My Delusions As A Fanboy: Got Your (Scape)Goat Handy?

By TheBigN

Despite me getting annoyed by the end of Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (mainly just execution problems, and that might be another story), there are still plenty of moments that made me feel glad that I actually took time to watch the series.  One specific moment came during episode 7, one of the episodes that many I read on the internet regard as one of the show’s best. In that moment Yuuto confronts Haruka’s father for denouncing her hobby without knowing anything about it. Noting that the love and passion that Haruka has for things like anime, manga and their corresponding culture are comparable to the feelings that other people have for their own hobbies, Yuuto points out how strange it is that (in this case) Akiba-kei are shunned by everyone else despite those similarities.  “Isn’t that just too weird?” he asks, and while that question is never answered (part of my annoyance :P), it did raise up something that comes to my mind every once in a while.

She did not have to kill him, did she?

She did not have to kill him, did she?

The use of the scapegoat is one of the things that bugs me in anime. I can’t stand how in a lot of shows anything that goes wrong or is undesirable tends to be blamed on a specific person or subset of people.  The concept is useful to set up a character as comic relief, someone who triumphs over the odds, someone who you feel pity for their predicaments, and so on. But as Yuuto points out, the rationale behind it doesn’t make complete sense, where the idea seems to be catharsis for everyone else by placing unnecessary burden or suffering on a few. The feelings behind it and the feelings I believe that I’m supposed to get from it don’t sit well for me, and I feel like they’re not supposed to. But it’s interesting to see how much is there in anime and in anime culture.

A quick and dirty example that comes to my mind is Youhei Sunohara from CLANNAD. In his case, it’s played for laughs, and to be frank, he deserves plenty of the blame and pain that he gets throughout the course of an episode, and it does work to great effect when it occurs because of Tomoya manipulating him, or him feeling the wrath of Tomoyo or Kyou. But it quickly loses its effectiveness when I feel like all troubles are relegated solely to him. In the case of the baseball game in episode one of After Story, when he was piled on by Misae, Tomoyo and Kyou whenever he failed at batting as if all of the teams troubles where his fault, I was pissed.  I admit I have some fondness for the underdogs, and the situation is supposed to be funny, but I just wish that the punishment fit the problem, especially because there were some problems with other members of the team as well, as epic as they were (Yoshino is GAR). There’s also the feeling that I’m doing something wrong if I find enjoyment Sunohara’s trouble overkill that nags me. Yes, I do worry too much about these sort of things (Why so serious? Indeed). 😛

Like hitting someone when they are already down.

Like hitting someone when they are already down.

This sort of thing, while not to the extent done in anime (cause, you know, it’s not real), is still prevalent in the anime culture as well. Like the flack that groups of people get such as “Narutards”, people under 17 at conventions, fans of moe/just cute stuff, fansubbers, elitists, Crunchyroll (that’s probably until just recently, considering what they’re doing now), ANN, animebloggers, etc. There can be blame to go around, but often times it feels like there’s more blame created than there actually is (drama can do that), flinging from one group to another, as even the more “besieged” groups tend to do it to each other and the groups that besiege them. Like in anime, it can be funny to see as well, since people can take themselves and others too seriously at times. But again, I feel wrong and hypocritical to do so, especially since I’ve assigned blame unfairly myself (hell, I know I still do it ;_;) and have felt like I’ve been unfairly blamed by others as well.

It isn’t that we all share the fault, since I feel that’s a moot point (probably because I feel we all do anyway), nor is it a matter in terms of who deserves the most compared to others. But by finding a scapegoat handy, I feel like we end up avoiding and missing too much of the issue at hand by forcing in onto someone else (and you can say I’m doing it again here :D). And I also believe that we just end up dividing and conquering each other unnecessarily in the process, but I’m not saying we should all kiss and make up either (competition is good for the soul… when it’s arbitrarily fair :P). I don’t usually see people stop and pull a Yuuto (one of his better moments to me), and indeed, it might be beneficial not to wonder about why things are they way they are (you can’t handle the truth, the truth is too complicated, and all of that), yet I figure doing it useful in some capacity. The thought there is my belief that at least thinking things through some more can help things out. There’s no expectation of people suddenly seeing the light or anything like that, but I do have hope that people can look at things differently. Hell, they might even see things from the other side; I mean, Sunohara (or Charlie Brown) can’t always be a loser, can he?

Unlikely people become comrades all the time.

Unlikely people become comrades all the time.

9 Responses to “My Delusions As A Fanboy: Got Your (Scape)Goat Handy?”

  1. 1 Yamcha November 17, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Ah BigN, you’ll always be my scapegoat when something bad happens. 😉

    It’s ironic how humans band together for a common cause when they use scapegoats, usually a minority party or person.

    In the case of Sunohara, the ragtag baseball team had a common link in punishing Sunohara for things that were out of his control. We see that normal people band together to make fun of otaku in Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu as Nobunaga and Haruka were subjected to taunting for their otaku/akibakei lifestyles. Moving on to darker use of the scapegoat, there are way too many historical instances of minority groups persecuted as scapegoats.

    Bah, I should stop before this comment turns into a rant. Mob mentality. A person is smart but people are stupid. you get the drill. Call me a pessimist but history usually proves my point.

  2. 2 daniellizik November 18, 2008 at 12:04 am

    I guess in larger society the scapegoat is assigned through “conventional” means. I guess “conventional” would be very established methods of marginalization, like class. Why is our economy crappy? Because of those damn lazy illegal immigrants that can’t get off their asses (etc.).

    But in the internet, there aren’t such blatant means of social stratification. There is no real “economy”, so we have to rely on things like intelligence or social products (fansubs, databases, blogs, etc.) to backup our positions. The interesting thing is that, as digitalized personas that simply exist as fictive 0’s and 1’s, we’re all the same (as in real life too), and so we have to somehow manifest ourselves in some kind of tangible way, maybe through website aesthetics or something else, in order to acknowledge the “significance” of our existence/identity and subscribe to the political economy at hand that produces and allocates power or “franchisement”. [if you have a blog but no readers, you, in practice, don’t exist and have no power/voice/agency.]

    I guess all of that is one reason why narutards/weeaboos are looked down upon by the blogging “intelligentsia” (blogosphere).

  3. 3 ghostlightning November 18, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Human beings have very powerful survival drives: one is to dominate others, the other is to avoid domination.

    And responsibility is often read by humans as a form of domination inflicted upon them by others. This is why when things go bad, few people welcome the idea of taking responsibility for the result. Goat-scaping is a convenient way to avoid responsibility altogether.

    This fulfills the 2 survival drives: domination is avoided, and others are dominated.

    Taiga lashes out at Ryuji beyond logic, as if he’s the one responsible for her circumstances.

  4. 4 mangatoread November 18, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Looks cool blog to follow..
    Honestly I don’t know about Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu ..
    Maybe I’ll get more info after this

  5. 5 TheBigN November 18, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Yamcha: It’s that “divide and conquer” mentality that I talk about, though when I say that, I guess it implies that there’s someone pulling the strings before that.

    daniellizik: I’m not really getting how that argument ties in with the weaboo/narutard argument, since I’ve seen examples of people who’ve found their voices as bloggers that belong to this group.

    ghostlightning: Seeing responsibility as a form of domination seems to me more like people who feel that any sort of adversity, percieved or not, thrust upon them fits that sort of criteria. And I find that a silly way of looking at things.

    In the case of Toradora, it helps that Ryuji does “fight back” in his own ways, and Taiga doesn’t blame him for everything wrong, nor does she attack him at every opportunity like other characters would. Which is good.

  6. 6 otou-san November 20, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    But by finding a scapegoat handy, I feel like we end up avoiding and missing too much of the issue at hand by forcing in onto someone else

    That’s the crux, really. Finding a scapegoat has never actually solved a problem for real. Just makes people satisfied that they’ve reached an easier conclusion than the real one, which probably takes effort and understanding to get to.

  7. 7 jenn November 27, 2008 at 12:59 am

    Hmm. I never knew animebloggers and fansubbers drew flak. ._. I especially respect fansubbers cos it’s not easy bring shiny subs to us.

    Sunohara does deserve it a lot of the time, and I think I missed that ep (Accidentally skipped one), but yeah…I’ve seen a lot worse in things like America’s Funniest Home Videos; which, a lot of the time, just seem like people laughing at other people getting hurt. Not really the same thing as making them scapegoats, but meh.

    Poor Alice, though. She got bished! XD

  8. 8 ETERNAL November 27, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    ^ If I had to guess I’d say that fansubbers are accused of low-quality subs and anibloggers are accused of being elitist, but I haven’t heard many complaints either way. Most of the hate seems to be focused on the various categories of n00bs >_>

    But to put it simply, I might as well just say “what ghostlightning said”. It’s in human psychology to defend ourselves by placing the blame on others, and that’s probably the root of the problem in real life. As for anime…well, maybe it’s just a bit more convenient for the writers to use people like Sunohara as a scapegoat? It’s certainly a possibility when we’re talking about stories that aren’t meant to be over-thought to begin with.

  9. 9 Hope October 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I hate the way they treat Youhei. Their treatment of him turned me off of the series for a long while. He’s their sadistic torture object for absolutely NO reason. He definitely did NOT deserve it Jenn, and he should’ve totally been the main character. I always get scared when I see him because I just know something bad’s going to happen to him. The worst part is that the girls do it to him because their girls! They know they can get away with physical abuse. Just one punch will knock them down to size. I hate that show, but I like Youhei. :/

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