Mapping The Bit Girl: Lara Croft And New Media Fandom

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Information, Communication and Society


This paper examines the fan movement surrounding Lara Croft, a computer-generated character who has appeared in computer games, comic books, men's magazines, promotional tours, music videos, calendars, action figures and motion pictures. A fixture of the pop-culture landscape since 1996, Croft embodies or incarnates a nexus of cultural, economic, and technological forces, whose shared characteristic is their powerful hold on a vast audience base. Lara Croft is nothing without her fans. As the founding member of a new mode of celebrity system featuring female digital stars, Croft's essentially technological nature – the mode of her signification and circulation – produces continuities and ruptures with traditional fan practices, reframing our understandings of categories such as ‘fan’, ‘audience’, ‘character’, and ‘text’ in relation to a mediascape whose speed and multiplicity mark not just postmodernism, but adaptive responses to postmodernity. From this perspective, Lara Croft is less a singular entity than a coping strategy, a mediation of media. The concerns of this project are, first, to examine Lara Croft as a conjunction of industrial and representational forces intended to promote certain types of reception and consumption; second, to assess the ways in which her peculiar semiotic status – simultaneously open-ended and concrete – renders her available for appropriation and elaboration by fans; and, finally, to discuss the ways in which Croft's fandom opens up new debates about the relationship between texts, audiences, and technology.


Reprinted in: (2007). “Mapping the Bit Girl: Lara Croft and New Media Fandom.” The Cybercultures Reader, 2nd Ed.

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