With the public encouraged to #stayathome during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is even greater potential for consumers to engage with CGI influencers, who have been able to remain marketable despite the pandemic. Now stuck inside, there’s less opportunity for human influencers to post the idealized images so much of their success seems to depend on, giving CGI influencers the reins to create their own environments through relatable quarantine-style content. This begs the question: Will we get to a point in which CGI influencers are deemed more valuable to brands than humans?
Are there hidden dangers behind the CGI-verse interacting with reality? Shudu embraces her identity as a Black South African woman through her captions and traditional clothing—but her creator is a white British man, Cameron James-Wilson, who’s possibly fetishizing the idea of an African woman. The virtual model has been portrayed nude, and donning traditional African garments, all the while being voiceless—drawing the side-eye from those who say that her portrayal points to the dangers of racial projections, especially since a Black, South African woman was not part of her inception.
In a similar vein, Lil Miquela’s Brazilian-American identity has been a topic of conversation revolving immigration laws. Lil Miquela is, of course, unsilenced, just check her IG post captions—or her Twitter. Last December, singer Kehlani called Lil Miquela out on the platform for her commentary on sexual harassment. Others have commended her activism, but it seems that her “wokeness” is yet another ploy for social engagement—with implications that reach beyond her CGI world. Is Lil Miquela cashing in on her vague calls for racial equality by partnering with numerous brands?