This week MTV launches Virtual Laguna Beach, its online community that will allow fans of the wildly popular "reality" series to meet up in an online paradise based on the confusingly semi-scripted world featured on the show. In a demonstration of what will surely become the site's most popular feature, MTV senior VP Matt Bostwick proudly showed the NY Times how easy it is for a middle-aged man to trade in his insufficiently alluring physical form for one more likely to attract the attention of bored, horny teenage boys:
The first step is designing your avatar — which can be made to look as much like or unlike your actual self as you wish. During a demonstration last week at MTV, Mr. Bostwick played the role of an avatar named Violet Jade whom he configured — scrolling through an extensive menu of eye shapes, hair colors, skin tones and so on — to look like a typical character on the show: blond, tan and scantily clad.
The community does seem to have built in at least a token safeguard against any casually predatory shenanigans, as these avatars can engage in nothing more first-basey than "Catholic school kissing [where] the lips touch, but the bodies don't" (Bostwick's words, not ours), forcing dedicated molesters unsatisfied by PG-13-rated online contact to lure their quarry from the virtual hot tub and into a more traditional, offline trap.
- Not in the Real World Anymore [NY Times]