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.
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.
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.
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.