Ever since Gamergate, and perhaps before then, feminists, progressives and social justice warriors have been embarking on a vain and ultimately futile quest to stick their nose in all aspects of popular culture, wagging their fingers at people who just want to be entertained. Of course, when they realised that they couldn’t get gamers to bend the knee to the religion of social justice, they moved on to a new target – cute anime characters. This new zeal for finger-wagging comes fresh from The Mary Sue, an agenda-pushing feminist site that wags its finger at anything in geek culture they find “problematic”, who wrote an article called “Moé, Misogyny and Masculinity: Anime’s Cuteness Problem–and How to Fix It“.
The premise of the article is pure hogwash. It claims that moé characters, those little sister type characters in anime who are meant to be seen as adorable, are “problematic” and represent an “undercurrent of misogyny” (note: whenever someone says there’s an undercurrent of something, there’s a good chance that he or she can’t provide any evidence to back up their claim). The author, Amelia Cook, goes on a meandering sermon about how moé characters are bad because they’re “unrealistic” and “initialised”, before ultimately discrediting her own argument in the last paragraph, which effectively reads as her saying “moé should be fixed because I don’t like it”. Whether or not you don’t like something about anime (and there are things I find questionable), that’s no reason to demand that it should be changed according to your whims. In the same article she cites the My Little Pony fandom as an example of “grown men challenging perceptions of masculinity through cute pop culture”. In other words, otakus who like moé are evil perverts, but grown men watching a cartoon for six-year-old girls is a good thing? Only in feminism people. Personally I don’t know what part of the article is more contemptible, the fact that she can’t tell fantasy from reality, or the fact that she wants Westerners to “fix it”. Sounds a lot like imperialism to me.
That itself is rather baffling because usually the social justice warriors are big fans of cultural relativism (the belief that one’s beliefs and activities should be understood by others in terms of that person’s culture). They’re more than willing to turn a blind eye to the most viscerally unsavoury cultural practices that can be found in the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, but for some reason they’re offended by Japanese cartoon characters. In fact, the same author seems to have a particular beef with otaku culture, having written an article bashing fanservice over a month ago, declaring that is “normalises the objectification of women”. Nevermind the fact that fanservice featuring male anime characters exists as well. Would Amelia care to mention that? Oh wait, she won’t, or if she brings it up she’ll deny it, because the concept of men being objectified in the same way as women goes against her feminist dogma. I’m honestly sick to death of the whole “objectification” argument, mainly because its only an excuse that feminists and religious conservatives alike can lean on to demand the censorship of art and entertainment. Also, fanservice can be used for comedy. I’ve heard of plenty of anime series’ that do this. Maybe Amelia Cook should check them out.
Of course, the legions of anime fans on Twitter responded swiftly, with the hashtag #OperationMoe having been doing the rounds all week. However, it’s not just anime the SJW’s are after. The Mary Sue is the same sight that accused Final Fantasy XV of being sexist for having an all-male main cast, denouncing its fans as pigs. In fact, social justice warriors have developed a special kind of hatred for Japanese games. I’ve always noticed that Western critics tend to look down on Japanese games and anime with a certain kind of supremacist snobbery, and Japanese developers take notice of this, so they try as hard as they can to make sure their games can appeal to the Western market, and sadly, that leads them to the tragedy of self-censorship. Games like Tokyo Mirage Sessions, which would be completely innocuous over in Japan, often get brutally censored when being released in the West, and sometimes it’s completely pointless.
Of course, if we want to see Japanese works uncensored, we can peruse the internet in all its glory, but my problem is this: they shouldn’t have to censor themselves at all. I think certain Japanese developers are starting to take notice of the kind of pathetic PC culture we are engaged in. When asked by a fan about the bikini costumes in Tekken 7, Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada replied: “ask your country’s SJW’s”, calling out the self-professed culture critics who are so fragile that they get offended by swimsuits.
There is another dimension to the SJWs’ new war on anime, one that makes the “progressive” label that they brandish so much seem bitterly ironic. I think that the Western critics who bash anime so much do this because they think lowly of Japanese culture, or at least their attitudes towards sex. What we have to remember is that Japanese culture is very different to ours. They’re attitude towards gender roles are distinctly more conservative than those in the West, and they perceive sexuality differently. Namely, the Japanese have historically had more permissive attitudes to sex and nudity, and in some ways they persist to this day. Of course, Western critics are entrenched in their own culture, and Japanese attitudes towards sex and/or erotic material is an affront to what feminism has taught them, hence they find it acceptable to avoid an opponent’s argument by mocking his/her anime avatar (if an avatar is present). The ethnocentric bias is present in today’s “culture critics”, which is ironic because they consider themselves diametrically opposed to racism (yet their repeated emphasis on race has all the hallmarks of a racist). If anything, the fact that they treat anime with particular disdain because of Japanese attitudes towards sex makes them the bigots.
To me, this is perhaps an example of the hypocrisy of progressives, as their belief in cultural relativism stops at the borders of Japan, a country that doesn’t seem to be having the same problem with social justice warriors that we’re having. Anime appears to be next front that social justice warriors are fighting, but it’s not a fight that they can nor should win. If I have any advice for Japanese game developers and anime producers who are thinking about the West’s social justice warriors, I think they should ignore them. The SJW’s will always look for new targets, and they will never be satisfied. As for the anime fans, I say keep fighting. The social justice advocates will try and subjugate everything in their midst until everything conforms to their ideological agenda. If you love anime, keep fighting the good fight against social justice warriors who want to police everything you love. The gamers will be at your side, having fought their own battle against agenda-pushing feminists in video games industry (as a side note, most of the games Anita Sarkeesian condemns as “sexist” happen to have been made in Japan). If there are any social justice warriors perusing my site, this message from Twitter is for them.