Written by TheBigN
This is sort of a continuation from my last installment in this category from my experience at the D.C. Sakura Matsuri. As you recall, I immediately criticized in my mind the actions of some participants during a cosplay contest for what I thought was no good reason. And I had mentioned that at the time I was thinking that as anime fans, we represent anime culture to the rest of “society” (a fun concept to be sure). So the “logical” conclusion I had was that because these cosplayers weren’t acting “normal” in regards to society, moral scruples, or whatever kinds of standards most of us agree abide by, they were demonstrating to people that anime culture isn’t normal. Therefore anime would not be perceived as normal and “those” fans end up making it harder for the medium to have “mainstream acceptance”, whatever the hell that is. Not the best train of thought there, as you can see, and I’m still a little ashamed at myself for that unfounded rationale.
Yet when I think about it, thinking about the worst possible scenario as the most likely option seems to be common from what I’ve seen from fellow anime fans. The example I listed seems to be stated a lot, where fans that are a bit overzealous compared to “everyone else” tend to be singled out in this manner. But other situations abound that follow this trend. Fansubs being the main reason why the anime industry is apparently going down the tubes, not to mention the closing down of anime distribution companies like Geneon USA making a big contribution as well. Shows like Kanokon or Kodomo no Jikan, not even mentioning hentai (or the “Dark Side” of anime) possibly being used as “Exhibit A”s on why anime isn’t a good thing. The slippery slope argument tends to be used in different ways by many different people including myself, as if anime fans are a gloom and doom prophesying bunch.
I do wonder why many of us seem to believe that things will go to hell in a hand-basket so quickly with anime. One reason seems to feed back into that desire I mentioned earlier of wanting the medium to be acknowledged as something that’s alright to indulge in from the mainstream. That probably goes into the whole “Anime is from Japan = different” situation making it harder for that acceptance to occur, but I can’t claim to know if that has any bearing on this desire at all. I also wouldn’t say that it’s a struggle to get a broad approval for anime outside of its fandom, as I know of others that don’t mind remaining in the niche we’re currently in. But there’s a definite effort to show off the best that we feel can be offered to everyone, which I feel is a natural response to demonstrating what you like.
I get the impression from blogs, forums, IRC and the like that some fans feel like if we’ve managed to make a connection to the general public and present a positive image of anime at all, that connection is flimsy at best. I can see a strong worry, and I have that worry myself, that the least “desirable” aspects of anime will destroy how things have been built up, making the situation even worse than before. Or there isn’t enough anime out there that can reach a mainstream audience, despite the efforts of things like Adult Swim out there, and that also makes the relationship weaker. Or it could be something else entirely, and the combination of these and other factors are what lead to a less than optimal result. From that, we might get some of the negativity and a little desperation that I see in the fan culture today, but it’s only one example and I’m sure others can provide better explanations for that sort of thing.
One thing I do know is that it leads to a lot of what I consider to be irrational and misguided anger and worry on other elements of the fan culture. There seems to be a lot of the “this is why we can’t have nice things/you’re ruining stuff for us” irritation taken out on things like cosplayers acting silly, or on shows that have fanservice for the sake of fanservice, for example. And the hubbub over things like the moe boom (which seems to apparently be slowing down), or acting as if these “problems” don’t exist feel more overblown than they should be a lot of the time. Are things like that really ruining things for the rest of us, and how would they be doing that? Sure, those things can be embarrassing to us, but I feel like we’re using them as scapegoats as there the most visible parts of what we don’t like about anime and the culture, especially when we probably aren’t even going to deal with those things (watching the shows in question, directly talking to the transgressors, etc.). We place the blame on them for the sake of pointing fingers, and maybe to externalize our palpable fears and worries about everything that we enjoy crashing down in an instant. Should things really be that SERIOUS BUSINESS? Is bashing stuff that we aren’t going to bother with otherwise the right thing to do? Are we really that insecure about how strong anime is? I’d like to hope not.
Granted, I’m just a blogger standing on a soapbox that probably doesn’t need to be there, I’m probably being hypocritical by complaining about the complainers without doing anything about it, and I’m probably not the best person to be talking about it. But those thoughts have been something that’s been bothering me for a bit, and it’s always good to get what ails you off of your shoulder, lest that dirt on your shoulder becomes an unnecessary chip. And I do think that we all need to cool off every once in a while, less we might end up causing the downfall of anime ourselves. And if that isn’t a poor slippery slope argument waiting to happen, I don’t know what is. 😛