Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Superficial Gender Critique of Poser 7

By default the program makes inverse normals black on render (i.e. no maps for the inside of a skin), but this is what Poser says a big inverted vagina looks like.

About 2 years ago I started using Poser 7. I’ve come back to it recently, to work out reflections for Wallow in Immanence, and discovered that among the options for altering the bodies they introduced to the default library with this version (and previous ones, I think, although the newest figures are the least anatomically wonky so I’ve stuck to those) is a “genital” scroll bar that can make genitals more or less prominent.

There are many things one can learn about the assumptions and political weirdnesses of Poser’s design team by seeing what you’re limited to when using the program superficially. Firstly, nobody has genitals to start with. The female figure only has genitals if you turn her genital bar to positive - and, of course, INVERSE GENITALS if you turn it negative.

The male figure is a meaty Ken doll, all taint, with no option for genitals at all. The menu option called “genitals” can have a check next to it or not, it makes no difference. Male genitals load separately and you have to position them on the body. The man’s junk has its own sliding sets of criteria. I know, dudes, this is exactly how it is, sure, thanks, got it, whatever. You can’t make an inverse penis, but you CAN make an inverse boner. I have yet to find an uncircumsized Poser penis, though.

Previous male poser library figures DID come with genitals on them. You could do an inverse boner with those, too. The men are by default more mesomorphic, females endomorphic. The three “body types” have scrollables, in 7, and the same figure can be both bony and muscular, and so on. I enjoy that, it looks like it took a lot of work and research.

Female figures have no body hair, and the male’s is Porn Star trimmed, but then, hair is something Poser has a whole separate interface for, and I haven’t yet figured out whether it limits where you can put that hair.

It’s almost like the primary users of Poser are supposed to be a category of people who are not allowed anywhere near real bodies and are specifically working for censored media. At the same time, they tried to anticipate users making porn with their program. The naturalistic territory between those extremes became narrow because they were thinking like Americans. By the way, none of the default library characters that I can find come in any color but beige, although the Poser 7 characters have ethnically-mixed-looking features. Regardless of how Poser’s designers and managers justify the options based on their feedback, the weird, weird decisions were theirs.

And oh, Breast Controls! Breasts are unnaturally perky unless you crank up the “breastsnatural”. One of the strangest scrollables is “Nonipples”: by default, nipples are totally flat, but a positive value on that one makes them holes on the breasts. What the positive and negative values entail is counter-intuitive, there. You can move and orient breasts together, apart, up, down, asymmetrical, whatever you need. But you can’t have a negative value for “breastsflatten”. No way can you simulate gravity making breasts DANGLE.

Also? While dicks can be resized (whether separately or, clumsily, as another body part), whatever size breasts the female figure has, you cannot change them. I mean… okay. Womens’ breast sizes can alter radically over the course of a month, even! And you can’t… I can understand preventing Poser users from going nuts with boob jobs, but the nonsensical double standard with male junk? I’m having a lot of fun with the mega-erections. With everyone looking so porny anyway, could Poser please just let us have fun with it? Is it that all the potentially x-rated stuff installs separately, so there's a sexless (but definitely not genderless) version that would be possible?

It’s actually pretty hard to get to various stages of androgeny, except in faces. Poser, you fail. And you clearly tried so hard, too.

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