Final Fantasy video game characters model Prada: Time for a re-think

[From Jason Godfrey’s blog Big Smile No Teeth at The Star Online]

The final frontier?

When models have to compete with video game characters for jobs, it’s time for a re-think.

By Jason Godfrey
Sunday April 22, 2012

It’s tough being a model and it only gets tougher. Not only is competition among models for jobs incredibly fierce, but now models are competing against computers too.

Yep, this could be to modelling what Deep Blue beating Kasparov was to chess, but way less mentally straining. April’s issue of Arena Homme features Prada’s new spring/summer collection as modelled entirely by characters from a video game ( Seriously.

Like models didn’t have it hard enough with all the major fashion cosmetics campaigns and major magazine covers going to celebrities – remember Tobey Maguire for Prada? – but now they are losing out to virtual celebrities? That’s a kick in the collective groin of live action mannequins everywhere.

And to really dump sodium chloride in a festering open wound, the editorial spread uses Lightning, Noel, Hope and Sazh, all characters from the Final Fantasy franchise. And if you just read that list of names, you’d say, “Who the heck are those guys?”

Yeah, that was my reaction too.

These are relative B-listers in the grand scheme of gaming. In celebrity terms it’s like bypassing Kim to put Chloe Kardashian on the cover of FHM or like … well … like putting Maguire in a Prada ad. Seriously?

If video game characters are going to replace models they could have at least gone with some of gaming’s heavyweights like Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, or at the very least, somebody from the Street Fighter franchise, though Blanka’s green skin and orange hair would have been a nightmare to match with an outfit.

But the casting of Final Fantasy’s quartet of lean, boyish characters proved that some things will stay the same. They maintained the real world fashion aesthetic of using young, slightly androgynous male models. Super Mario was probably too fat; Sonic was probably too much of a hedgehog. Fat and hedgehog are not words used to describe working models, now or ever.

Picture a world where all billboards and magazine pages are covered with computer-generated models. Besides the obvious evil of taking money from hungry models (believe me they are hungry; it’s a combination of dieting and poor spending habits), what about portraying a level of beauty that really is totally perfect and completely unattainable?

Forget airbrushing blemishes and styling clothes to fit the model because these models are perfect, or you go back and make them perfect. With virtual models you don’t take an inch out of the pants, you take an inch out of the model. Absolute perfection each and every time and the effects that will have on us as consumers remain to be seen.

A few months ago a L’Oreal advert with Rachel Weiss was banned in Britain for being “misleading” because the actress appeared to look “too good to be true”. I’m thinking that Weiss may exist in a perpetual aesthetic state of “too good to be true” but in the ads she looked particularly flawless. But at least she’s real!

With computer-generated models there’s no expectation of the characters representing reality because they’re not real; but if we’re bombarded by perfect images of hyper-realistic computer characters day in and day out aren’t the effects the same? It’s only a matter of time before we all consciously or unconsciously start measuring our attractiveness against artificially and wholly manufactured corporate visions of beauty.

Hmmm … actually that sounds a lot like what we’re doing now.

Maybe the more things change the more they stay the same and this is the next step in the complete automation of human civilisation. Maybe next we’re going to replace our matinee idols with computer-animated characters.

We’ve already seen the beginnings of this with Beowulf, the 2007 film in which computer graphics turned pudgy fiftysomething Ray Winstone into a young, throbbing muscled Viking, and Angelina Jolie into a hot … uh … well, Jolie’s already hot, so I don’t know what the point there was.

Well if this is the future and we’re going to start using video game characters as models, please get Lara Croft to do a Victoria’s Secret campaign or give the Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar to the women of Mortal Kombat. That would be the first step to taking some of the sting out of losing modelling jobs to a rotund plumber or a spiky haired hedgehog because, let’s face it – when an over-caffeinated rodent can do your job, it’s time to move on to something else.

Jason Godfrey can be seen hosting The LINK on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 706).


3 responses to “Final Fantasy video game characters model Prada: Time for a re-think”

  1. James Seltzer

    This is a very interesting article. Personally, I had actually noticed that I was seeing more video game characters/virtual characters in ads and commercials than I had in the past, so this article rings true to me. However, it is a little surprising that models (who have always been exalted as the peak of attractiveness) would be preempted in favor of virtual characters. It is certainly a sign that people are becoming more comfortable with telepresence and presence in their every day lives. I think the most interesting point raised in the article is the idea that, in the future attractiveness of humans may be measured by how much they look like virtual characters. That is a creepy and yet interesting thought.

  2. This is very interesting and scary! but not at all surprising. Like the article said we have already been digitally enhancing women’s features in advertising, setting the standard for being beautiful to an unrealistic point. I’m sure the next “killing us softly” documentary will analyze and say the same thing. Even though we humans will still be able to identify the artificiality in the models but subconsciously we will begin to accept it as the standard for beauty. The lines between artificiality and reality are gradually starting to disappear increasing our acceptance of telepresence.

  3. Kavita Nayar

    I am not surprised by this trend since I think the fashion and design industry has always been obsessed with the beauty of artificiality, but I do wonder how much it will impact our cultural standards for beauty compared to the current use of airbrushing “real” people. Perhaps our recognition that there is a line between artificial and real and the knowledge that we are choosing to feature artificial beauty will put the pressure off “real” people to attempt this perfection and add value to the authenticity of their features. Already virtual or artificial beauty is available in the pornography industry, but that doesn’t mean there has been a shift toward the preference for artificial perfection in this area.. or does it?

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