The statement in the title should not be surprising. If it is, there is something wrong with you.
But of course, I bring up this topic because the mentioned statement has a very specific context. And this context disgusts me. Not the LGBTQ+ hate, not the edge lords. Everything about this politicization of anime disgusts me. Politics isn’t always completely avoidable, but I think the recent drama on Twitter is indicative that everybody is eager to make the anime fandom political in nature. Or maybe it’s just a Twitter thing, which is why I truly feel “exposure exhaustion” (PauseAndSelect) to political messages will be the social network’s downfall.
In the past, discussion forums frequently banned political discussion. The practical dimension of this decision was probably due to the forum moderators’ unwillingness to spend too much time putting out nonsensical fires. But since forum to forum did it almost religiously without real explanation as to why that was leads me to believe a type of knowledge transfer was involved. After all, the internet was built mainly by people that didn’t like dealing with other people: scientists and unsocial, antisocial, and military types. I will go out on a limb here and extend what Azuma Hiroki said about mid 80’s Japanese otaku, that the internet, and by extension the early online anime community was run by people that were expressly apolitical. Which is another form of politics, but please spare me the lecture on this one.
Somebody Tweeted this out …
… and got massively misunderstood. Even 15 years ago when I started as a fan, honestly we all knew that a bunch of weirdos watch anime, so it was no surprise to hear “gay people” and other types, which are these days roughly grouped under the LGBTQ+ tag, were present in the hobby. Nobody cared about them. We wanted to watch and discuss anime, with everybody. That was about it.
But perhaps you believe politics is inseparable from social interaction and thusly fandom. Perhaps the same goes for anime and their creators. But there’s a reason some of us watch anime and despise these “discussions”, which I will dare say aren’t really discussions but rather propaganda with fascist elements, from both sides.
I want anime and related Japanese media and genres to remain bastions of relatively large freedoms of expression. Everytime Western politics got involved something bad happened to this ecosystem. The politicization of fandom eventually transfers to the politicization of anime creation. Just look at Hollywood. Anime aren’t exactly free of politics, but they are much better at this than most content available in English that’s out there. I can’t exactly say “take this shit elsewhere” – I want to, but it’s not a realistic wish – because the people and companies enjoying these types of discussions are simply too eager to care. They want the anime fandom to fit their worldview, their rights, their selfish desires. In terms of value judgements, they are the same to me. They are slowly changing a fandom that used to be apolitical, but is now so steep in politics that distribution companies tweet this shit out on their official Twitter accounts. Does Japan do that? They do, and after the shitstorm they delete the Tweets and apologize. Because they know being apolitical is sometimes good for business. Because being apolitical assures that the widest possible group of people (EVERYONE) will check out their offerings and spend money. Because an apolitical ecosystem these days would be an oasis in this world of radical politicization of everything.
A practical advice for politically exhausted people like me is something I advised other people suffering from fandom burnout: Drop the fandom bullshit. Focus on actually watching anime. It would do us all good to remind ourselves that anime fandom is its own separate thing aside from anime. Twitter has run out of its course, at least for me. Even the people that I follow and think are cool guys for the work they contribute to this hobby I have to mute sometimes, because their political signalling is too distracting or too heavy-handed and makes me want to argue with them. I’m sure somebody thinks the same of my tweets. So to be the change that I want to see in this world, I guess it’s time for big changes to my communication.
Because anime is for everyone, always has been. It’s also for asocial pricks like myself that sometimes care more for Japanese cartoons than the wellbeing of their fellow human beings.