If you’ve been reading this blog for a while…. Wait that was even blunter than usual. I mean:
Hi Guys! How is everyone? Enjoying early spring? Montreal has never been a city you choose for the weather but the past few years have really been brutal. A little dose of sunshine is certainly welcomed!
So….if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably already know that I have very few “live action” friends who watch anime. I’ve decided to use “live action” instead of “real life” because you guys are very real to me. I hope to meet you at a con some day.
It’s not that I’m particularly shy about my love of anime, I’m just rather introverted and don’t tend to actively seek people out. As such if you don’t come to me, I probably don’t know you. Actually, let me take that back, I *do* get oddly shy about my love for anime. I just don’t want to be one of those guys that smothers you with their passion just because you asked a polite question or that goes on forever babbling about subjects no one cares about.
As a result, even when I do get asked about my hobby by well meaning friends and acquaintances, I end up giving short extremely superficial answers and brushing it off. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about the subject, I just want to talk about it so desperately I’m bound to scare/bore people off. Or at least, that’s what I thought.
It’s been years since I’ve had an actual anime conversation with someone who isn’t already a devoted fan. In fact, I may never have had one. I know nothing of the assumptions and preconceptions of normies. Heck, I only know the word normie because if Steins;Gate and Twitter. I’m pretty sure no one uses it anymore, I mean it’s at least a decade old show and, you know…Twitter…
But all that changed ever so slightly last month. Work has been…the polite way to put it would be: challenging. My own position comes with a fair share of emotional management and political wrangling both of which I am, at best, serviceable at but by no means equipped to deal with in more challenging times. After an exhausting couple of days, a few of us were reaching the end of our rope and I decided to take the edge off just a little by sending them an anime meme (just a pic really). Nothing that special mind you. It was that scene from Humanity has Declined where the negotiator says: we must show that we took action even if those actions are meaningless… Wait, this blog has the ability to show pictures…Irina wins at blogging again!
As you can see, it’s not earth shattering or anything. But the immediate reaction I got was: “I’ve never seen a Japanese animation, I thought it was for children…”
Putting aside the fact that I don’t think I come off as particularly simple and therefore might not devote so much of my free time to something that was not at least slightly stimulating for an adult, I was struck by how quaint the reaction was. There have been animated works aimed at adults for a very long time now. I figured most people had put aside that particular notion, but no. When I actually ventured into the nonfan realm, I was met with the exact same assumptions that have been around for as long as I can remember.
But that’s not the really interesting part. The great part was the second sentence. The one that said: “maybe I should watch some!”.
We sometimes have a tendency to be protective of our medium fandom. Heck we get hyper touchy about our respective anime fandoms with each other, and we’re supposed to be on the same manga page! As soon as someone starts with the old anime cliches, we get downright defensive. Easiest thing to do is to dismiss them offhand. I mean how can you even begin to explain an entire medium to someone who has such naive expectations.
**Dear unnamed friend, if you’re reading this, know that I’m writing this with love. Our little chat made my day in fact and led me to some introspection for which I thank you. You should come over for dinner and anime whenever you’re free***
It’s a bit similar to people who tell me they “don’t read” or that “books are boring”. I mean, there’s no response to that, is there? At least none that won’t take me months to put together. You have to build an entire information infrastructure from the ground up before you can even start a conversation. At least that’s what I have been telling myself. Politely smiling whenever I heard the old misconceptions, and deflecting the whole thing with an “it’s not for everyone….”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is because I’m lazy and a bit of a jerk. As much as I assumed people were mindlessly judging me for my hobby, I was just as unfairly assuming they weren’t interested, wouldn’t get it, would be prejudiced… I judged them for no reason, so I never gave anyone the chance. I kept a hobby that has brought me delight, selfishly to myself on the off chance someone might silently scoff at me.
Well that’s not the best thing I’ve ever realized about myself. Not the worst, not by a long shot! Still not great. Good news is, it’s a pretty easy fix.
Next time someone tries to approach me about anime with an innocent but misguided comment, I’ll actually engage. I’ll talk to them with the assumption that they are open minded intelligent people who want to learn more on a subject they don’t have much information on. Instead of self-dismissing before anyone else has a chance to. I’ll let my passions flow out of me for everyone to share.
This got a little out of hand there. I’ll just stick with talking to them nicely. Maybe suggesting a couple of animes if anything comes to mind. Showing them your blogs! That should go a long way towards dispelling the occasionally less than stellar reputation anime fans have been saddled with (and sadly sometimes earned).
Because the gatekeepers are wrong. There’s enough space in our community for anyone that wants to be here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lend my friend my copy of Steins;Gate and see if they ever talk to me again after that! El psy congroo to all!