NABOKV-L post 0018778, Fri, 13 Nov 2009 23:43:05 -0500

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Lolita exiled from Second Life
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Jansy Mello sends the following link:

THAT BOOK BY NABOKOV
New World Notes: FORBES FLUNKS SCHOOL OF SECOND LIFE
The July 2nd issue of Forbes 2009



Iris Ophelia models Elegant Gothic Lolita attire-- and a source of metaverse moral panic
Lolita is the name of Vladimir Nabokov's best known novel, a strange and shattering fable of decadent old Europe and brash, ignorant America, as told through the eyes of a sexual predator. And though it would surely pain Nabokov, who makes it plain that his anti-hero Humbert Humbert is a deluded sociopath perhaps to be pitied but definitely to be jailed, "Lolita" has also become code for fetishized underage girls.
It's for this reason that the word itself effectively no longer exists in Second Life. For several years the Lindens declined to act on community complaints against the niche "age play" subculture, in which Residents create pre-adult avatars, often for innocent roleplay, but to the outrage of most, occasionally for sexual fantasy. (Sometimes this would lead to bouts of vigilantism, age play areas beset by sign-waving neighbors, and when that didn't take, neighbors waving weapons.) In recent months, however, the Lindens reversed course and explicitly forbade the obscene variety. (This is likely because Second Life servers are soon to be co-located in European countries where even virtual pedophilia is outlawed.) Related to this, the Lindens removed numerous terms connoting age play from the world's database of groups and places-- and so now, entering the title of a classic American novel as a search query only gets you the terse return, "None found."
And though the Lindens have also said that roleplaying as a childlike avatar is not in itself a punishable offense-- as long is it's not done in lewd contexts-- confusion around the policy has apparently led to some level of moral panic. And in turn, to ostracism of an established real world fashion subculture. Which is why, when Melpomene Rhode recently stopped by a store in search of eyelashes, someone told her to get out.