It seems like I can’t go a week without seeing a debate on Gatekeeping in the anime community. I never participate in those debates. Partly because I’m behind on everything and by the time these come to my attention they are already pretty much done. No need to stir a fresh pot. And partly because the arguments go off in some odd directions and it no longer applies to what I want to say.
Lately I read a tweet basically stating that the rise in popularity has had a negative effect on anime. That the quality of it and the community around it was better with a more exclusive fanbase and in essence Gatekeeping is a good thing. (I’m paraphrasing and interpreting – it said anime was better before it became mainstream and all these new people are ruining it. It also said wake up people, Gatekeeping is a good thing) I think the underlying thesis was that Gatekeeping could be considered a form of quality control. This isn’t an isolated sentiment, people do have a tendency to rebel against whatever is most popular but I was still surprised by how many people echoed and embraced the sentiment often taking it much further.
Regardless of general views on Gatekeeping as a concept, it’s not really for me personally. So I figured I would share 5 reasons that explain that.
5) it’s a position that’s too difficult to defend
When you essentially propose that a person or group of people is somehow unfit to be part of a community, like the anime fan community, you usually have to base it on something. I’ve noticed that the classic anime gatekeeper trope usually uses number of anime seen as a measure of worth.
The problem is that I’ve watched a decent number of anime but there are way way more I have not watched. You can probably name 10 shows I have never seen right now without much effort. So by that measure, I would end up throwing myself out of the community. I would be a keyless gatekeeper. That doesn’t sound like fun…
4) It goes against my reasons for being here in the first place
Like a lot of anime bloggers, one of my driving motivations to start a blog in the first place was to find a community to discuss anime with. I think that’s something I have in common with the majority of anime bloggers out there.
It would be silly of me to actively stifle the growth of this community over something random. I’m no angel and certainly there are people I don’t get along with and might interact less with them but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be there. Besides, that has nothing to do with their views or knowledge of anime. If I were to chose my friends that way, I would be mighty lonely.
3) I’m lazy
Gatekeeping requires a whole lot of energy! If you want to go targeted, you have to identify the people that don’t make the cut, a challenge in and of itself, then spend a good deal of time bullying them away. And it can take forever! Some people are stubborn.
If you prefer a general approach. I.e. “we hate mainstream” or “we hate elites” or whatever vague group you decided should be cut. Then you have to put on an actual campaign, shouting your slogans on every platform available in order to sway public opinion.
Those are full time jobs! If I’m not getting paid for it, I just can’t muster that type of investment!
2) I’m too lackadaisical
This goes hand in hand with my previous point but in order to keep your Gatekeeping motivation up and be a convincing while you’re at it, you have to actually care on some level. And boy do I find it hard to care about people’s hyper specific views on entertainment for any extended period of time.
And I’m just no good at taking it either. I lose interest in this type of stuff two tweets in, there’s no way I could keep arguing about who is or isn’t a real fan for **multiple days***. I gotta say, even if most of these people are just teenage trolls trying to kill some of the huge excess of time they have by spreading some minor chaos, it still amazes me that they can have the attention span for it. I clearly do not.
1) I want more anime
The issue with doing something “on principle” or even “just for laughs” is that you might accidentally accomplish something. In the case of Gatekeeping, that something is reducing anime’s overall audience. I don’t think it’s really necessary for me to spell out why this might not be something I want to accomplish. I really enjoy anime. I love how accessible and available it is. I love that the diversity of the audience has made it possible to watch so many different series in so many different genres. This was not the case not so long ago.
And it’s not like the big mainstream popular shows are likely to disappear with a reduced market. It’s gonna be the weird ish I like! Because my tastes tend to be different from popular opinion, I would be really shooting myself in the foot by Gatekeeping!
This was a bit of a useless list. It applies only to me. I wanted to explore the practical reasons that shape my views on Gatekeeping. I would actually love to see the opposite. What are the practical reasons for Gatekeeping. One I can think of is keeping fandoms from getting out of hand? Maybe I’ll try putting a post together as a thought experiment.
In the meantime, do you have any views on Gatekeeping in general? What are your practical motivations?