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27 Feb, 2020 16:20

The rise of digital erotic model Projekt Melody is a logical reaction to toxic feminism

The rise of digital erotic model Projekt Melody is a logical reaction to toxic feminism

Emma Gray Ellis of Wired thinks that the thousands of fans of digital camgirl Projekt Melody hate real women. No, they just hate the way that women like her treat them.

I didn’t imagine that in a time where more and more people feared automation one area where panic would set in would be sex work. But technology’s inexorable forward motion has given the world a digital camgirl. Projekt Melody can best be explained to the layman as a digital stripper in a digital stripclub of sorts. A person sets up a motion capture device and a pre-constructed 3D model mimics their movements. In this particular case, it is (likely) motion captured by a woman and is modeled as a provocative female character styled after Japanese anime or hentai (pornographic animation or illustration).

Since “her” inception, Projekt Melody has already carved out a small niche on the internet. She has over 70,000 followers on adult cam site Chaturbate, nearly 80,000 subscribers on “her” YouTube channel, and over 144,000 followers on Twitter. Though I’m curious as to how the verification process would work for a character like Melody, it’s nonetheless a sizable following. One that has apparently frustrated some real sex workers, who seem worried by the prospect of competing with the digital character.

In a response to this sudden sensation, Wired’s culture writer Emma Grey Ellis penned an op-ed presumptively titled “Do Fans of Cartoon Porn Stars Hate (Real) Women?” To be fair to the author, she takes a painstaking amount of time detailing the ins and outs not just of Projekt Melody and what makes it tick, but also elements of the culture that surround it.

Her conclusion is where I take issue. She ends up dismissing Melody’s popularity as a product of the “male gaze,” linking her to the “right wing” red flag along the way. It’s a stereotypical feminist hand-wave that absolves the person waving of anything beyond surface level thought, and authorizes intellectual dishonesty.

To be so dismissive of a phenomenon like this is a mark of lazy thinking. These sorts of things are not the products of a random command from an almighty Patriarchy™ meant to oppress women. Although Occam’s Razor states that plurality shouldn’t be posited without necessity, there is a necessity whenever you’re dealing with the 70,000+ people imbibing this content. The circumstances that led to Melody’s popularity did not happen in a vacuum, and Ellis’ dismissiveness is a perfect example of what leads to this – though the range of reasons is very broad. Some may indeed just find themselves entertained by the absurdity of the digital erotic content, but the possibility of a deeper trauma isn’t considered either. 

Ellis quotes the resentment of young men when it comes to comments about Melody, but doesn’t take a second to ask what made them so hostile in the first place. She assumes that these men (again assuming that only men find this content appealing) think they have a “right” to sex. For those who actually do the research, what you’ll find is that young men who imbibe this type of content aren’t the slobbering soon-to-be devils that the writer implies, but – at least a significant part of them – broken young men who suffer an internal trauma that they self-medicate through pornography like Melody. They want a disconnect from the world around them, and want to interact with something (or in this case a digital someone) that isn’t going to treat them like crap.

One possible target audience is people with sex addiction, classified by the World Health Organization as a mental illness, specifically an impulse control disorder. This places the addiction in line with substance abuse, and usually such addictions stem from prior trauma. Twelve step programs and sexual addiction therapy often focus on what that trauma is to get to the heart of the issue. For most Melody fans the problem doesn’t go quite that far, but the point is that people who take in this sort of content are not monsters. They’re people that have internal pain. 

This is why feminists will never understand why people would watch a “digital waifu” digitally disrobe for hours on end, let alone that it’s a consequence of their dismissive and “mean girl” attitude, among other things. What if women treating men like dogs might really cause those men to want to walk away from real life women? Nah, it must be the patriarchy talking.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.