Writers Should Write About Whatever They Want Without Having To Fear “Appropriation”

Appropriation

I am getting sick of non-discussions and anger debates but what can a man do other than to add his two cents?

I’m getting tired of complaining about ANN and its idiotic antics much like with the Shield Hero non-scandal thing back then but bear with me.

A day ago or so, there’s been an ANN review on Futakai na Boku no Subete wo and it’s not positive.

The reviewer calls it

a book authored by a cis person who only discovered the existence of nonbinary people, through a random, haphazard Google search, shortly before endeavoring to write it—this is admitted in the author’s note

and argues the author is risk factor because

the mangaka, Kata Konayama, is cisgender.

Oh boy. Here we go again. This logic.

Quite frankly, occasionally, it felt like less like a review and more like a character assassination.

Appropriation Writing

Needless to say, not everyone was pleased but as ANN moderation would have it, critical comments are shut down and described as attacks on the reviewer.

It’s the good ol’ tactic of:
1. Talk shit.
2. Get hit.
3. “HELP I’M BEING HARRASSED”

You’ve seen this before. It’s not exactly original. Do you know how many times this has been done on the Internet? What’s sad is that it works so well.

appropriation-leftist

But I really don’t care about the manga – never read it -, the reviewer – literally who – or the subject matter – couldn’t relate less if I tried -, that’s not of importance.

What pisses me off is that the reviewer has the gall to claim that if you don’t belong to a certain group of people, you shouldn’t be allowed to write about them and parts of the comment section actually agree. I’d care less about this if this was just an isolated incident but I’ve seen this kind of thinking so many times by now and it just baffles me, hence the blog post. So anytime a writer writes about something that he’s interested in but hasn’t experienced himself… and puts in the necessary research… we should condemn that? And the thirst of knowledge is bad? As it is to strive for understanding and communicate passion?

That sounds counterproductive. Because keep in mind as we need to extinguish the The Wires (white people writing about the sociocultural issues of Baltimore) of this world, let’s also not forget about all the Megumi no Daigos and Fune wo Amus and just kinda sorta everything else as well. I bet Masahito Soda has never worked as a firefighter before! And Miura Shion? There’s no way she’s put work into the creation of a dictionary! Research? Passion? What are those?

Appropriation Race

Christ, this isn’t a job application where you need experience in a certain field. Before trying to apply this logic willfully to everything, you might just wanna start with doing that with ANN’s recruitment because one thing’s for sure, there’s pretty much nobody with any experience in journalism there. And it shows. Telling others to not engage with something they have previously had no interest in is narrow-minded and idiotic. We don’t call this “qualification”. We call it “discrimination”.

See, this isn’t about applying sensical standards. I’m all for “You wanna write about the subject matter? Then know what you’re talking about!” but that’s not what this is about. This is about purity tests. It’s all about “ARE YOU WOKE ENOUGH FOR ME?” Putting other people down is easier than you yourself climbing up the pedestal since that requires effort but the result is the same – you can be under the impression you’re better than others. Yes, yes, nice virtue signaling there. I remain unimpressed.

Appropriation Skin Color

For fuck’s sake, I spend big chunks of my freetime studying Japanese because I care, I’m not appropriating their culture therefore. There’s a difference between that and the orientalist “AND THEN I NAMED MY JAPANESE CHARACTER FENG SHUI THE DOG EATER”.

I’m not sure what’s supposed to be the end goal here anyway. Social progress? That can’t be it. We all talk about how we need to raise awareness for the social and cultural issues of our time. Racism, economic injustices, etc. Granted, we could do with a whole lot less finger pointing and accusations but the will to make everyone care is there. And then all of that is trampled upon the moment the previously ignorant start to engage with the subject matter and begin to care because they are caring the wrong way. THESE ARE YOUR ALLIES, YOU DIPSHITS. IF YOU THINK THEY’RE STARTING ON THE WRONG FOOT, TEACH THEM HOW TO DO BETTER.

Appropriation Rightists

But once again, that would require more effort than calling something “appropriation”.

This entire “we must keep amongst ourselves and not try to speak about others or interact with one another” logic is essentially the kind of stuff you’d expect from the faux-agreeable rightist to say. See, the faux-agreeable rightist doesn’t say “Racism is good. We must eliminate other races.”, the faux-agreeable rightist says “Of course racism is bad! All I’m saying is – let’s keep to our own. Preserve cultures instead of interfering with them. Let’s have our own secluded spaces. Europeans should stay amongst themselves and so should Arabs, preserving their traditions and inherent values.”

Appropriation Sex

For some reason, it’s exactly what you sometimes get to hear from faux-progressives as well. Except their line of reasoning is different. This time, we must segregate out of “respect for others”. That’s the woke logic behind it. Men should not write female characters. Whites shouldn’t write about blacks. Let’s all just build enough barriers to make sure we don’t appropriate.

Let’s get rid of racism by eliminating Halloween customes. We look the other way when native Americans are forced to live in reservoirs but when Lil’ Billy dresses up as one of them because he thinks it “looks cool”? Boy, twitter needs to know about that one. And the mass media. That’s what ends racism right there.

Never must our paths intertwine, not once must we say things about each other, let’s be huddled amongst ourselves, we must be put into separate zones, looking at those that are not like us from afar, a safe distance so the safe zones do not collide – much like within a zoo. There’s a sign right there that says “Worship them from afar. Silently appreciate. Do not appropriate.”

Appropriation Gender

After all, interaction is bad. The wrong doctrine. Separate. Segregate. Seclude. Keep them seated in different busses. Jeez, what do ANN writers think we are, some kind of melting pot?

I don’t care if your logic is a different one and your reasoning ‘sounds prettier’ than the faux-rightist’s one. That’s make-up. It’s just aesthetics. It’s the results that count. “I was politely segregationist unlike that racist piece of rightist trash over there.” isn’t a hill to die on if it’s a mountain of corpses and I’ve seen this more and more lately. Applying this nonsense to writers is about the worst you could do. Man, some of these people wander so far to the left they pop up at my right side again. How does that even work?

But you know what? Fuck that. I’m gonna do my own thing. And so should you. Screw those miserable sacks!

Appropriation Anime

Because in the meanwhile, I’ll enjoy my stories about firefighters, dictionary makers, high school runners, victorian maids in love, armed librarians, hospital doctors, football players, card game playing and world saving teenagers as well as magical girls fighting to their deaths.

And there is nothing even the most narrow-minded ANN writer can do to stop me; because even on my more pessimistic days, I will still be more open to the world than they could ever be.

And now if that isn’t a silver lining, what else could be?

3 thoughts on “Writers Should Write About Whatever They Want Without Having To Fear “Appropriation”

  1. I agree with the main objection that the writer’s identity shouldn’t matter, but I think you aren’t fair to the reviewer as well because they do the explaining of where the book does well and where it falls short. The grading is probably harsh, (I’ll know when I actually get tired it) but if it’s true the mangaka just wrote a whole story without doing the research work (namely talking with nb people about their experience), it’s kinda embarrassing. That’s not willing to learn, that’s “I’ll be lazy and mooch money by queerbaiting” and I hope you understand the difference. That’s no huge offended ofc, but it is something you can legimately complaint a bit about…

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    • A reviewer should, no, MUST be capable of explaining why something is good and bad without having to rely on making broad assumptions about the author. Otherwise, none of us could ever write any reviews in the first place unless we specifically knew about what the writer thought and I highly doubt any of us do, especially with a language barrier coming between Western fandom and any Japanese writer.

      Of course, this is not what ANN usually does and I don’t see why, instead of attacking a work of fiction, you instead attack an author you know nothing about. I mean, you accuse the author of knowing nothing about a topic while actually knowing nothing about the author, it takes an ANN writer to not see the irony in that.

      Should an author know about the topics he writes about? Yes, absolutely. And anime fans are absolutely averse to that kind of criticism, usually pulling out their “DUDE IT’S FICTION” card, which translates roughly to “STOP HAVING STANDARDS BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE ANY”. It’s also unfair towards series like Fune wo Amu, something that goes into painstaking detail about how to create a dictionary, putting in the effort to actually research things whereas other anime… well, don’t get me started.

      That is not what the ANN writer did here though. The ANN complained about how the author was writing about a topic that he was not directly related to (as most authors aren’t) and his interest was kicked off by stumbling upon the topic at hand. What’s wrong with that? What’s reprehensible about encountering a topic and then trying to work your way through it? It was nowhere specified that the author never interviewed or talked with anyone queer during the entire run of the manga and this is just volume 01. What if the author just found the topic at hand to be engaging and THEN learnt from/about it? Isn’t that what this should lead too? I mean, for decades, we gave female authors writing boys’ love manga a pass and still do. That’s a double standard to me.

      Also, queerbaiting is hardly even a thing that earns you any money. That’s just tumblr speak for “I, the statisical outlier and Westerner, need representation from Japanese fiction and if I don’t get it the exact way, I’m gonna throw a tantrum”. I mean, I agree girls blushing at each other but keeping things extra ambigious in these pseudo-yuri shows is p. annoying but this is an entirely different case.

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      • No, queerbaiting is very much a thing in Japan, too. Let’s forget Tumblr, shall we? I’m referring to publishers and authors aware of fetishes and selling trends. BL is the biggest book industry in Japan money wise. Shounen Jump has encouraged ambiguous moments within its sports series like Kuroko and it’s very obvious on its posters and promotional material. Fujoshi have a huge monetary power. As for this particular narrative, if anything, it wouldn’t necessarily sell towards LGBT only but people who also like otokonoko.

        I thought about your argument about BL written by women, but BL is clearly porn-adjacent material, not cute stories trying to cover real life experiences. Non binary is definitely a term not found in more fetishistic/voyeristic stories. But I can accept that that’s a speculation than a fact.

        Yet. If someone states that they looked up something LGBT related on Google granted the context, it’s not just assumption that the mangaka is cis. If they aren’t enby or trans, what are they? What meows on the roof? I wouldn’t really call this assumption. He wouldn’t need to look up anything if he was already nb or trans. Compare it to Dusk at Dawn or even Hourou Musuko and see how the MC’s feelings are expressed. Since the reviewer is enby they also had certain expectations on the “talking points”.

        That said, it’s not very clever to assault one’s identity. I know I’ve hated a lot of lesbian films made by lesbians. Being of the community doesn’t automatically make for best writing. There are just more chances the experiences are realistic and not voyeuristic.

        On another note reviewing an incomplete work isn’t the smartest move either, because you can’t accuse anyone for not writing content you expect from the first volume.

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