Thursday, May 31, 2012

Representing Our Fandom: A Rant

Let's step back and take a look at our odd little fandom for a minute. We're an interesting bunch, no doubt; lovers of moe and various 'deres, Mystery and Comedy, Shonen battle anime and tear-wretching love stories, all united underneath the giant banner of Team Dai Gurren Japanese Animation Fandom. We congregate in sweaty convention halls and brave the stench brought by those that must be oblivious to the monstrosity brewing in the primordial ooze that is their armpits, all to dress in elaborate costumes and mingle with other fans, regardless of whether or not their preferences are even similar to our own. Overall,  it can be a very close and loving fandom (let's ignore the fact that is is probably because of social ineptitude in their daily lives), full of people that just want to have a good time, and are good at doing so.

Starscream is on a strict diet of down and synthetic
pillow stuffing fibers. 
Everybody knows that there is a social stigma associated with being a part of all of this, and we're well aware that the socially inept and awkward are definitely abundant among our ranks. Despite the stigmata, I'm happy to be part of the fandom. I'm happy to watch nerds and nerdettes leave their forums, come out of their social cocoons, and dive costume first into a room of 100,000 other fans dancing the Hare Hare Yukai.

But something popped up on the internet today, and it has brought some resentment to the forefront of my mind. It was a picture of a guy with his Dakimakura tucked neatly into his bed, with a freshly made tray of breakfast foods sitting on top of "her". To each his own, I think, but as I read through the thread it turns out that the guy is insisting that "she" ate every last bite.



To be fair, there's a large chance that the guy was joking, but there's also a chance that he has devoted his love and emotions to a polysynthetic blend of fabric out of desperation or social anxiety. If that's what floats your boat, that's fine, I can appreciate the fact that you are doing what you want to do. But I'm a strong believer in the fact that certain parts of the fandom need to stay behind closed doors; instead they are dragged out into the open by overzealous fans who try to smother others with their weeaboo-dom.

*Good news, you can get your official chastity belt
with your choice of village symbol. 
How many of you have seen an anime fan walking around in public with his officially licensed chastity belt*? How about a smelly fan with greasy hair, decked out in anime related buttons, babbling about how much he loves Pocky and using Japanese words at ever opportunity (Because, like, sometimes you just can't express how cute something is without using Kawaii~~Desu!)? These are the fans that are representing the thing that we know and love; they're the ones that come to mind when you tell somebody that you are a fan, not the rest of the well-adjusted fandom.

And that's ultimately my problem with the whole situation. Out of the thousands that own an "extreme" piece of the fandom only a few decide to flaunt that aspect of their fandom, and those few tend to be past the line of extremity. They've single-handedly turned parts of the fandom into objects that represent loneliness, social ineptitude, or a pathetic sense of delusion.

Don't try to play it off as a decoration, you know
it's intended purpose.
Take the Dakimakura, an object that was bred for the sole purpose of turning an anime character into a 3D hugging object (I'm being generous here by calling it a "hugging" object). On it's surface, it represents a kind of sexual gratification that is being sought by the owner; It's not simply a pillow with a  cool character on it, it's a character in a lusty position, and whose artist forgot to draw a few articles of clothing on them. It's not an object that I want outsiders of the fandom to see because of the frustrating conclusions that they will inevitably draw about the entire fandom, not the select few that have and use Dakimakura in unnatural ways.

What's worse is that these outsiders won't just see a Dakimakura and draw these conclusions, they will likely be introduced to the subject by seeing somebody that has taken their fandom to the extreme. They'll see the guy feeding his pillow, or the famous picture of a room of otaku who are babying their pillows, and that stigma will be cemented in their mind.

This is what comes up first with a quick search of
"Anime Mousepad"
And it's not just body pillows, not in the least. It's boobed mousepads, naked figurines, and lusty wallscrolls that cast a negative light on the entire fandom, and that's just taking merchandise into account. It's bad enough that our fandom is depicted in the way that it is; we don't need these negative stereotypes pushing us from being adults watching "cartoons" to socially inept perverts.

The thing is, it just takes one fan to poison the normal world around him into believing such hurtful stereotypes apply to the entire fandom. One obnoxious kid wearing a Naruto headband or an Akatsuki costume in the middle of a high school is enough to change the minds of all of the non fans around him, while forcing the fans around him into an intense shame of loving what they do. Because the idea of anime fandom is so foreign to some people, the idea that one fan has poured his love and devotion into a pillow quickly turns into a reflection of the entire anime fandom, despite the fact that kind of correlation is like drawing a link between all DVD collectors and sex-doll ownership, because one guy happens to do both.

Now I don't think that anybody should necessarily hide their fandom, but I think that we all need to be vigilant about how we represent ourselves. If we ever want to get away from the god-awful stereotypes that have been instilled by corrosive fans, then we need to exemplify the mature majority of the fandom, rather than the vocal immature minority. Buy your Dakimakura if you really want one, but don't go and flaunt it; some things need to be kept between you and your house. Don't babble on to a non-fan about how you think your waifu acts or thinks like a real person does, because everything that you do is reflecting on the rest of us, and nothing I can do can change the mind of somebody that is dead-set on thinking that all anime fans are social retards who have to cling to female anime characters rather than seek out a real relationship.

So go represent the mature part of the fandom! Go and discuss Cowboy Bebop or Deadman Wonderland with a group of mature anime fans. Maybe turn off the ecchi or stash the pillow when a non-fan comes over, because nobody wants to see that ridiculously awkward statue of naked Nami in the doggy-style position, no matter how proud you think you are of it. Don't hide your fandom, but don't flaunt it to strangers either; normal people hate hearing about your fandom just as much as you hate having to sit through somebody babble on about their favorite sports team. Above all else, conduct yourself like a normal functioning member of society, not some disheveled teenager that spends his nights whacking it to cartoon boobs.

And for the love of god, shower and groom yourselves, ya stinky Otaku!

3 comments:

  1. Alright... you've convinced me.

    I'll go shower now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think a lot of this holds true for subculture and entertainment in general. It's fine to like something, but there's a thin line between liking something and turning that affinity into an unnatural obsession.

    ReplyDelete