How Vtubers Handle Fetishization and Harassment

Many artists have expressed frustrations that fans have used AI learning machines to generate images copied from their vtube designs. Aruuu worked with Iron Vertex for a year and a half to create his character. “The sketching process was kind of a headache because I was very particular,” she said.

After design, Aruuu worked with a technician to animate the character’s facial expressions. “She’d be like, ‘Okay, start smiling as broadly as you can for me.’ “Let’s raise our eyebrows a little more” – you know, so the model is specially adapted to my face.

Uguubear, another independent vtuber with 59,000 subscribers, also decided to start vtubing after feeling awkward on camera while live-streaming her games and art. “I make a lot of weird faces when I draw,” she said. “I don’t want to have to worry about that because people will come in and just say things based on how you look.”

At first, she simply tried to turn off her camera, but that confused people who hopped on her feed and were greeted with a black screen, so she commissioned an avatar from an artist. It also helped mitigate any hateful comments that would be directed at him.

“When people come up and say these kinds of things to your avatar, it’s not directly against you,” she said. Streaming behind an avatar also made positive comments about his mannerisms more impactful. “What really warms my heart is that people appreciate my laugh, because it was something that really bothered me.”

Another hurdle for indie vtubers is that more responsibility falls on the creator rather than a company, including investing in their character’s global build. Uguubear said she was interested in the idea of ​​making a lore video – but instead of a fantasy, she hopes she can use the opportunity to share her real life story as an American adoptee. of Korean descent. “On TikTok, I watched a lot of adoptee content and it unlocked things in me,” she said. “I want to be able to connect with people like that.”

Unlike agency-signed creators, who have support staff to monitor chat feeds, freelance creators must manage their own community environments. Uguubear said she has put up forbidden words and relies on her followers to maintain the healthy environment she tries to foster. Aruuu shares tips with other creators on filtering NSFW content from his feeds, such as using a social media tagging system to compartmentalize obscene cartoons.

“[Sexualization] going to exist in any form of anything,” Uguubear said. “It’s like that.”

It would be remiss to discuss sexualization in vtubing without acknowledging its deep ties to the fetishization of Asian women. At TwitchCon, some people I asked about the hypersexualization of vtubers using avatars of Asian women weren’t sure where they stood. “This is a dangerous category to talk about”, Twitch user Jakkc728 said outside of the official Twitch vtuber panel. “Everyone has a different opinion.”

But it was inevitable. I was continually confronted with artistic depictions of Asian female bodies consumed by a predominantly white, predominantly male gaze. On the expo floor, a stall selling “Waifu Cups” had men crowded around the table. During the panel, speaker Uguubear addressed an audience of mostly white and Asian men. Even the creators themselves must confront their roles in it.

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