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Virtual pop: gender, ethnicity, and identity in virtual bands and vocaloid

Stark, Alicia 2018. Virtual pop: gender, ethnicity, and identity in virtual bands and vocaloid. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Virtual bands have been present in popular culture for decades, and they have become the topic of increased scholarly interest over the past few years. Despite this new work, however, there remains a need for more indepth critical studies into gender and ethnicity in virtual phenomena, as this approach promises to open up new areas of enquiry. Focussing on questions of gender and ethnicity, my thesis will investigate the mechanics through which identity is constructed in animated, puppet, and hologram virtual band characters. My thesis will draw on a range of empirical, theoretical, and ethnographic approaches in order to analyse how and to what extent virtual band characters are created and disseminated by those in the industry, on the one hand, and by fans, on the other. In particular, I consider this question through the concepts of agency (perceived and attributed), authorship, and authenticity, and in relation to the notion of suspension of disbelief, examining ways in which animation affords greater potential for forms of ‘layered awareness.’ Following a historical overview of virtual bands, and a critical appraisal of relevant theoretical perspectives on this topic, the thesis moves to a close reading of two case studies that reinforce and subvert gender and ethnic stereotypes commonly found in popular culture: Gorillaz and Vocaloid. These examples present different aspects of identity construction in virtual media, the former apparently led by the band’s creators, the other by its fans. Within Gorillaz, my discussion centres around the female guitarist Noodle, who, I will argue, is a modern-day Orientalist construction. By contrast, the chapters on Vocaloid draw on fan studies techniques to show that Vocaloid’s fan base contains a large, unexpected demographic, and that part of the fans’ dedication stems from their confirmed expectations of gender and ethnic identity in the Vocaloid characters.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Acceptance
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Uncontrolled Keywords: Popular Musicology, Musicology, Virtual Bands, Vocaloid, Identity Studies, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Orientalism, Virtuality, Hologram, Music Technology, Nostalgia
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 March 2018
Date of Acceptance: 21 March 2018
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2021 09:53

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