Fandom Frustration: Time to Peel Off the Labels

Warning, I wrote this in a single sitting while getting my thoughts and emotions off my chest, so if it comes off as long winded and ranty, that is how I mean it to be. I don’t want to edit out my feelings to create a better piece of writing, as I want people to truly understand my emotions here. I put this in the anime section of my blog because that is where my frustration began, and if this post bothers or angers you, I don’t even fucking care. The image of Ritsu conveys exactly how I’ve been feeling lately.

This past year has been a trying time for me when dealing with fandoms. In particular the anime fandom has stood out to me, and in a very negative way. I have been deep in fandom over my years, in which I have amassed a huge figure collection, I have dakimakuras, I’ve argued with people I disagree with, etc. I even used to proudly call myself an Otaku, and started my previous blog, The Otakugamer using that label. Unfortunately my passion is being sucked out of me as the very hardcore section of fandom. This ended up with me having a blow up in a semi-public setting online, that a few have seen, and many have not and may never witness. This post will break down my issues and specifics.

Most of my focus is with the Anime/Otaku fandom because some of the group have become so rabid, you can’t say anything negative about the hobby. I have found myself arguing over the most inane topics because I might hold a less than favorable opinion, or lacking an opinion that people want to hear. Since the beginning of the year I’ve stopped watching and finishing a lot of anime series, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by some. It wasn’t until a couple months ago I started realizing why.

Beginning with Otakon this year, I become cognizant of my fatigue of dealing with anime fans. I was no longer just annoyed with the one side of anime fans that hates everything moe and wants nothing but intellectual content. My frustration started to include dealing with the fans that love calling themselves otaku and fighting anyone who speaks ill of their hobby. Post-Otakon my frustration grew to anger and I rarely had patience to deal with anyone who would fight back without substance. This ended with my most recent outburst.

Last month I ended up doing a Fall Anime 2013 Preview bit as I do every quarter when new anime series come out. Repeatedly leading up to this season I constantly stated my opinion of the season looking like it was going to turn out to be disappointing. As I watched preview trailers, read descriptions, and looked at early images, my opinion became a bit harsher. I had no qualms in stating this Fall season looked like shit or that it was going to suck. I ended up only finding fives shows that seemed worth my time.

My opinion on the fall season was not taken very well and during my season preview I was locked in to a huge argument with a friend. My friend was pissed I could make a blanket statement on what was marketed to me, even though this is the first season I’ve watched so few shows, and normally I find ten or more shows worth watching. I was getting fed up as the argument went on and it got extremely heated. We were yelling and cursing at each other, which wasn’t a pretty scene at all.

What came next led to me almost being done with anime altogether. My friend had the audacity to question my fandom, about how many shows have I finished recently, etc. For those who may not know, I have been a fan for over two decades, and the one thing I hate in fandom more than anything else, is questioning a person’s level of being a fan. This may not be the exact phrasing, but I basically said “Fuck this, I quit” and walked off. It has been a long time since I’ve been that angry with someone while arguing over a hobby. In the end, I finished the preview and did patch things up with the friend in questions, in which we both spoke rationally to each other about how we felt and we are all good now.

I don’t want people to think this is exclusive to just anime fandom, as gaming fandom has become very irritating lately as well. There have always been fanboy/fangirl wars over game franchises, genres and consoles, but lately it gets worse and worse. Gaming fandom kind of irks me in a different way, as I feel that gamers have taken the path to seeking out the negative in everything instead of just enjoying their hobby. They nitpick on anything the new generation of consoles are lacking, or crying about pre-order bonuses, glitchy games, or game companies themselves. All the while the same people are still pre-ordering and buying these titles, which completely contradicts their complaints.

My biggest complaint lately with a lot of the hardcore in the gaming fandom is when discussion turns to Feminism, Sexism, or Misogyny. Gamers hit forums or article comment threads, freaking out when anyone thinks a game has a poor representation of women, or lacks one completely. It’s not like those “gamers” are arguing rationally or logically, but instead they throw insults, start petitions, or the biggest offense, threats of physical/sexual violence. This only helps support the argument of those bringing up the issues. While I do believe these issues exist, I don’t always agree with how the arguments are presented. They can be just as mistaken by complaining games they are offended by shouldn’t exist or should be changed to their liking. Personally I feel they should be focused on helping produce more content that helps put these issues to rest, not screaming for games to be changed or canceled.

I also want to beg the males of all fandoms to stop being so critical and dismissive of the female fans. It is not necessary to have a lady prove her fandom by being asked twenty questions so you feel validated. The also includes knocking it off with “Fake (insert fandom label here) Girl. Why are you so threatened by a female fan that if she only enjoys, for example Nintendo games, she isn’t hardcore enough to be a gamer. Grow the fuck up and stop acting like immature little boys. Girls aren’t going to take away your video games. Accept them and just act civil for once in your life, instead of hiding behind your keyboards like little pussies.

While I’ve been working on how I went about writing this lengthy piece about my issues with fandoms, I was able to reflect upon myself and how I want to approach my hobbies going forward. The first thing that came to mind is no longer labeling myself. I will no longer call myself an otaku, a brony, a gamer, etc. I am just going to be a fan of my hobbies and the content I enjoy. This is a way for me to not feel associated with the negative sides of fandom since I won’t be grouping myself in, and I can finally relax more.

I have also decided to take a break from the convention scene for about a year. I have canceled my plans for Otakon Vegas and Katsucon. I might attend a single day of MAGFest in January, but that is not final. The break from conventions was a tough one to make, but I definitely feel it is the right decision. This past year the convention scene was the first to begin to wear on me. If you are curious about my attendance at Otakon next year, fear not as I will be joining everyone, as that convention is more of a weekend to hang out with friends whom I only see about once a year.

For those worried my voice will be going away on my newly launched website or the podcasts I co-host, I can assure you I am not leaving. There will be some changes going forward, that much is true. After discussing it over with Scott Spaziani, Otaku in Review will move to bi-weekly and we won’t force ourselves to finish shows just to provide a review. Shows may end up being shorter in length, but we want to go back to just having fun and not feeling constrained to a deadline on reviewing items. As for Geek Effect, it will also be seeing some changes, as the schedule has been hard to nail down with Mana. We hope to have it back soon in its new capacity.

So as I close out my long winded thoughts, I just want to assure my readers/listeners/friends that I am not going away, I am just going to relax. I am going to be entertained by my hobbies, and not disillusion by the fandom anymore. It is too easy to get caught up in the emotions that fandom brings, and I no longer want to feel overwhelmed and agitated by a lot of the nonsense the hardcore fan base of my hobbies can bring about. I hope my friends who can be considered amongst the hardcore understand where I am coming from and don’t take offense to anything said here. I’m fucking exhausted and I need to keep my sanity if I want to continue the enjoyment of my many hobbies.

32 Comment

  1. The rampant hostility, toxicity, and negativity of anime and gaming fandom takes its toll on a lot of us. We’re at the point where few things can be brought up in conversation without turning into an argument at some point, and where the fan-created media within these fandoms is dominated by people who promote cynicism, negativity, and fandom infighting rather than reasoned discussion. It’s really tough to avoid in this day and age.

    I feel like people in fandom have become resistant to disagreement and discussion. They’ve hardened themselves to the idea of accepting viewpoints outside of their own, let alone the idea of shifting theirs as a result of conversation. Nobody really listens, they just wait to speak, and even at that, people would much rather surround themselves with people who think just like they do and (at best) shun or (at worst) vilify and demonize any opposing viewpoints. Everyone’s so afraid of their worldview (or at least their perspective on fandom) being shattered that they splinter off into factions, and anyone outside of their faction is “the enemy” and nothing “the enemy” says can ever be trusted.

    People are too focused on cutting down media they don’t like and people who like media they don’t like, when they should be focusing on supporting the media they do like. Too much of fandom is “We need to change X” or “We need to stop X” or “X is offensive, we need to get rid of it” or “X group of people need to check themselves.” If half of the energy that went into downing on media and other fans went instead into appreciating, or better yet, creating media, fandom would be a much better place.

    The great thing about fandom is that, beyond the negative, cynical, hateful people that make up much of it, there are so many incredibly talented people within it, and that goes for anime, gaming, MLP, and every fandom inbetween. I think that those people’s responsibility is to facilitate celebration of fandom. Some of them rise to that and some of them don’t, and to be fair, the sheer amount of attention and fame that cynical, negative personalities get can make it very tempting to also be a cynical, negative personality, but the people who refuse to get caught up in the negativity and who endeavour to create quality content, promote actual discussion, and celebrate fandom, are what keep me in fandom and what give me hope that fandom will, someday, move past all this bullcrap.

  2. The is like a line graph we can plot in all fandom where there is a point of diminishing returns. The more anime or gaming is someones main hobby, the less likely they are to be critical of the shows they watch and the more likely they will be defensive. Simply because they want to like more stuff because they spend so much time in that individual hobby and so little time outside of it. So to those fans, any criticism of the stuff they like is a critic of how the spend their time which then becomes a critic of the individual person.

    I don’t really care if you want to spend all your time watch anime or playing video games. (Although I think you may be a less well rounded person overall, that’s not necessarily bad) But *I* like those things too. However, because my time is more limited or more spread out between other hobbies I need to be far more critical than someone who spends 100% of their time on that single hobby. Which aids in developing specific tastes and preferences, which leads to snap judgements and careful choosing.

    I think that you and I just happen to clash with the Anime and Gaming super fans more because we are deeply entrenched into these communities, even if our level of fandom isn’t as extreme. The average person who just plays games he likes and watches a few anime he is interested in never really butts heads with the level of fandom we find ourselves dealing with all the time.

  3. StationOX11 says:

    Good on you man. Take it easy~ Also, bi-weekly shows? Still doing better than Anime World Order. *jab jab* 😉

  4. chapternine says:

    Good article. I’ve started to feel the same way, especially about the white knights who think they should be offended on behalf of others. People are entitled to their opinion, but to actively disrupt the lives of others is taking it a bit far. Anyways I’m glad you’re back from the hiatus. Just keep doing you.

    • G-Nitro says:

      White Knights are the worst. Even though White Knights usually refers to males sticking up for women on the net, Anime White Knights are guys who defend anime because any critique is slander against the medium and themselves… Annoys the shit out of. me

  5. […] wrote a lengthy explanation of why he no longer feels comfortable identifying as an “otaku” or a “gamer.”  In his experiences, being made to feel like a fake geek isn’t exclusive to either […]

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