Avatar suicide videos ritualize an avatar’s final exit from the virtual world. Focusing on such videos in the context of World of Warcraft, this essay argues first that the avatar-player relationship produces a fluid subjectivity; then, drawing on Judith Butler’s theory of melancholy gender, the author contends that this subjectivity enables a recognition of the same-sex love and desire prohibited by heterosexist culture through an enactment of its loss. As such, avatar suicide videos dramatize death in order to create an important space of public grieving in which the cultural prohibitions against such recognition and mourning might be suspended. Disrupting norms of aggressive heteromasculinity in dominant gamer culture, these videos might help us imagine alternative ways of living with melancholy gender.
Masculinity and Melancholia at the Virtual End: Leaving the World (of Warcraft)
kimberly j. lau is a professor of literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on literature and popular culture in relation to gender, race, and feminist theory. She is the author, most recently, of Erotic Infidelities: Love and Desire in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (Wayne State University Press, 2015).
Kimberly J. Lau; Masculinity and Melancholia at the Virtual End: Leaving the World (of Warcraft). differences 1 December 2017; 28 (3): 44–66. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-4260531
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