Siloed for Sanity: Anime Fandom Ghetto Encourages Harmony

Just quoting some tweets here, between SDS, Ed, Daryl and JP:

SDS: I can’t help but wonder if the root of nerd misogyny is a bitterness towards being unable to reap the benefits of being male often mentioned

SDS: If one does disagree about a character being sexist or not, I would hope the argument would involve reasons why that character is positive.

SDS: And not “Well it happens to guys too so there!” (it doesn’t)

Ed Sizemore: @sdshamshel Shhh. Let the gamers and superhero fans be insensitive jerks. They can drive the geek girls into the arms of the anime fanboys.

Daryl: @edsizemore Per @sdshamshel‘s hypothesis, if the geek girls are driven to the anime fanboys the anime fans without will intensify their hate

jpmeyer: @DarylSurat @edsizemore @sdshamshel my theory is that anime fandom isn’t as bad because it has rigidly gendered areas (waifus vs. yaoi etc)

me: @jpmeyer anime nerds can get it on without resorting to line-blurring stuff; fanservice a time honored element

me: @jpmeyer or another way of saying, there is less qualms about outright porn in anime fandom

jpmeyer: @omonomono when your fandom coins the phrase “rule 34”, you don’t flip out when girls draw pictures of your favorite characters buttsecksing

The fact is, anime culture out here is grown up among and along with jokes like “Tentacle Rape” and what have you. It’s not wholesome stuff. People get the wrong idea about it all the time even today. Its exploitative reputation in the 80s and 90s are well-rooted in like-kind works that are available in the west at the time, despite having the term (anime, Japanimation, whatever) covering all Japanese animation, from Future Boy Conan to Cool Devices.

Video gaming has gone a long way since its early days in the 70s and 80s; but unlike anime, the west is intimately familiar with video games. And unlike anime, the concept of video games have long been something wholesome for the family. In some ways it’s no different than the word “cartoon” and its connotation. [To think of it in reverse, it’s like as if Japanese games were its own category of games and are treated differently than non-Japanese games.] I can pretty clearly recall that it wasn’t until the mid 90s did we get games that actually broached adult content in the mainstream gamer consciousness, at least beyond the usual strip poker or the like. (It’s hard to do ero when the graphics isn’t quite there yet.) Yes, you get to blow people up in pieces, or aliens, or whatever that it is you were shooting. The GTA games really elevated that at around the turn of the century. Old guard “adult” games like LSL were, for the most part, wholesome, even if they did play to adult sensibilities.

More importantly, consoles and video games become something everyone played at some point in their lives. That might be enough of a key to turn our attention to them in general.

What I am seeing is this sensibility being slowly expanded in mainstream gaming to approach the varying issues that anime had to deal with since day zero. If gamers can just own up to that a part of their experience–to acknowledge the entire spectrum of human discourse is fair game in the medium of video games–maybe people will be better off? To put it in fewer words, own up to the sexist, misogynistic side? It’s like legalizing marijuana, or better yet, acknowledge the issue because “knowing is half the battle.”

I guess what I am suggesting is a subtle thing–it isn’t to say if we made more porn or adult-only games, it will make mainstream games less sexist, or anything like that. I’m wondering if the people who play games–gamers–will sort themselves out accordingly, if we give them appropriate “playgrounds” in which they will go and mind their own businesses. In other words, if we created some genre of games that makes things like DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball obsolete? Or added another 20 genres to what’s out there, beyond the bounds of gameplay but also in terms of themes and human needs? And have discourses that are thoroughly off tangent from the mainstream discourse as a way to give more choices for gamers to spend their time? What if we simply all played the games we wanted to play, and they happened to be very different and not the same 10 AAA sequels from the same 4-5 big publishers every year?

I also think the whole concept of “AAA” gaming accelerates and complicates this problem. It’s retarded that we all have to care about only a handful of games, just because tons of money is spent to market it. I don’t even know if tons of money is spent to create a AAA game that actually goes into the development. These titles are as authentic as, well, as Lana Del Rey.

The problem about everyone caring about one game is that it is very difficult to fund a controversial game and piss people off (at least intentionally, not through incompetence). What does it say about the industry or scene if a flagship title is, say, sexist or treat minorities poorly? What if it is extremely violent? Does it matter? More importantly, what does our attitudes about AAA titles say about how we, in the converse, don’t care about the countless titles that gets little to no press, which may be even worse or very commendable when we use the same ruler to measure? Why this double standard? Or rather, this is exactly the mechanism that anime communities have long adopted to co-exist.

The fact of the matter is I share a banner, a heading, as people who buy these figures (NSFW). Because I buy bishoujo pre-panted stuff (tho nothing like this). Because I like anime. This is just for example, sure, but you probably share some title, being an anime/manga person, with people who are into totally different things than you do. Rule 34, after all, spares no one. We certainly don’t have to like it, but I think that sort of things exist in enough of a vacuum, both in actual separation and in the contextual sense, that we can co-exist. The merit of ideas remain the primary means in which good stories, characters, settings, concepts, shows, franchises, fan participation, artwork, and all that we do, move up in the marketplace of ideas. Anime has always had a marketing problem oversea; the flip side is that it is easier for trashy, late-night anime (or ONA crap even) to bubble up in the fandom discourse, provided that it has merit; that the siloing of different types of fans who are interested in the different aspects of this fandom allows for merit to outshine preconception. More importantly, these silos help in that we all can lend each other our strengths and still keep all that naughty stuff to ourselves.

PS. NYAF died in its ghetto. Will its rebirth (lol shared artist space with NYCC AA) cause friction? Got a few months to go before we find out!

6 Responses to “Siloed for Sanity: Anime Fandom Ghetto Encourages Harmony”

  • Fencedude

    Those top few figures are truly amazing. The broomstick, I think, is the true finishing touch.

    Anyway, I greatly agree about the games issue, and I think that you have a point as well about the general harmony in anime fandom due to how easy it is to find your niche within the niche.

    Granted, collisions and friction do happen, but by and large I find most don’t get too worked up about each others porn.

    (btw: I am, and have been for quite some time, utterly enamored by Ignis. And that wedding dress figure of her is truly divine. But of course, its a cast-off. *sigh*)

    • omo

      Castoffs in of itself is no big deal, it’s much more important to have good sculpting and quality. Unfortunately castoffs tend to compromise that.

      Ignis is a bit like Saber in this regard, lol.

    • Fencedude

      Yeah, one of my Ignis figures is a cast-off, and its nice, but it would be nicer if it didn’t have the compromises inherent in making a cast-off.

  • jpmeyer

    My pet theories about why video game fandom is so bad:

    1) It’s fundamentally about dominance
    2) Much of it is rooted in arcade culture, which is a product of ghetto culture
    3) If you want to play video games, you frequently will need to interact with other members of the fandom or else well, you can’t do anything with the thing that you are a fan of.

    • omo

      All sound points to me. Lots of evidence for #3 and #1, a little sketchy for #2.

      The slow death of single player games, I suppose, hastens this process as well.

    • ToastCrust

      I think it’s relevant to note that probably the most active segment of single player games is the one that heavily crosses over with the anime/manga fansphere (that is, Japanese RPG’s and schmups).

      A fair amount of anime fans will play Western RPG’s too, for that matter, and seem to just generally like single player games.

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