa Nakamura’s Digitizing Race, Tanner Higgin’s “Blackless Fantasy: The Disappearance of Race in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games”, and Seth Perlow’s “On Production fr Digital Culture: iPhone Girl, Electronics Assembly, and the Material Forms of Aspiration”, themes of “fantasy” are strikingly consistent. Digital culture lends a hand in the development of visual culture. Using images as representation, human bodies have been used to live out fantasies both sexual and non-sexual. The ability that digital and visual culture gives is one that the physical world may not be able to fulfill. The readings by Nakamura and Perlow explain how the Asian female body is fantasizes and Higgin’s work explores the fantasy of the black (African American) human body.

Perlow mentions the production assembly line in accordance with the Asian female body. He writes, “The production line’s ‘microphysics of power over the Chinese female body’ may thus become, in digital fantasies, an eroticized form of bondage and discipline” (261). iPhone girl serves as an example of the way digital culture evokes fantasies of the human body. Perlow continues, “Gender provides a site for binding racist discourse together with other systems of meaning for Asian labor. As Nakamura notes, online ‘performances of Asian female personae . . .  are doubly repressive’ because they create synergy between racist and misogynistic discourses” (261).

The ability to engage in virtual worlds (especially during video games) or via images on a computer or television screen creates a sense of play. “In digital culture, the Asian female body acts as a vessel for fantasies of sexual pleasure, submissiveness, adventure, and physical prowess, to name a few” (Perlow 248). Similarly, with playing video games where the characters that are being played are African American males from urban cities, the chance to embody or “role-play” these characters becomes a fantasy as well. These games and images serve as fantastical images and functions. Higgin writes, “These games, although masquerading as progressively engaged through a strategy of colorblindness, function as hegemonic fantasy by filtering the racial imagery that threatens the safety and political coherence of White dominance” (6). What does this then say about the way we recreate our world? What does this say about the physical world that we live in? How are these fantasies reflective of our digital and visual culture?

Higgin, Tanner. “Blackless Fantasy: The Disappearance of Race in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games.” Games and Culture 4.1 (2009): 3–26. Print,

Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet. Vol. 23. U of Minnesota Press, 2008. Print.

Zhang, Lin, and Anthony YH Fung. “Working as Playing? Consumer Labor, Guild and the Secondary Industry of Online Gaming in China.” New Media & Society (2013): Print.

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