There’s a couple of dumb debates rating on Twitter right now, because…well *Twitter*. It’s the same old story. Insert popular anime name here is sexist, racist, promotes violence and/or bad behaviour. It doesn’t even matter when I chose to publish this post it will be completely true no matter the season.

oh look, people are outraged…

It’s a useless argument. Half the time people aren’t making a difference between “depicts” and “promotes”. Just because a story includes and element, doesn’t mean it endorses it. The rest of the time they are basing themselves on extremely thin evidence or ignoring the fact that these are elements omnipresent in fiction and hardly restricted to anime. They are often right by strict definition but ignore context and spirit.

It’s annoying. I’m a fluffy hippie who thinks we should love each other and that most people have the inherent right to exist and be respected and have the same opportunities as their neighbours until they actively do something to lose that right. Like murder. I think equal rights are very important and I will fight for them. But when I start seeing people attacking a show like Jojo for sexism, I can’t help but think the efforts may be misplaced.

I guess if you stretch it they could be sort of right, according to one very precise definition of sexism but to me, they muddy the issue and risk in a way, making light of a very real problem that exists. And it’s not the statement. Making a claim and defending it with facts or even opinions is fine in my book. It’s the attacks. The idea that a fiction is bigoted (debatable) therefore anyone who enjoys is is also bigoted (doubly debatable and in my opinion a fallacy) and should therefore be shamed and correct their behaviour.

These all or nothing stances and often unprovoked attacks tend to invalidate a person’s point in a lot of people’s minds. So even if they were right on some level they communicated it in such a bad way that it ended up being wrong. And in my personal experience,  even if I agree with some part of the argument, I’m now uncomfortable with approving of anything the person says to avoid accidentally supporting the rest of the behaviour.

yes I am

But sometimes they have a point. Not usually ones I happen to agree with but that doesn’t make them invalid. I’ve seen so many arguments against specific series by people who openly admit to not having watched them that I have gotten suspicious by nature. However they have issues that are important to them for whatever reason and wish to express them. That’s not a bad thing in itself.

And that’s when the other side comes in. Fans that aggressively try to silence them, calling them names, demanding they get off whatever public platform they are on, directly belittling and ridiculing them before the former even have a chance to explain themselves. It’s no wonder they often become defensive to the point of nonsense.

I’ve seen so many potentially interesting debates get shut down before they start because fans immediately overreact. I’m also a little disappointed by how easily and quickly my community gets baited by trolls. Obviously someone who says all anime fans are virgins who don’t bathe is only doing it to get a reaction. Or they are intellectually challenged in a way that makes arguing rather pointless. That’s another story though.

stupid girl

Let me give an imaginary example. A tweet says Natsume’s Book of Friends is Sexist. Now I want to agree with my fellow fans that calling Natsume’s Book of Friends sexist because it admittedly it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test is shortsighted. I also want to grumble about it a little since it’s one of my favourite animes and I react on an emotional level to criticism of the series. Also it’s not sexist you guys. It’s simply very focused on Natsume’s experience and POV but it features wonderfully realized and developed female characters with both agency and impact….

But when the immediate response is personal attacks on the person that made the tweet or direct dismissal, it becomes difficult for me to endorse. So I just don’t engage either way. Despite the fact that both the topic and example are dear to me.

***This is really just for illustration, I don’t think anyone has ever called Natsume sexist and even if they did, I have a though time imagining Natsume fans going for the jugular. I could be wrong though. I just wanted to pick a show that wouldn’t get me into one of those crazy debates. I hope it gets my point across***

It’s possible I’m the crazy one here. After all I’m the one who somehow manages to disagree with both sides. And I’m not fighting for reform or anything. I think that would be pretty pointless on my little blog. I just wish I knew of a place where one’s opinion of SAO neither made them a fake fan casual (you have to say it in a sneering voice) or an elitist gatekeeper (you also have to say it in a sneering voice…). I have hope that other people may want that too.

Cross-Over. Natsume
or I just wanted an excuse to post amazing cross over Natsume art! (found it Here)


24 thoughts

    1. Well offensive is fine. People are 100% allowed to have a voice and a right to express themselves without being threathened and belittled in my opinion. I’ve certainly used that right a lot and I would hate to lose it.

        1. I do understand your point. I guess I’m just a bit worried by who decides what’s valid? Also how can one base moral reasoning on facts? That’s the slippery slope. I once said that as a survivor some fanservice made me uncomfortable and I was immediately told to stop watching anime then… Literally within seconds. I have no empirical evidence to base my discomfort on other than it reminded me of some of the worst moments in my life and the show was trying to tell me it’s actually funny and fine which made me uncomfortable. That’s not a judgment call on the anime or a morality call on the viewers. I even said I otherwise enjoyed the show. But it’s an aspect of my experience just like my views on the at style or the voice acting performances are. It’s a shame that we don’t have any way of discussing those aspects as they could yield interesting conversations. Maybe I’m just a “snowflake”, actually I probably am. Fluffy hippie Canadian and all that – pretty much have no choice but being a snowflake. All I was aiming for was a call for open mindedness on all sides. Including giving emotional fear based opinions a chance to say their bit before dismissing them.

          1. I’m sorry you’ve had such an experience in your life and certainly if something makes you feel uncomfortable that isn’t your fault. Even if that person didn’t know your reason, their attitude is deplorable.

            What you are feeling is personal therefore is valid because we all have our triggers, so you are entitled to feel the way you do – I get upset when people make jokes about Autism, mental health or disabilities.

            As a red blooded male I find a lot of fan service uncomfortable, largely if the ladies are young and the fact someone went to the trouble of drawing and animating it, which is creepy to me.

            Hippies were actually cool as they opposed things that should be challenged – war, corruption, wealth inequality, racism, etc. They promoted love, peace and enjoyed great music to boot so they’re cool in my book! 🙂

  1. This is such a difficult topic. There are so many complications, like strucural -isms, that don’t depend on bigotry to be propagated. Lack of awareness and sometimes complacency are enough. At the same time, there’s enjoying problematic stuff: using fiction to appeal to primal instincts doesn’t tend to be very controversial when it comes to violence (though there are spots, like in videogame, where contentions exist), but do it with sex… It’s difficult. Often it’s not so much about getting rid of such elements, as it is about re-contextualising them, which is hard, because a lot of the things you’d need to change are things we learned as very small children and use to make sense of the world. Changes are going to be slow and require patiance (or fast and require luck to stick – if you stretch a rubber band it’s going to snap back as soon as you let go, and tear if you pull too hard).

    Of course, I’m also a little sceptical about the usefulness of twitter in debates. With its word limit, focus on sharing and liking, I think a modicum of tribalisation is built in. I’d expect problems like these, while they occur everywhere, to stand out more on twitter. But I don’t know, really, since I’m not on twitter and only read occasionally. And even then the effect could be subtle.

    My basic attitude to this is that whatever the social norms are, it’s going to be easier to follow them for some than for others. So whatever the system, -isms will arise. The only way to respond is to reject any sort of dogmaticism, and to question your own view points as much as you can, without rendering yourself impotent with doubt. And be aware that everyone (yourself included) has blindspots.

  2. Yeah, I upset some folks with my review of ep 3 of Fire Force (the Shinra meets Tamaki debacle), but even then I was arguing that the show as a whole was rather good. (It took ep 4 to end my viewership.)

    1. Actually it was a Fire Force debate on Twitter that prompted this post. I like the show, i hate how it treats Tamaki (the show itself, the characters are fine) But to see people I know just jump down the troath of anyone that dares suggest that there’s a better way to handle sexualisation than complete objectification without even listening to the reasoning was really wearing me down.

      1. Agreed, which is why I made it clear in my post–and in the discussions that followed–that my opinion was directly affected by my role as a law enforcement officer. I didn’t see the situation as objectification (and don’t understand that particular viewpoint), but as a legal (and moral) violation of Tamaki’s person. But, again, I’m a cop. . .

        1. Oh if you had kept watching you may understand it. The character is never again put in these type of situations with other characters really but the show itself just uses her as a prop imo

  3. “Half the time people aren’t making a difference between “depicts” and “promotes”. Just because a story includes and element, doesn’t mean it endorses it. ” – This right here could end most of the arguments. An anime depicting an action or an idea does not mean it endorses it. Neither does watching the anime depicting it and enjoying the anime mean the viewer endorses it.

  4. Personally, I think the big issue is that people don’t see the gray areas. There are anime that I enjoy that DEFINITELY have problematic elements, and I can absolutely understand why someone would avoid watching it because it’s a line they don’t want to cross. It’s like, I often agree with other people’s negative assessments and think they’re valid, we just draw the line at different places. Just like there are shows that I won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, but can acknowledge that other people feel differently.
    Like, there are yuri franchises that are TOTALLY inappropriate that I really enjoy, because I end up finding things to relate to deep under the muck. I don’t think it’s wrong that people point out that they have offensive elements, but I do think it’s wrong if the kneejerk reaction is to say that everyone who enjoys them is a big ol homophobe or something lol

    1. You spell grey with an a! Insane!!! That joke worked better in my head. I also enjoy stuff that is…well kind of garbage. I know it. And I would love to have actual discussions about it. Not arguments. It’s anime, there’s nothing to argue about.

  5. I hate that the same hard divisions between people we’ve seen in politics have also been created among fans of entertainment/media. I don’t have a probkem with criticism and debate, but you’re right that no one should take the easy way out by going straight to the emotional kneejerk reaction. Sadly, it seems like those people end up with the most support and fans on social media (though those are some fickle fans, so maybe it’s better to avoid them)

  6. I think an anime is never really sexist or racist unless it really aims to be.

    People can think it is, but no matter how much they quote people, it is never factually correct. People are allowed to be offended but it doesnt mean they are right.

    People should realise being offended is in fact an opinion , I dont like fanservice and sometimes am offended by how they depict lesbians but that doesnt make them wrong, they only are wrong to me.

    We should stop seeing ourselves as the center of the universe and not take ourselves seriously all the time. Offence is a micro level infriction not a macro level

    1. I completely agree with this. However I also enjoy discourse so I don’t mind if people get offended by a notion or idea and want to talk it out. It’s when it devolves into useless mudslinging that it gets to me, and it always does..

      1. I also like discussions and discorrd, I like people to be passionate about their opinion, it shows drive and allows me to gain new insights. However it’s when people think they are factualy right that is no longer possible.

        I partialy blame this on youtube where lot of tubers (not all but some) spin their opions to be some sort of truth,, whoever disagrees should burn in hell because they cant see the truth.

        If someone thinks their opinion is factually right, not only am I of the wrong opinion.. in their eyes I am dillusional , crazy and stupid. They get no insights, because they dont see there is another side to this. So my words will never land making debate pointless.

  7. You’re not crazy, this is a constant frustration for me too, and it happens all over the place. All it ends up doing is poisoning the well for anyone who actually wants to make a valid point, because they get lumped in with the nutcases who give people they disagree with the attack dog treatment.

    Both “sides” of pretty much every argument are to blame in this. No-one wants to listen to anyone else, and everyone seemingly wants to frame their opinions in the most inflammatory way possible.

    1. Thank you! I have always appreciated your willingness to entertain alternative viewpoints I must say.

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