Beware the wrath of an angry Chikage, she will let none of you scoundrels pass!
Ah, yes, gatekeeping. A common complaint that pops up about every week in one way or another. At least if you spend a good chunk of your time on twitter. Which I’m not sure why you would want to do that in the first place. Nag, nag, nag, all these people do there is complain. Which probably answers your question as to why I live there rent-free. But anyway. Let’s get back to the point.
So. Gatekeeping? What is that? Well, luckily, Oxford Languages is here to help:
[T]he activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something.
[A] function or system that controls access or operations to files, computers, networks, or the like.
Needless to say, this was too practical and too hands-on for some people so we needed to apply this basic concept to mere human behavior to then have a fancy term for another Internet phenomenon because sociologists and people who are the opposite of social on twitter can have something to complain about when they’re too busy poisoning society. So let’s check out what Urban Dictionary has to say on the matter at hand.
When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity.
So, long story short, it’s fandom drama bullshit, as in the usual.
So essentially, gatekeeping would be like me saying that you don’t belong to the anime community (good for you, really) because you haven’t watched anime for as long as me (I really wouldn’t call that a plus anyway) or some pretentious nitwit arguing that you can’t comprehend Dies Irae beyond a mere surface level if you haven’t read Nietzsche, Heidegger etc. pp. and then screeching angrily at people reverse-engineering that logic that you can’t comprehend said German philosophers if you don’t actually understand German, unable to understand the irony. This is a purely hypothetical scenario of course.
Well, that sounds pretty bad. Because it is pretty bad. So why am I not ending this post on this note and calling it a day?
Well, that’s because noone uses the term correctly anymore and in 7 out of 10 cases, the dipshit is not the alleged gatekeeper but the person doing the complaining.
For you see, most of the time the people who usually complain about gatekeeping are those the gates are used for to keep out for good reason; and the moral apostles of the Internet, always quick not to side with the voice of reason but the one shouting the loudest.
One thing that regularly is referred to as gatekeeping is the regular twitter smugness of “Oh, you think X is good? Check out Y!” No. That’s not gatekeeping. That is the exact opposite paired with elitism. I don’t see how a twitter mob telling you that no, Kimetsu no Yaiba is not the best anime ever is gatekeeping. If anything, looking at the many recommendations that follow thereafter, it’s the opposite. The only gatekeepers are the people themselves who are perfectly happy with making generalizing, unfounded statements, only ever watching the same Weekly Shounen Jump drivel. They are gatekeeping themselves. We used to mock the kind of anime fan watching nothing but Naruto all day long for not being willing to look past it and discover new anime. Now we’re supposed to hold them in special regard and treat them like they’re just as valid for refusing to leave their cave. If anything, telling someone who watches nothing but shounen anime to watch something else for a change is opening the gates. But that would mean for the fast food entertainment eater to leave their comfort zone and we can’t have that, since that would be considered even the slightest bit of a challenge and any kind of hurdle is deemed exclusionist and therefore gatekeeping. See how this works? We truly live in the bizarro realm.
This is what it’s all about: people getting offended at the mere thought of not having something handed to them on a silver platter and despising any form of challenge or established standard. They then seek to “reform” the community or status quo by kicking out whoever disagrees with them. And to phrase this toxicity nicely, we have the “gatekeeping” term. Ah, the good cause. These people would point at red lights and call them gatekeepers for preventing them from crossing the street, no matter how justified the cause. It’s an abolishment of conventions and standards.
But why have standards? Why make something exclusionary by including hurdles? Because some of the stuff that requires mastery carries meaning therein.
There’s a difference between climbing a mountain and using a gondola. Granted, you both get to enjoy the view from the top and who am I to condemn that but then again, being as asinine as to suggest that you achieved as much with the gondola and deserve the same praise? Yeah, nah, I don’t think so.
This isn’t about keeping as many people out as possible as some elitist form of discrimination. This is about upholding some standards and making sure that whatever you’re obsessed about doesn’t lose its inherent qualities.
You see this a lot with video games, of which 99% are a walk in the park, which is not how it used to be. Yeah, we got rid of the complete BS difficulty of age-old (S)NES games. Good. We also got rid of anything that might put a hurdle in anyone’s way in the name of “accessibility”. Not good. Which is essentially just about killing artistic integrity so mostly soulless corporations run by business suits with terrible ethics can sell as many copies of their mass-produced, algorithmically optimized products as possible. Except it’s hidden behind the neat term of “accessibility” so we’re masking capitalist ruin with progressive attitudes. No, games being bad and unchallenging is not about protecting the disabled from… hard video games?
It’s also rather ludicrous that whenever the 1% of hard video games makes the news, everyone starts screaming for an easy mode. No. Fuck off. You’ve poisoned the well enough. You already have the other 99%. Not everything in the world needs to pander to you. Art doesn’t need to lose its merits and integrity to give you a free blowjob. And if Elden Ring was so impossibly hard anyway, it wouldn’t have been a massive success in the first place. You’re losing out to the average gamer here, a crowd of people we’re not even sure are actually capable of sentient thinking yet.
Listen, nobody is taking your precious freedoms away. You can do whatever you want. But people will most likely comment on it if you spread your stupidity on social media, which is, by definition, a public space. Talk shit, get hit.
Movies don’t need on-screen text to explain every bit of symbolism and subtext for the media-illiterate Netflix crowd and neither does Elden Ring need an easy mode. Elden Ring is not the problem if you are having a problem. Put in some effort and readjust yourself. You can’t get into the ride at the amusement park because you’re too fat? Well, that’s your problem.
I especially see this from the online woke crowd that somehow believes that everyone should be treated equally, not based on an equality of opportunities but an equality of results. Which reminds me of a group presentation I had to do in school. Now see, my partner did a poor job and I was lauded for my good work. So the teacher then explained to us that as a result, we would both get an average grade. Why did I get punished for his bad performance and why did he get rewarded for my good performance? As you can surely tell, I am still seething, to this very day.
This is another problem. We must be so inclusive nowadays that we can no longer have differences. Because that would exclude people again. But that’s not being inclusive. It’s just called “pandering to the lowest common denominator”.
It’s also funny that the people screeching against the mere concept of gatekeeping are the same ones who are big into cancel culture. I thought that kicking people out was a bad thing? Then why are you harrassing that artist from Japan for drawing porn on his twitter?
There’s people who want manji to be removed because they mistake them for swastikas. Excuse me. Are you dense? Don’t you ever think that it’d be highly unlikely for Japan to display actual nazi swastikas at every temple? Don’t you ever notice that these are mirrored? Wouldn’t you intuitively understand that clearly, the manji is a different thing from the swastika? And if you’re too stupid to understand that much, how do you manage to make it through everyday life and society in general? Why should we culturally readjust content and make entertainment dumber just because you’re dumb? Stop turning rice balls into burgers just because you’re too stupid to comprehend that other countries have other cultures. Yes, keeping the manji there might make you feel excluded. So what? I’d rather keep the manji than you, to be honest.
Also, uh, the people who say they don’t like mecha and therefore don’t watch it unless it’s Darling in the FranXX, which is not like the other mecha anime because it’s about the characters and not the mechas (which is wrong and the same as boasting about choosing ignorance), having regular freakouts over their moronic soap opera trash shipping stories and harrassing voice actresses on twitter over what their characters do and screaming about how you’re gatekeeping them when telling them to watch other mecha anime or the 86 fans claiming this is the first mecha anime with politics even though the first Gundam anime very specifically namedropped the nazis… this is a new thing. And maybe we should keep that out. Yeah, that kind of shitty attitude can and should be left at the gates.
Yeah, fanbases evolve and there will always be different stages of terribleness, like back in the days we had the hardcore weeaboos who would spam Japanese emojis across their sentences while making *moe kawaii uguu desu nyan* sounds, now those don’t exist anymore and are replaced by college feminists calling anime creatives pedophiles on twitter and redrawing fanart by coloring the characters black or making everyone fat and ugly while still tagging the original artist to throw a “I FIXED YOUR ART, NO NEED TO THANK ME” in their faces, so… hooray for progress… I guess?
Oh, and on the other side of the political spectrum we now have edgy teen (at least that’s what I hope they are) rightists having reactionary fake outrage attacks, calling anime that aren’t exploding cowtits isekai drivel SJW material while proclaiming themselves as the messengers of Japanese culture by portraying it as an apolitical anti-Western monolithic country that triggers the libs for fun in their idiotic culture wars and everyone in Japan likes anime and boobs and thinks exactly like them and loves them and wait, didn’t we mock these people as weeaboos before except now they have a political component to them? Whatever happened to that? I think the worst thing I saw was an alt-right anime news website (also dealing with American politics because that’s such an intuitive thematical overlap) interviewing the literal nazi director of MMO Junkie on how Jews ruined the anime industry by making ultra-violent stuff as the site owners plastered that wolf girl from Touhou with a MAGA hat dabbing over heaps of Jewish corpses in concentration camps, calling it the “holohaux”. Yeah, what’s up with that? We didn’t have that back in the days either. Personally, I blame the spiritual predecessor for all of this outrage trash, Shitkaku Complex.
Not to mention all this cultural appropriation nonsense. Like with Ghost of Tsushima. I think once you’ve made it to the “I’m Korean-American and I don’t care that the Japanese like this game because I choose to be offended in their stead and that matters more than what they have to say so they better shut up so I can represent their voices best!” stage of so-called inclusiveness, you’re just out there.
If it takes gatekeeping to get rid of the abovementioned trash, then be my guest. Slam those doors and kick the vermin out. I’m sorry but not every kind of behavior and any kind of stupidity is welcome everywhere. And that’s fine. You’re not being gatekept. You’re just being you. And that’s enough of a problem.
So yes, you do have to watch JoJo from the get-go. You do not skip parts.
No, you’re not a fan of a game if you haven’t played it. You don’t “watch games”.
No, you didn’t finish a TV series if you watched it at 2 times speed. Never mind the avocado toasts, this is the plague that millennials have brought with them.
Nobody is turning anime into a competetive environment by telling you to let go of the demon slayers and ninja kids for a second and maybe see what else a medium has to offer.
And people can rightfully exclude you for being the new guy in town barging into a new environment and dictating what everyone has to be and act like. Because guess what, nobody likes wannabe Internet emperialists.
By my standards, I’m pretty welcoming actually. I shill all over people all the time. Gate Opener Zaku. And I shit all over people all the time. Prejudice equality. That’s the opposite of gatekeeping, which is apparently supposed to be some form of specific discrimination or something.
Face it: most of the time, when you complain about gatekeeping, it’s not about them not letting you in, it’s about you getting in everyone’s face. “There’s no hair in my soup? I better throw in an entire cable for good measure. And the world needs to know!” Huh, I wonder why nobody likes that.
So next time, please ask yourself: “Is this something worth freaking out about? Should I act like an entitled Internet Karen and tell other people to fit into my predefined world view as I now get to decide over their lives so I can look like a total asshat in the process?”
Chances are the answer should be “no” but will be “yes”. I don’t have much hope.