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Bella Hadid Makes Out With Computer Generated Influencer, Gets Accused Of "Queerbaiting"

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Supermodel Bella Hadid has been accused of “queerbaiting” after making out with Lil Miquela, a computer-generated influencer, in order to sell designer underwear. Wikipedia defines queerbaiting as: “a marketing technique for fiction and entertainment in which creators hint at, but then not actually depict, same-sex romance.”

Miquela Sousa, also known as “Lil Miquela”, is a fictional Social Media influencer and character, created by a Los Angeles startup called Brud. Miquela (a proclaimed supporter of LGBT rights and Black Lives Matter) updates her 1.5m followers on Instagram, with pictures of her imaginary life and even persona. In the past few years, the virtual model has become a bona fide celebrity: collaborating with Prada, starring in Ugg ads, and interviewing artists at Coachella. In her latest project, a video for Calvin Klein, she appears to kiss a half-naked (and very heterosexual) Hadid as a voiceover proclaims some marketing nonsense about and opening doors and creating dreams.

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Miquela interviews @jpegmafia at Coachella!

A post shared by *~ MIQUELA ~* (@lilmiquela) on

While Miquela may be a new-age creation, the trick of fabricating girl-on-girl action to promote your brand is a tale as old as time. The ad immediately sparked a backlash, which prompted Calvin Klein to issue an apology on Friday, acknowledging that featuring “someone who identifies as heterosexual in a same-sex kiss could be perceived as queerbaiting”.

You may be surprised to hear that Miquela isn’t the only computer-generated influencer, and that they are actually becoming increasingly common (yikes). Shudu Gram is a fictional black Instagram model created by a white photographer; Liam Nikuro is a Japanese male influencer; and YouPorn recently launched a virtual spokeswoman called Jedy Vales. It’s sort of easy to see why brands are interested in fictional influencers though; as one venture capitalist pointed out to the Wall Street Journal recently: “You can create the Kardashians without any of the inherent issues that come with being human.” Virtual celebrities don’t come with any controversies or past dramas.

What do you guys think of this strange trend?

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