Not all bloggers are honest blokes, these bastards aren’t. Yeah you got us good. ABC = Asinine Bullshit for Comments. Yeah now I can forgive you wankers. I still feel that my trust in some of you has been betrayed…you know who you are!
So in my last editorial I encountered something I found rather perplexing, bias. Now I am an ignorant bastard who for some reason was put on this earth to be a soldier. Sure my country sends me to college and urges me to get a 4 year degree from an accredited university. However, in the end I come out perhaps a bit wiser, but remain utterly ignorant of the ways of this world. I have few answers and plenty of questions that I hardly ever bother to ask. So I have decided to pose the community a question as to what a blogger’s responsibility is to their readership in regards to bias. It is easy to tout fair and balanced and unbiased as buzz words like they have become in the media, but how does that relate to us the Otakusphere?
The thing I have always presupposed about bias is that as long as you believe in something you will always have it influence your decisions, it can be overt or it can be surreptitious in how one sees the world around them. I believe in the American Dream, so it stands to reason that I have a favorable bias for it. I believe in my job so naturally I should be biased in favor of my profession. I believe in God and that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of man. Though, being somewhat disillusioned with organized religion, I do think at times Jesus died in vain. Therefore I have a pro-God and pro-Jesus bias. I doubt many of us have no core beliefs even that hedonist Stripey has a pro-jealousy bias. I know Impz has an anti-mecha bias. Hinano has an anti-Noe bias, Kabitzin has a pro-Hiromi bias as does Stripey. Ascaloth has an anti-Jun bias. I have a pro-Noe bias. To believe in something or someone is to be biased.
So what of this fair and balanced thing? I for one think that because people normally believe in something that they can never be fully impartial. To even make a post about something implies that one actually cares somewhat about the issue being discussed. To be fair and balanced is to not care about the issue in the first place. Sure we can pretend to be fair and balanced, but can we turn off our own sense of morality off on a whim? Can a blogger disregard all of his/her preconceived ideas and the things our parent’s or guardians taught us? I have always believed that who we are also defines our personal biases. Perhaps you were raised in a family that was poor; you might therefore be biased against excess. If we cannot ever fully escape our personal biases or discard our beliefs at a moment’s notice then how is it possible for one to be fair and balanced? I do not think such a thing is possible, but I am a cynic. I can no more escape my own cynicism borne out of years of being raised by my mum and years spent in the military, than I can cut off my own head and survive.
I have a pro-Kyon-ko and pro-Itsuko bias.
Yes we would like to be open minded, but if you believe in God then you will probably continue to believe in God unless something major sparks a crisis in faith. To stop believing in something takes much more effort than just telling oneself to be open minded. Sure you can present a whole slew of facts, but your own personal biases will dictate how you will interpret the data. Our own life experiences will color our perceptions of the world around us. If I lived in the deep south of the US I would probably love humidity rather than the Mediterranean climate of my birth. My mum is a bigot, and she taught us about how bad those non-Chinese were, and like any good kid I listened to my mum and I believed her. It took a long time to get over the bigotry she instilled in me, and even now I can still sense that it is still there even if it is a faint whisper in the back of my mind.
To be sure there is an obligation to be as unbiased as possible when doing a serious editorial, but I doubt that is the case in an episodic post. There is also something to be said for being very clear, hence why mein boss thinks me a great big idiot… (see below). If I have to break down he definition of moe every time I did a True Tears post I will go freaking mad. So yeah a serious editorial about something warrants some more critical thinking, but for a episode summary I doubt we often break out the serious cap and go in depth about how Mako-cakes has broken the anime blogosphere by looking at a discarded box of clothing. I had thought the interpreting fiction part of the post would have been a clear indicator that I speak only of episode summaries and impression posts. Though this bit of miss-communication below aptly proves my point, we are all prone to misinterpretations and outright stupidity. Not even Impz and his 35 PhDs will ever guarantee that he will ever be perfect. Besides journalists are scum who give away valuable information to the enemy…
What ever is going on here I am all for it.
The other thing that I do not quite understand how being biased and not fair and balanced when discussing fiction (Episode Summaries, Impressions, i.e. NOT EDITORIALS) is harmful. I was under the impression that fiction is open to interpretation and that whatever view we have on a piece of fiction is valid. I do not suppose that there is no one true interpretation. I have never thought of bloggers as being defenders of truth and have long supposed that the majority of what we post (again episode summaries) is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but rather our own interpretations of our favorite series. We can either agree or disagree with a person’s view point but so long as were are here interpreting fiction there will never be one right answer or one right view point. So if it is hard if not impossible to escape one’s own biases and beliefs then what do we bloggers owe our readers? I guess we can start by admitting a few of our own faults and some of our biases.
After reading Crusader’s views on bias, I am deeply troubled. I have been trained as a journalist in my school, and one of the key things that we take note of is personal bias. I will accept his view point that personal bias always plays a part in our decision making, be it blogging, pictures or sentence flow. We are all human, and we have that instinct to generalize. Yet, giving just one side of the coin does not provide a full rounded picture of the whole situation. No one will profess to have total neutrality. We should strive toward a certain modicum of detachment from their own personal biases in our articles. All this is for the grand idealistic purpose of objectivity.
I am also pro-Soma, and pro-blogging under the influence.
You might ask: Why do we need objectivity and the reduction of biased reporting in anime blogging?
In anime episodic impressions, bias is not that problematic because it is more about interpretations (the personal view is important) than giving a well rounded discussion. However, on anime editorials, a well rounded discussion is required. What is the point of presenting your own view while ignoring other legitimate view points (that you cannot agree or even consider to be true)? An editorial’s aim is to address an issue, and issues are often more well rounded than a d20.
I also cannot agree that there is no need for responsibility in a blog. You might argue that the blog is not a place for news, but for opinions. I cannot disagree but opinions have to be covering at least the major sides in an argument in order to be critical and accurate. If you cannot paint an accurate view, how do you expect to convince the dissenters? If you do not understand the other side’s arguments and put it in an objective light, how can you gain a better understanding of the situation? If you do not argue on both sides of a coin, what kind of credibility do you possess?
Edit (i.e. what Impz wrote after we had a second pow wow): In the end, I realize I went way off the tangent since Crusader is talking about anime summaries. Nonetheless, I do not deny my bias. I like Noe more than Hiromi. I dislike mecha and shounen. I lap up shoujo like a fanboy. However, when I describe about things, I am objective enough to get rid of my personal bias. I did think that Macross Frontier is ok (no one disclose the fact that there’s a green hair loli).
I also support being broken by Kana and Touma and Mako-cakes’ weirdly intriguing relationship.
I might was well start by revealing the majority of my own faults. I am known as Crusader, and like those bastards of the Christian Crusades that brought death and ruin to the holy land in a war of faith I am not a nice bloke. I have convictions of my own and am fanatically devoted to my own sense of right and wrong. I am also ignorant and evil to boot. I have no heart and have zero tolerance for the emo, the jealous, and the perpetually stupid. Such people I would sooner stab in the face with a rusty bayonet than waste a bullet to end their miserable existence. I am utterly dedicated to being a soldier because I believe God created me for that purpose. I am overly aggressive and prone to violence as a means to solve problems in the simplest way possible even if I am fully aware that it is never the best solution. I am not the holder of any truths and all of my posts are always affected by my own biases. I am not fair or balanced. I am an ignorant bastard whose only hope of intelligence is to be a blockhead that makes one cutting remark to prove some wannabe intelligentsia that he/she is but a child. I use curses and a sprinkling of German terms because that is part of the language I use. Not a day goes by when I do not say “Fuck” at least once, though usually 10 times minimum. I don’t believe in my own ability to ever fully negate personal biases so I don’t ever declare anything I write free of bias because it will surreptitiously infiltrate its way in regardless. If there is even a 0.0000000001% chance of bias then I can not claim to be unbiased. I heap shame upon my parents because I enlisted and being a soldier was a far cry from doctor or lawyer and my income is way below the six figures they wanted to see. I am working on a BS in Microbiology and coupled with a violent streak I plan on creating plague on all your mouses. I am broken by Kana and get very confused whenever Mako-cakes appears on my screen. I believe that Noe is Moe, that Haruhi-sama will return to us one day, and that Impz is indeed a green haired loli trap. I am an otaku and horribly flawed and far from perfect. I also tend to be sarcastic and have a tendency to over exaggerate.
Impz talks of credibility but at the end of the day, we are all pretty much strangers in the real world. Despite the Warlord Class of bloggers there is no one blogger’s who view on something is final or absolute. Anonymity can make us assholes, but it also makes us all equal, equally worthless. I think that unbiased editorials have a place, but we still have to keep in mind we are still discussing fiction for the most part. The day we start taking things too seriously we will end up like Francis. Who is Francis? Well here is a clip…
So kamraden bloggers and commenters are you biased as well? Or perhaps you are one of the few fair and balanced folks out there in regards to episode summaries? What is your perception of bias? Is every blog episodic post the gold standard for truth in an age of disinformation or is it that most posts are merely opinions formulated by a blogger? Are episode summaries supposed to be treated like editorials?