One can’t help but wonder what the Internet looks like in the YuYuYuverse. It surely must be a lot better.
Hey there, my inactive readership of 1.25 pony soldiers. Lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about online behavior in regard to media and how people seem to have this deep-rooted identification process with the things they read and want ingrained into them to the point where they believe they live and breathe their fiction and derive their self-approval from whatever they found likable about said fiction. Or how they are in the strong belief their social media statements reflect and change the world. Or just pretend to do so while only being out there for some good ol’ self-backpatting.
The reason I’m bringing this up now is that there’s recently been an interview with Kazuki Akane, director of last year’s infamously cancelled Hoshai no Sora, an anime about soft tennis wherein each of the teenage characters has some sort of parental issues (yes, every. single. one. of. them.) and there’s also some LGBT stuff on the sidelines. As far as I’m concerned, the interview itself is technically interesting but the answers given are… bad. Which is also what can be said for the show itself, really.
There’s a lot of reasons for that but in case you’re wondering how some of its content was handled, this is a rather striking part:
“Dude, we should totally spy on our opponent’s soft tennis matches.”
“Yeah, but we need to make sure they can’t tell it’s us. That means we must dress up as women!”
“Speaking of which, I’m trans.”
“I am the protagonist and I support whatever you just said. In fact, I have a
black trans friend!”
That was so idiotic I could hardly believe these were supposed to be characters rather than props being moved around to get to the next social talking points for the least believable reasons. And writing like that plagued the show in general. Ultimately, it’s a bad (mediocre if it had not been cancelled) anime that got halted midway and mistakes being complex for featuring characters who have complexes from LGBT stuff to parental abuse. Hoshiai no Sora very much is a slingshot of ambitious themes with lofty aspirations that misses each of its targets.
But my issues lie less with Hoshiai no Sora rather than Kazuki Akane’s statements in the interview that very much reflect the hubris he’s got inside his head as he generalizes an entire medium:
When I look at anime these days, I find myself wondering if it is possible to create one with a message to convey and there should be more of that.
Then he goes to great lengths to say anime is quasi-dead. His entire rhetoric is this generalizing BS that everyone has seen online and hated for a decade minimum but now we clap to that garbage like the seals we are. I mean, yes, he’s the director of many anime, some of which are critically acclaimed – Hoshiai no Sora was one of the worst anime I finished last year but I thought Noein was quite good. So that gives him a bit more credibility. But it’s still a stupid statement that sounds like it came from a random MAL elitist on his fifth Legend of the Galactic Heroes rewatch or bloody digibro. We usually don’t cheer for this kind of nonsense but in the face of progressivism… look, it’s for a good cause, right? Can we all just forget our standards and just do the applauding thing pretty please?
He goes on.
When it comes to parents hitting their children on TV, that would be a no-no in America, right?
This is such a stupid fucking remark. To deny decades of televised storytelling from another continent doesn’t show the limited extent of American television but of his own world view. Just in recent memory, we had everyone calling Mr. Robot the pinnacle of issue-centered storytelling for something not all too great either – though it was certainly better than Hoshiai no Sora at it. I can also think of Boardwalk Empire. And The Sopranos. What amazes me the most is how this man keeps generalizing Western entertainment but then in the followup interview, he’s so clueless about the reception of Westerners that he suddenly starts asking all the questions about what the West is like. What? Weren’t you just the sole Japanese spokesperson for the West? Which is it then?
But I think it’s this statement that broke the last straw within me:
You see, in live-action television, love between men is treated as comedy. It’s a similar case overseas as well, like in America or Europe, and I couldn’t help but feel uneasy about it.
Oh, fuck off. All of Western media shuns the portrayal of homosexuals in non-comedic context apparently? I’ve barely watched any live action and even I could list several well-known, critically acclaimed examples such as The Sopranos or Mad Men against this kind of nonsensical claim. This is essentially the same as an alt-right weeaboo – you know the type – saying things like “Japan is based. They don’t care about any of that LGBT crap. SJWs stand no chance there.” It’s just that the agenda is a different one. Maybe we should judge stupid and irresponsible statements regardless of who said it and for what reason? There have been shows like Six Feet Under way back in 2001 that dealt with these issues back when it was decisively not the popular thing to do. And they dealt with them in way more ambitious and graceful manners than bloody Hoshiai no Sora does or would possibly continue to do.
Look, clearly he means well. I’m not denying his good intentions but he’s an arrogant prick in a way or two with a tunnel vision and attitude issue that rivals Yamakan’s.
Anyway, so much for that. As far as I’m concerned, Hoshiai no Sora’s director has made it very clear why Hoshiai no Sora should not get another season. But this isn’t about him. This is about the people who buy into this and not about Hoshiai no Sora at large, which just gave me an excuse to put some thoughts into words.
Because it’s not just Hoshiai no Sora’s director who is into this self-congratulary spiel. It’s also so many people on the Internet going all “Pretty cool that we’re now patting ourselves on the back for having seen Hoshiai no Sora, making us achieve indirect mastery of LGBT themes. That is an anime that brought gay people to TV first; then deconstructed it. In fact, it invented LGBT. It’s the Madoka of our time.” What even is Hourou Musuko then? What are YagaKimi et al.? But then again, Hourou Musuko predates modern tumblr activism so it couldn’t possibly have been progressive. That’s how it works apparently.
And I’ve seen this odd kind of twitter behavior that wouldn’t fly elsewhere a lot. Like when the educated liberal Internet intellectual makes contact with outlandish media. “Yes, yes. I’ve done a lot of LGBT today. I’ve leveled up on these systematic issues that I usually do nothing about and will continue to do nothing about. I’m a good person indeed.” I beg to differ. But enough with that. Let’s rather ask the question of how we best judge of what makes us good then?
I certainly don’t believe it’s this utterly perverted concept of indirect mastery that makes the tumblr crowd on the Internet so very proud of their non-deeds and identify with the media they consume to bizarre degrees. They live through other people’s stories rather than trying to achieve successes on their own. Whenever they find bits of progressivism in anime, they switch over to this self-patting victory mode. And whenever they disagree with any media, they try to get it cancelled. Remember Goblin Slayer? Shield Hero? This is where thoughts and deeds go to die. Worse even, the folks who do this think they are good people. Good people never do that. Witless bullies and hapless punks do it all the time.
I think the treatment of media and social media of young and not so young people nowadays has fundamentally changed in a not healthy but rather warped way. See, you retweeting something that you perceive as noble doesn’t make you noble. You pointing at media of the past and saying that something deeply problematic can be found within doesn’t mean you’re a hero who just saved someone from oppression. Congratulations on calling out The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air for making use of the word “retarded” and how that’s [x] toxic, [x] problematic and [x] yikesyikesyikes. That means that The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air is BAD and you’re GOOD for pointing that out, you super master detective. Except you’re not good because you didn’t even do anything. There’s a reason why these people are called “antis” and not “pros”.
So, how do you become a good person then? The answer to that is simple: By doing good things. I’m sorry, there’s just no shortcut around it in the form of fiction and virtue signaling. The blue checkmark, the pronouns in the bio… all these hip little things to do for the Certified Good People™. No, writing “n*z*s” instead of “nazis” does not make you good. It doesn’t change anything. If anything, the one single lesson to be learnt from Harry Potter, namely to properly state evil’s name, that, for some reason, is the sole thing these tumblr failures that absorb J.K. Rowling’s franchise as a self-help gospel franctically try not to apply to life. It’s almost laughable.
Likewise, watching an anime doesn’t mean you’re taking a courageous stand against Donald Trump. Identifying themes about friendship and family in a kids anime of all things even less so. This is why ANN reviewers and the likes are in awe of Carole and Tuesday as it conforms to their world views whereas the rest of us just rolled our eyes at the political elements the show had to offer because they were just that – hackneyed drivel.
See, watching Hoshiai no Sora, playing The Last Of Us, using liberal code words on twitter… that is the level of the abstract where good things do not happen. Feel free to like whatever you want to like but don’t use these things for your grand Internet stage plays. It’s just a lazy pretend-way of claiming you’re good. Good things aren’t abstract however. Good things need to be concrete. People who disagree and think they improve the world through liberal twitter hottakes couldn’t possibly believe that there are others who would trade in their dignity for a slice of bread. Because that is something concrete, something quantifiable. 280 characters and one click on a button are not and conclusively do not suffice.
And this is what this very specific subset of people doesn’t want to accept: That they have to put in actual effort. It’s a circlejerk of attention seekers. The constant race for the next medal to award yourself with. We make fun of the ‘generation of participation trophies’ but is that really the case? That implies participation at all. Long story short, fuck the tumblr school of thought and its desire for cheap, easy grabs of self-reward. It’s what causes people to harrass artists on twitter for not conforming to their warped norms.
It’s also very much why everyone hates modern Internet feminists. These aren’t the people who fight for rights, they fight against petty bullshit online. Now granted, one could always make the argument that there should be room for people to take care of lesser issues too, especially with the limitations they are given, but that means that 1.) these are actual issues and not just bogus where people toss an entire cable into their soup because they can’t find a hair in it and 2.) these people need to have the dignity to admit that their Internet feminism is not on the same level of virtue as someone saving women from being stoned in the Middle East. Because it takes a little bit more than posting a hashtag of how the patriarchy needs to go fuck itself.
Perhaps this is why their language has degraded into this rubbish consisting of nothing but code words and baby speak. “YASS QUEEN SLAY OOF YIKES I CAN’T EVEN NOW LISTEN *clap emoji x 5* CAN WE ALL JUST YIKES UGH DO YOU REALLY I’M LITERALLY SHAKING”, and for some reason, it always sounds like they’re yelling. Maybe that’s to cover the fact that they have nothing of value to say.
Now obviously, someone who likes Hoshiai no Sora (more power to like whatever you like!) isn’t automatically someone who flaunts entertainment media or online nonsense as a badge of honor and even that someone isn’t bound to harrass artists on twitter. But regardless, I think it’d be nice if we all got stuck up a bit less on the notion that we all have to be splendid, good people online and it’s about time to rethink the very bizarre and tight framework of how to achieve that. And obviously, I don’t make the rules here. But good grief, am I tired of how twitter and the likes have turned into a mess of clashing belief systems over absolutely nothing.
I’m not saying you have to be noble, selfless, that you shouldn’t seek praise and approval. I wouldn’t wanna try to inflict a purity test that I myself cannot pass. I’m not even saying you have to be good either. But if you claim or think to be, do yourself a favor and at least try to do some good. In a concrete way, not spiritually. Fiction and squealing over some girl kissing another girl in a The Last Of Us II trailer will not do it for you – they are the modern version of ‘Thoughts And Prayers’. Your indirect mastery will not redeem anything, not champion anything, not be worth anything. “I have an agreeable opinion online” is the “We live in a society” of Internet discourse. To which I say: Less backpatting, more heavy-lifting. And if you can’t do that, then, well, who cares? You don’t need to win the Twitter Nobel Prize Of Peace each and every day anew. Heck, The Wire is among my favorites but I don’t claim to stand for Baltimore. And that’s okay.
Just do yourself a favor and don’t claim or think otherwise because those are ultimately just delusions of grandeur. The Internet is not a race for the lowest hanging fruits of displaying your most shallow attempts at generosity and kindness. I for one don’t even bother with my twitter presence to get anything productive done and I’m totally fine regardless. It’s probably less stressful too and in these troubled times, the less competition we have the better I say. Quite frankly, if you think merely the (social) media you consume and enact makes you a good person… you’re probably not a good person.
And if you’re telling me you want to be a good person but the ‘actually doing things’ part is so bothersome? You’d like to be one of the do-gooders but there’s so many conflicting schedules and all the stress, it’s simply not manageable? How can you be good without doing good?
Regrettably, I don’t think you can. On that account, I don’t have any advice to offer. To do good, you just need to do a little better.
With that said, good night, fellow good people.
Unfortunately, I don’t think you will ever wake up.