Frog’s been writing some stuff regarding how just because he likes to ogle 2D girls doesn’t mean he’s a sexist pig. Whilst I’ve never truly thought he was as much of a slimeball in real life as he is on the Internet, I think he’s overthinking things in regards to something that’s been around long before anime was really a thing. I mean have you seen the stuff on Adult Swim, dude? Granted they’re terrible, but still…
Now I’m in no way a feminist. I support women getting equal rights and am disdainful of those godawful men’s right activists whose logic is so bad it makes the Twilight fandom look like Adventure Time’s, but it’s mostly all in my head. I don’t actively contribute to any organizations or participate in any protests. I’m of the opinion that to be a feminist requires being proactive in that pursuit, and…yeah I’m a guy who watches cartoons that sexualizes animated teenagers – mostly female ones too. And if you go into my movie hobby, there are a ton of films I enjoy that have the woman showing her nips and succumbing to a man’s charm for one reason or another. If you asked me whether I’d want that stuff to go away, I would slap you on the head with my socks.
To be fair to the movie industry, they mostly sexualize adult women. And when it goes into teen territory like with American Pie or Road Trip, they’re obviously being played by young adults. And most of those teen movies suck. But that’s a different issue entirely.
As you readers know, my favorite genre of all-time is exploitation. Whilst I’d like to pretend that the cannibal side of things doesn’t exist, I like me some carsploitation, blaxsploitation, and what I’ve seen of Nazisploitation. Action films – particularly martial arts ones – are practically my favorite subgenre within the field. Does that mean I want to see violence – or the other commonalities of what makes those ‘sploitation’ films click – become a common thing in real life? I don’t even want to hold a gun in real life, because they are terrible things that kill people. But in the fictional world, where there’s a clear unbreakable barrier that’s separating me from it, that sort of stuff is fucking awesome. Same with seeing women showing off their skin to the camera. And Toontown. I mean have you seen how much of an asshole all of your favorite cartoons are in Roger Rabbit? No way would any sane person want to live there.
Now let me make it clear, just because that barrier exists doesn’t mean it’s impenetrable. And when it’s penetrated, severe implications and things can happen. There’s a difference between a rape scene in something like A Clockwork Orange/Strange Days and something like Mangaka-san. Similar to how I can forgive the n-word if it’s being used in a way that’s funny, you can only get away with sex and violence if your story is good. Most of all, it shouldn’t glorify the act. Strange Days, for example, showed us the assault of a woman in full detail because we were viewing it from the antagonist’s perspective. Why? Because the protagonist was using a device that allows him to experience other people’s feelings and emotions, and he was using it to find the killer. You could argue that we didn’t need to see the whole thing to get the full impact, and that is true, but nevertheless I thought the scene was good in a brutal sort of fashion with no glorification in sight. Mangaka-san, on the other hand, seems to think rape is a punchline. Uh, no. Rape can be an element of a punchline, but it cannot be a punchline. To describe why would be like to trying describe why bananas are yellow, so please don’t make me go there.
In terms of violence, we’ve got Reservoir Dogs and The Boondock Saints. One of them is about a bunch of gangsters comedically getting screwed in violent ways. The other is a movie about serial killers that glorifies their actions and tosses in half-hearted “what is morality” crap just so that the action can continue. If you don’t know which is which, along with which one I absolutely love along with which one I actively hate, I do not want to know you.
The barrier works both ways too. I like my life. Do I want to watch a movie about it? Hell no. Because as flawed as the barrier is, the fact of the matter is that you’re not actually experiencing what happens on screen because movies/anime/TV shows are not video games. Your decisions about what should happen in them is less effective than what you do in a typical JRPG. I’m sure in real life, I’d like to hang out with the K-ON! girls (well, maybe not Yui. How can someone so dumb exist?), but that doesn’t mean I want to just see them eat cake all day. Likewise with the war drama side of things. I know in real life that war is bad and soldier life sucks and whatnot. Do I want to see a movie about it? Why would I want to watch a film where the ultimate point is something I knew before I hit first grade and has nothing to replace it with? Don’t even get me started on teenage angst/romance stories. I never liked that part of my life growing up, so why the hell would I want to see other people doing it?
Oh, and it also works both ways in that similar how I can’t stand stuff that glorifies sex and violence, I’m equally disdainful of stuff that’s against it. Fuck you Lord of War and your anti-weapon propaganda! Go die in a ditch!
I love this barrier, flaws and all. And the best thing about it is that it will never be truly penetrable and continue to exist for eternity. Unless reality suddenly turns into a Cronenberg film. In which case, I’ll be as screwed as James Wood was in Videodrome.
PS: I’m not going to bother commenting on the second portion of Frog’s thing, as that focuses more on the die-hard side of the anime fandom and the sexism that pervades it, and unfortunately that barrier I so love prevents me from relating to said side. They’re just cartoons, peopl…