Abstract

abstract:

In the history of science fiction feature cinema, the manufactured female body has long been treated as a blank canvas for spectacular visual effects, arguably beginning with Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927). Nearly a century later, fembot bodies tend to be computer generated rather than constructed on-set, but they have retained the role of a diegetic tech demo highlighting the latest advancements in visual effects research and design. Drawing on the persistent cultural notion of the female body as a site for simultaneously negotiating gender roles and technological progress, my article offers a close reading of cyborg, nonorganic, and biologically enhanced women and/as digital effects. I examine a range of feature films, including Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2014), Ghost in the Shell (Rupert Sanders, 2017), Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017), and Alita: Battle Angel (Robert Rodriguez, 2019). I argue that such media texts cast sexualized digital Galateas to affirm (digital animation) technology's capacity to fulfill white male heteronormative fantasies. At the same time, depictions of the computer-generated female body as a sexual object aim to compensate for the digital effect's artificiality. Both within the narrative and in paratextual discourse, tying technological progress to male sexual wish fulfillment becomes the digital female's benchmark for authenticity.

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