Let me in and I’ll get physical: Virtual bands, Vocaloids, and the Networked Self

So for my first official post, I thought I would share this short paper that I wrote for a class on New Media and Culture, taught by Dr. Paul Booth at DePaul University in Chicago, IL.  The paper looks at how virtual bands and vocaloid performers represent what Zizi Papacharissi refers to as the networked self, primarily because they highlight the fluidity of gender, the performative aspects of identity, and the flexible nature of reality itself, all of which are important factors in the conception of a networked self.  I would like to expand the paper, and in the process devote more time to the discussion of Hatsune Miku and other Vocaloid performers.  Additionally, I would like to bring in more scholarship on fan studies to back up some of the assumptions made in the paper (particularly the one about fans negotiating and renegotiating their identities through fannish activities).  Therefore, I feel like I could draw upon Henry Jenkins, Nicholle Lamerichs, Scott Duchesne, and/or Booth, and that this would lend more support to the argument overall.  Anyway, I’m looking for feedback on this one, so I would appreciate any and all comments people might have to offer. Also, because this paper is incomplete and not currently published in any journals, I would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact me for permission first. Thank you.


Abstract:  The rise of the Internet has led what Zizi Papacharissi (2013) refers to as a networked self.  According to Papacharissi people construct their identities in relation to information received from other individuals, particularly through the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  This concept could also be applied to virtual and digital characters, particularly those that become the focus of fandoms and fannish activities which impose a constructed identity upon these artificially created beings.  Virtual bands and Vocaloid performers embody the notion of the networked self, as they represent a confluence of concepts that are inherent to its conception.  These include the fluidity of identity, the performative aspects of gender, and the flexible nature of reality itself.  This paper will focus on the characters of Cherry, the lead singer of the virtual band Studio Killers, and Hatsune Miku, a Vocaloid performer developed by Crypton Future Media.  It will examine how both of these characters embody the idea of a networked self that results when fans engage in various fan activities that lead to the generation of a wholly constructed identity that is constantly being reevaluted through the act of negotiation and networking.

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