In what’s either an unexpectedly biting commentary on the artificiality of influencer culture or a depressing reflection of the artificiality of actual culture, talent agency CAA has signed a deal with “freckle-faced, CGI-generated teen robot” Miquela, a “virtual influencer” created by a company called Brud. This comes from Variety, which says Miquela has millions of Instagram followers and 550,000 subscribers on TikTok, despite the fact that she’s literally just a cartoon with a human-like appearance. Variety says Brud is billing Miquela as a “Gen Z tastemaker” with sponsorship deals from Samsung, Prada, Calvin Klein, and YouTube, subtly hinting that this is all a gross excuse to sell things to impressionable social media users without having to pay a human person like one of those Kardashians.
It’s all very reminiscent of the kind of thing you see in futuristic fiction all the time, with a reasonable facsimile of a person appearing as a big neon hologram and telling all of the passersby on the rainy streets of Neo-Detroit or whatever about how much happier they’d be in the outworld colonies or by permanently uploading their brains to a mega-corporation’s cyber-clone database. Or, you know, Ana de Armas’ character in Blade Runner 2049. Like, it’s literally the same thing. This is the future of advertising.
Variety goes on to say that Miquela’s “persona” is that of a social activist, and that she has used her platform to highlight issues facing “homeless and displaced women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and youth in crisis,” but that all means shit when she’s being used to sell stuff. It’s gross when anyone uses their social media platforms for ads, but at least the Kardashians have to eat food. When Miquela says “buy a Samsung thing,” it’s because it’s helping companies like CAA and Brud make money. When she says “youth are in crisis,” it’s because she’s helping companies like CAA and Brud make money.
Say what you will about Hatsune Miku, but at least she’s an artist. Miquela is just Flo from Progressive but without an apron that says who’s paying her, and now she’s signed to CAA (presumably because all humans with talents have already been snatched up by CAA or its competitors).