Life After Conventions

Hey, folks. It’s a bit short and rambly today, and this is another episode that might be a bit of a downer. Here’s the thing… I don’t like what anime conventions have become. I won’t go to any more conventions, at least, not until something changes. Here’s why:



I didn’t really plan out what I was going to say beforehand, and as I played the recording back to myself (you know, checking for background noise and overuse of “Umm”), I was kind of surprised at my own words. I seemed to be advocating starting an alternate space as opposed to trying to hold onto a mainstream space where people like us are clearly unwelcome. Of course, that’s understandable – who wants to make more enemies? But, I’ve also heard other people say that sort of thing, and I thought “that’s quitter talk.”

Let’s just take for example, a non-Eurocentric version of history. I think it puts schoolkids at a disadvantage to not learn the version of history that everyone else in the world is learning. Not to mention, defining your group based on its not being welcome by the mainstream is also kinda feeding into THEIR marginalization of YOU. So, is that not self-defeating? Yes and no. Yes, because it forever defines you and your group as “not normal,” but it’s also just as ridiculous to wholly embrace the idea of a limited version of history. You know what groups were involved in history? All of them. So, rather than breaking off and forming your own version of things, why not push for inclusion in the mainstream? Why does history have to be only about Europe and the US? Shouldn’t it be about ALL of the world? (Answer: yes, it should. If we’re going to understand anything about how history was shaped, then everyone’s story is important).

Back in the day, I kind of saw the “let’s ditch the mainstream and make a space where we can be ourselves and not get kicked in the face over it” as negative self-branding and quitter talk. And yet… I totally empathize with it. Conventions are too busy protecting horny neckbeards from being held responsible for groping cosplayers, so damned if they’re going to protect cosplayers from being groped. What we have here is a predicament. Some people are never going to learn to behave themselves because they define themselves around misbehaving. The terms “Freedom of Speech” or “censorship” will come up.

If Person A defines themself around not fitting in and Person B does the same, then how can there ever be a stable version of a culture that accepts them both? And, really, who wants to be in the “other” category for the rest of their life? Sure, there’s pride about not fitting into the mainstream – let us recognize our uniqueness. But, does it have to be a victim story? Does it have to be something negative? We should build our space through positivity, and a love of our positive traits – that’s the only way to build a healthy and safe community. …But that isn’t what “geekery” means anymore.

So what do we do?

Well, maybe conventions are just one part of geekery. If we have to give up conventions, are we giving up geekery as a whole? Hell no! Geekery is who we are. It’s our pastime, our education, our skillset, our passion. It’s how we met our best friends. It’s how we built ourselves and how we understand ourselves – and a part of that is that we ARE NOT victims. Are the X-men just a bunch of freaks whom no one likes? Or are they also superheroes?! Geekery is for the misunderstood, and when those who misunderstand us take over our space, we will pick up and go elsewhere… and do you know what that means? If we’re the geeks, then when we migrate, WE TAKE THE GEEKERY WITH US! If we are who we are, then it doesn’t matter where we go. Let’s ditch the label but keep the passion and tradition. Let the testosterone-fueled macho men and the mouthbreathing neckbeards and the snarking militant-atheist anarchists “I-didn’t-wear-underwear-because-sheeple-wear-underwear” folks have the old campground. We’re moving on. Let them flaunt their fedoras and T-shirts with rape jokes. We’re going where we don’t need to see that. We’re moving on to whatever comes next, and we will talk about mythology and we will knit and we will read. We will have cosplay tea parties and game nights and trivia quizzes. We will write novels and poems and fanfics, and we will understand when someone is too busy writing to come to an event, and we will critique and promote each others’ creations. Why?

Because we’re us. We may not be “geeks” anymore, but dammit, we understand each other and what we want for ourselves out of life. Contrary to popular belief, we have pride and self-respect, and that includes refusing to lay down and be targets and work our lives around people who don’t accept us – even if those people are using our former name.

So let’s move on together. This is for the cosplayers and the filk musicians. This is for the coders and the writers and the artists and the inventors. This is for the girls who like spaceships and the boys who like baking cupcakes and the people who read books even though a teacher never assigned it to them. This is for the explorers and nurturers and creators and believers. This is for us and for the people like us in the future. Trends come and go and words change their meaning, but we cannot be kicked out of being who we are.

Advertisements

Anime Eye Colours

On today’s podcast, in which I ramble in a distracted hurry, I discuss anime eye colours and what they mean. Possibly I overanalyzed it, but there seem to be tones of evaluating people by race, apparent intelligence, and behavior. I hope I’m wrong – anime, you’re not bigoted, are you? I know you’re better than that. Anyway, here’s the podcast:



The previous podcast episodes I mentioned: Anime Hair Colours and Lost In Translation.

Let’s compare “Kuroshitsuji”‘s images of Sebastian and Ciel with that of Prince Soma.

Monochrome (kiss?)

Monochrome (kiss?)

So colourful!

So colourful!

Oh, and I might have made a mistake. Excel’s eyes are green when I said they were blue. Still, they’re light in colour, so maybe the pattern still works. What do you think?

She's a loud personality.

She’s a loud personality.

Genki Desu!

Genki Desu!

Here’s an example of contrasting normal/subdued with bright and loud. Even though Neptune’s hair is blue-green (which can’t be natural), the muted colour is more subtle than Usagi’s highlighter yellow hair. And look which one is the klutzy loudmouth and which is the sophisticated beauty.
MoonWhat

And the blue-eyed blonde pattern continues…
ep1tinysidemouth
StupidVenus
TamakiSuoh
pantyanarchy
ppgzbubbles

That’s not to say that ANY anime character with blue eyes and blond hair means trouble. Sometimes, it just means they’re white, and the extra fair coloration is to make them look as un-Japanese as possible. It’s not necessarily a purposefully mean kind of Othering. Look at “Hetalia,” for example. Most of Europe is blond, as are the North America brothers. Yeah, America and Denmark are obnoxious and loud and totally fit the gaijin stereotype, but look at Estonia, Norway, Germany, and Holland. Then again… if there are so many people with typically white physical traits, then maybe the white people don’t stand out as foreign in “Hetalia.” Something to think about…

But let’s go with another, clearer example: John Brown from “Ghost Hunt.” He’s Australian, and is clearly the only non-Asian cast member, yet he’s depicted as friendly, responsible, and caring. This gets especially interesting when you compare John to the brown-eyed, brown-haired, fully Japanese Mai and Ayako. Mai is “just yer average high school student,” of course, and Ayako is a Shrine Maiden. And THEY’RE the ones who are a bit lost and emotional. So, no, it’s not applied as a straight-up stereotype. The pattern is adhered to often enough, but not all the time, and not in a purposefully hurtful way. More often than not, it seems to be stock character design, rather than an accusation. I knew you wouldn’t be racist, anime. I know you’re cool.

I’ll just leave you with Tamaki “hugging” Kyouya.
TamakiKyouya

Respectful Hetalia Cosplay

Today we’ve got an extra-long podcast loaded with interesting stories about cosplay, the Hetalia fandom, and everything else.

Draw a circle, it's the Earth...

Draw a circle, it’s the Earth…

Being on your best behavior is always important, but it’s especially important when cosplaying in a fandom like Hetalia, when the series is, well, basically playing around with stereotypes. In today’s podcast, Crys, SJ, and I discuss the good, the bad, and the “what, seriously?” of Hetalia cosplay. We also talk about how Hetalia cosplay can be used for a good cause.

Due to current political concerns, Russia has traded in his plain scarf for a rainbow one to show support for ALL his friends.

Due to current political concerns, Russia has traded in his plain scarf for a rainbow one to show support for ALL his friends.

And finally, I meant to include the post about the Denmark cosplayer’s terrible experience at a photoshoot, but she has since deleted that post.



Girl Power and the Stories We Don’t Tell

If you’ve watched coming of age movies or teen comedies, you might have noticed how they claim to be relevant to “every teenager’s life.” Maybe, though, you had a life that involved actual goals, hobbies, and personal beliefs, in which case those movies were more like a parody of people around you who were drunk out of their minds and trying too hard.

Today’s podcast is for you. Maybe. I can’t claim to speak for everyone, but I can definitely call BS on the one-size-fits-all model of growing up. What western media calls “growing up” is an insult, really. Not to mention, it’s completely focused on the guy’s perspective and ignores girls. There are, however, genres within anime that pick up the slack.



Just in case we need some clarification:

This is growing up.

This is growing up.

This is not.

This is not.

This is independence.

This is independence.

This is not.

This is not.

This is girl power.

This is girl power.

This is not.

This is not.

Capiche?

Anime Icons

It’s another solo podcast this week. Today I talk about Anime Icons, or images from anime that refer to anime properties but also carry meaning all on their own. Click download and have a listen.



Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty brings you peace, love, and more Hello Kitty!

domo
Domo is just Domo, but that could mean anything.

Some fandoms grow from an original text (say, a comic book) and are represented with imagery. Other fandoms started with the imagery and grow a world from there. Both are cool!
batman-logo-big VERSUS Airship

Cthulhu
Maybe there are amigurumi crafters who have never read “Call of Cthulhu,” but that doesn’t make this little guy any less legit.

eFANgelism

My guests today are Rachel and Leeman of Geekually Yoked, a married Christian geek podcast. In a previous episode of their podcast, they coined the phrase “efangelism” and discussed actively recruiting people to a fandom. Today on “Anime, Brains, and Culture,” we explore that idea as applied to otaku culture.

We also explore geekiness, religion, fandom, cliques, tribalism, and bullying. Oh, and Full Metal Alchemist. Give it a listen. 🙂