Why can’t we just relax and be friends sometimes
Owen S, or of Cruel Angel Theses (with a new spanking site by the way), has asked of me to do an entry regarding the state of anime elitism in the community. To note first, Owen S is a self proclaimed anime elitist, and enjoys the notion of being one. Before I start on any argument, I would first justify my position by defining what it means by “Elitism”.
Elitism is the belief or attitude that those individuals who are considered members of the elite — a select group of people with outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight; whose views and/or actions are mostly likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern.
Now the definition is done for the general meaning of elitism, let me not go to long debates before telling you my opinion of this. Any form of elitism is an act of superiority and ignorance, and should be condemned. The form of discrimination, even in a medium of anime, should never be allowed to exist. I am never that strong in my opinion on anything due to my decently peace-loving nature, but this is hitting on a rather sore point of mine, so do not expect me to be nice on this topic.
To list it out, how this anime elitism can be interpreted to me can be of many forms
1. The ideology that an anime genre type is better than another (e.g. slice of life better than harem)
2. The ideology that certain anime fans are better than others (e.g. Serial Experiment Lain fans better than Naruto fans)
3. That certain people have a better taste of anime as opinion leaders of a community compared to others. (RandomC and Riuva)
4. Dubbed series are much worse than Subbed/Japanese series.
5. Old school (NGE, Akira) is better than the new anime on hand.
Due to space and TL;DR constraints, I will merely focus on the first point. Point four and five have been run so much by others that it is boring and ridiculous for me to deal with it anymore. Point two and three will be somewhat linked to the first point, but opinion leaders of the anime community is a situation that will soon arise with the growth of the online community. I might cover it in a small point later but my main qualm is on the first point.
I apologize for being a bit more serious than usual ahead of time.
So, what does it mean to be an anime elitist?
A classic example by anime elitists to be a “good” anime. I never understood it
In my opinion, there is one main sign of an anime elitist. They tend to consider a certain form of genre much better than another, and very importantly enforce that idea onto everyone else. Everyone have preferences in what they watch, but it is perhaps only an anime elitist that will actually say that a certain genre of anime is perhaps inferior to any other genre. It is like how those people who are in the art stream considering popular movies to be of low brow, and of inferior taste.
Who defines low and high culture? The elitists themselves. They want themselves to be the opinion leaders, even though the majority of the population probably disagrees with them but the general public are assumed to have 0 knowledge in the (“Don’t know what the hell they are talking about“) Appreciation skill. Anime elitists also have a point of berating anyone that goes against those values, and insist on a certain anime being the best. Any other anime will be shot down almost painfully without a bat of an eyelid. That is perhaps my common man personality and status against this notion that some people just have a better taste than others. It is almost saying that if an anime blog’s writer has tons of readers and comments and popularity, that means he/she has better taste than others. That, to me, is absolute rubbish.
I do not deny that opinion leaders are important to guide the unadvised crowd but elitism is perhaps a form of perverse behavior when they think that they are superior than the common man. Common forms of elitism, some with certain grounds, include the consideration of harem anime to be inferior compared to more art form/deep thinking series. Another perhaps common notion is the shounen/shoujo series being a bit too fluffy for “proper” anime watchers.
So, is that really true that anime fans who enjoy shoujo is lame and weak compared to someone who enjoys Ghost in the shell? Does anime elitism have any ground in truth?
Is there really inferiority in a genre/fan?
Anime elitists of genres
This anime lacks the 3Ps. Nuff said.
Using a common notion, it is clear that a genre is never truly a rational view in whether a series is good or bad. It is usually the three Ps that determine whether a series is good, being “Production values”, “Plot depth” and “Personality”. That has nothing to do with any genre. Despite the easy stereotype that all mecha series are inherently bad that is used by me, I actually enjoy quite a few mecha shows such as Zegapain, Macross, Bokurano and others that I cannot remember currently.
Nevertheless, the method of the 3Ps (Personality, plot, production) is just a simple term coined by me to illustrate the main points of how an art form should be. For example, the problem of harems seen as inferior is due to the fact that there is little originality in most of such stories (Plot depth), the personality being run in the mill without much character development (Personality), and the general lack of production values in terms of budget and seiyuu talent (Production values). It is hence nothing to do with the genre but the underlying factors behind it. It is a gross overstatement to allocate the fault to the genre and most elitists often are too blind to their views to notice such a simple fact. Successful series with the 3Ps in the harem genre such as Kanon, AIR, Shuffle! and Negima should make the fact more blatant.
I do not deny that humans, being often myopic and jealously-abound creatures, sometimes tend to allocate certain series as a certain genre and deny to watch it. That, to me, is fine because the fine line of avoiding a genre due to the lack of perceived enjoyment levels is not breached, but the problem with elitists is that they breach that line and outwardly (and ridiculously) consider them as the problem of the genre, rather than the 3Ps. Superficially disguised posts are often used in order to promote their own goals.
No one will call you an elitist when you say something with the 3Ps is better than one, without, since it is clearly a more objective form of discussion of anime on the whole. It is nevertheless subjective in what values are better, but it is at least on firmer ground.
Anime elitists of fans
The root of all hatred by anime elitism, perhaps
The other form of anime elitism that I will discuss, in terms of the fans, is a more questionable topic. Many of you know that I sometimes find Naruto and Bleach fans really annoying. However, it is perhaps inaccurate to assume it as an anime situation. Everyone always complain about Narutards, but that’s simply a problem of having a large audience and widespread acceptance. When you’re sampling from a larger population you’re more likely to find something you’re looking for, which is, in this case, idiots. And the idiots who watch Naruto just tend to be more vocal than others. Anime elitists just cannot help but feel their superior intellect compared to the juveniles who can barely speak proper English.
I also do not have to add that all forms of idiots are abound in the Internet, particularly with those elitists who think that they are way cooler discussing about intellectual verbose on the underlying usage of hedonistic utilitarianism of Bokurano. They are a different kind of idiot but that is not my point.
My point is merely how you define an idiot. That’s all. An arrogant person can be an idiot. A person who cannot spell can be one.
So where does all this bring us? The underlying notion is the human need to feel superior. No one wants to feel like they are weaker than others, and elites in the negative connotation often have a huge inferior complex which makes them needy to prove their worth against others. Do you think that it is the catalyst in the creation of such a person? It’s your take on it.