27 September 2012

social media replies: a follow-up scrap

The following are comments and dialog opened up via social media, related to last Thursday’s “A Scrap’s Scrap.” I must say, I was completely blown away by the response to the rumination, both here and via Twitter and Facebook. I initially planned to place these in the “comments” section, but I now feel they warrant their own “scrap.” 

This is a discussion I truly believe in. Keep the comments and dialog open. We don’t need walls thrown up between aspects and communities within our fandom. We are all fans. Our method of expression might be different, as are our “goals” with regards to participation, but our motivations are ultimately rooted around a common cause: community. 


Kitsoru: My first thought: boy, I'm glad people don't wear the one same costume all day every day of the con anymore, lol. Gross. 

But I think you're right about there not really being ONE huge series/fandom anymore, though I think the cosplay examples are more examples of the evolution of cosplay culture specifically, not so much the phenomena you're talking about. That I think has more to do with the dissolution of The Anime Con into Internet Culture Cons, pretty much.

gomidog: I'd guess that is partly because of the easy availability of many anime online. Back in the day, choices were more limited.

studyofanime: @Kitsoru I often wonder the same thing. Access to anime does play a part in it, but when compared to Western media fandom, there's a skew.

studyofanime: @Gomidog @kitsoru There's still a difference between SF fans and anime fans, even in the notion of generality v specificity.

gomidog: But what about the cinemaphiles who know a lot about all 
kinds of movies? What of the Renaissance man?

I believe that often to truly appreciate a work you have to have a wide scope of artistic and literary experiences. I also think that some of the most passionate and talented creators fed their ideas with a multitude of different interests.

But an anime fan who likes just Inu Yasha, but is unable to appreciate it within the context of animation or Japanese history

studyofanime: @Gomidog Well, what you're describing falls into two adjoining ideas: appreciation, which requires little "mad devotion." and "inspiration" The Renaissance man was inspired and appreciative, the refined "Jack of all Trades, master of none." Well read, cultured. But rarely were they so passionate in a single thing to devote their energies entirely to it. Draw from it yes.

Even with cinemaphiles, a lot of them has chosen "specialties" within the greater whole. Whereas with anime fandom, I think it's well implied that devotion/focused knowledge is "classically" a defining trait.

gomidog: I would argue said fan is not actually having a deep knowledge. Side knowledge enhances devotion, not distracts.

studyofanime: That is a huge sticking point in discussions of otaku subculture, actually. That degree of specificity is both good/bad.

I can agree that its harder to appreciate x anime without understanding y context, but these days even xy is seemingly too specific

gomidog: so you are saying that today's anime fans are just dilettantes.

studyofanime: From outward appearance, there's a lot of dilettante behavior. Or more accurately, a lot of diluted dilettante behavior. That's one of the prevalent criticisms.

Err...dilettante behaviour influenced by dilution and generality. (Or, superficiality, as Daryl put it.)

gomidog: Regardless, neither dilettantism nor single-minded obsession leads to much in the way of creative work or informed criticism

studyofanime: Nope, but rather a mix of the two. But discovering the correct mix is the challenge.

gomidog: Long story short, nerds gonna nerd, as long as people are having fun, meh?

studyofanime: Yeah, that's how it should be. Having fun is the key.

tehmeangene: @Studyofanime My short response, fans are more concerned in being in the fandom rather than simply being a fan of what they like.

MangaTherapy: Do you think that "generality" will keep anime alive here in the West?

studyofanime: I think what it will ultimately do is keep the community alive, and with that, at least a nascent connection to anime. Regardless of outward opinions, the number of "general" and multifans still profess to enjoy anime, and have no plans to stop. And while appreciation doesn't equal devotion, it also doesn't equal discarding.

MangaTherapy: I totally agree and I do believe that new fans will be drawn in a multitude of ways.

I wonder if fans have accepted the fact that there might possibly never be a hit like DBZ to capture the world again.

studyofanime: I don't think new fans care, since they likely didn't experience the "old days,” while the older fans might grudgingly accept it. But still, today's fans have a lot of "big shows" to choose from.

MangaTherapy: Of course, I accept that the old days might not happen again. Though I wonder what the industry thinks.

studyofanime: Business dictates they should want the good old days to happen, but modern economics/technology will prevent that.


Zak Bunyak-Smith: I found that the "generality" that you spoke of in your article to be a good thing, since I believe that it leaves fewer people to become close-minded toward other venues of this anime otaku subculture.

The generality that I would personally fear, however, would be the lack of any hardcore fans--that someday there might be more and more people who just want a little bit of everything rather than to focus on one or a few specific topics. It may sound hypocritical of me, considering that I just implied that I prefer open-mindedness versus close-mindedness in fandoms, but I find it to be akin to learning more about one's self--who they are and what they themselves are like. If one is TOO general with everything they like, they cannot become passionate about any certain topic; therefore, they become boring and amorphous, so to speak. 

Ultimately, being aware and respecting other fandoms is good, especially if it means participating in a handful, but trying to be part of all of them is bad, in my opinion. There's a good chance that such a worst-case scenario from my perspective won't ever happen, but I guess my point is that... well, it could be worse~

Oliver Surpless: I think it is part of the increasing popularity of conventions and people allowing the worst aspects of popular culture to rub off on what used to be just a geeks' domain. It doesn't bother me, as the true fans will still be there

Studyofanime: I think we've reached a point where a) the definition of true fan has also changed, and b) the hardcore fans can be perceived as having left the community already. What remains isn't a glut of people who dislike anime in favor of multifandom dilution, but a group of exceedingly open minded folk who like everything, and the associated social butterflies who followed them in for the sake of making new friends.

I also think something can be said for "focused passion," "unfocused passion" and "misplaced passion." If that makes any sense...

Zak: I understand "focused passion" and "misplaced passion," but I'm a little confused when you say "unfocused passion"...

Studyofanime: Unfocussed passion is the hallmark of "fandom for fandom's sake:" possessing passion for a)the sake of having passion or b)possessing passion for the wide-form representation of a [fandom] ideal.

Alex Gill: This is something I've noticed also, after going to conventions for nearly ten years.

Could that reduction in specificity within the collective fandom be due to the tastes of individual fans becoming more specific?

When I really began to get into anime, methods of consumption for that which I would have had an interest in were not nearly as diverse or as accessible as they are today; Broadband networks were not nearly as commonplace, YouTube was "born" around the time I got out of High School, for instance. Now, however, we have so many methods available to us to procure works that we have an interest in at a much faster rate, and how we communicate our opinions and discover information about series has also undergone vast developments.

I think this may have resulted in smaller groups developing very specific interests in genres or titles in anime, with all sorts of interests outside of anime and manga influencing their taste in those mediums. I think that's why the general disposition of convention attendees and the popular culture they associate with has become increasingly prevalent at conventions, to compensate for that lack of cohesion between fans as the body of the convention divides itself into smaller, more focused groups.

Of course, with so many aspects of cons moving towards the "general interest" end of the spectrum, such as guests booked or programming presented, many of these conventions still classify themselves as an event with a primary focus on anime, manga, or other aspects of East Asian culture...and a number of these events have deviated from that "mission statement" to the point where some would consider it false advertising.

It's going to be interesting to see how naming conventions for these conventions are going to be adjusted in the future.

Sarah Hodge-Wetherbe: Its funny that I never really paid attention to this. I've always been a renaissance geek myself. I'm into Star Trek and Lord of the Rings as much as I'm into anime...and even my anime taste runs the gauntlet (Miyazaki to Azumanga Daioh to Emma, a victorian romance.) 

I think maybe the "General Interest Geek" aspect always appealed to my librarian nature. There's a whole bunch of books here, why should I pick just one!

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