Author: Gabriel Persechino-Forest Published: March 14th, 2018
In this follow-up article (Phase 1 seen here), I will write about the next phase of this building crisis; which should manifest very soon if previous examples are to be trusted. The building blocks are already in place and the preparation has already begun. We have seen it through articles already demonizing our fanbase for gatekeeping and the media establishment being unhappy with our resistance to change, in this case, change to a less unique a more homogenized medium.
Phase 2: Attack on the Fanbase
Image Source: Promotional material for the series Gate Keepers
We’ve seen it through gamergate, we’ve seen it through comicgate, when the mainstream establishment sets its sights on a medium it always follows through with an attack on the fanbase and its culture. This will be no different and while this phase has yet to fully start, the anime fanbase’s resistance to the mainstream push has forced the establishment’s hands and they have already begun the offensive in the form of accusing us of gatekeeping. They are essentially making the untrue statement that we do not welcome new fans into our hobby. This is apparent in this geek.com article that attacks fans for not being inclusive and already draws parallels to comic books and video-games, hoping to imply that sexism and discrimination are afoot. It is the same pattern of accusing fans of social ills and elitism that we’ve seen before.
Image Source: Screenshot from the series Akiba’s Trip
A similar follow-up article was recently made by Anime Feminist as well. And this comicbook.com article makes similar assertions but adds the fallacy that anime needs to be mainstreamed to be popular, which we have already seen as false over the medium’s rise on the global level since the crash of the mid-2000s. What is interesting about this article are the tweets it chose as examples of reactions to this so called gatekeeping. The first tweet says that anime is a genuine cultural movement but fails to realize that if anime is forced into mainstream it will also be forced to conform to its new mainstream culture. Predictably, many of those tweets also make reference to attacks on female geeks, even though the issue of gender has not been brought up at all by the fanbase; confirming that fans will eventually be attacked for being sexist, just as it was for video game and comic book fans. Even more alarming is the insinuation that current anime fans are primarily male, which is being made by the mainstream media establishment and is a dismissive slant against all the current female fans within the fanbase. Two other articles from Mel Magazine and Vice took the time to insult fans outright by pretty much telling them to stop thinking that they are “normal” now that stars like the medium and that they will always be “freaks” even if “normies” decide to hijack their hobby:
As notable as this development may have been, it wouldn’t necessarily make anime cool for the layperson, the same way that normcore didn’t make sweatpants and Tevas fashionable unless you look exactly like a model and are already invited to all the cool parties. Michael B. Jordan liking anime is cool because Michael B. Jordan is extremely cool; as Miles Klee at Mel Magazine put it, “Become not only rich and famous, but one of the most popular stars in Hollywood, all while remaining grounded and humble, but also really good-looking, and you, too, could be a cool anime fan who lives with their parents.”
If I were to describe an adult man to you by saying “he lives with his parents and loves anime,” you would not picture somebody cool. You would imagine a dude with a Mountain Dew gut and facial hair somewhere between a patchy beard and an unkempt goatee. You would assume that he owns a body pillow with a shapely cartoon character wearing lingerie on it, and that all he needs to do to acquire a baloney sandwich is scream “Mom!!” a few times through his locked bedroom door. Perhaps it’s not fair that we make these assumptions about adult anime (or manga) fans who happen to share a domicile with the people who conceived and raised them, but this is the society we happen to live in.
All of which only helps to perpetuate an ugly stereotype about geeks: That we are fat, neck bearded, socially awkward, sexist, racist losers who live with their parents and have aggressive tendencies toward outsiders. These stereotypes have existed for a long time but had managed to subside over the early 2000s. But with gamergate, comicgate and now the incoming animegate, the mainstream establishment has revived these stereotypes and are once again using them to justify marginalizing us; a rather ironic and utterly disgusting move from those who claim to be progressive and against discrimination.
Image Source: Screenshot from the Magi anime series
What does this mean? Well, we know the drill: Just as with gamergate and comicgate, we can expect our very identity as fans to be attacked and for all of us to be characterized as losers, trolls as well as sexist and racist; unless we decide to agree with everything the mainstream media has to say about our hobby and wilfully surrender our identity and subculture without a fight. Of course, female fans who already enjoy anime will see their opinions dismissed by the mainstream media has they are lumped in with the generalization that current anime fans are only elitist males. This is why we must hit the ground running and defend our hobby; because unlike video game and comic book fans, who were taken by surprise, we know what’s coming.
Source: Article Image: Screenshot of Lucky Star episode 23 from Crunchyroll