I Know That Feel, Sis: Activism vs Escapism

Shinji Ikari would certainly know all about depression.

Life sucks. We know this. We live through it everyday. There are those fortunate enough not to experience it in one form or another. And there are people who do have depression.

As you can imagine, you can guess what group I fall in. Earlier, I was reading an article posted by Moe Sucks’s E Minor where he wonders where all the Gene Starwinds went off to. He mentioned a bit of Japan’s economic history and why he was probably created in the first place. And on top of that, reading Willy’s post about how anime is escapism and how someone like me, who usually likes to talk about certain issues in the anime, could take the fun out of it.

Entertainment has always been used to help cope with a crisis, be national or global. For example, when September 11th happened, the famous sketch show Saturday Night Live had a choice to put on a funny show or not. After all, they were in the very city that was attacked that infamous day. However, they had decided to go on with the show because that’s all you can do. As much as it was awful and horrible, life goes on.

So is it any different to view anime the same way? Is it any different to see anime as an escapism? Of course not. Anime, at its core, is entertainment made to entertain the viewer.

But it doesn’t exist in a cultural vacuum. In fact, nothing in entertainment is. Just because it’s an escape doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its issues with whatever the production has.

I am politically active in the United States. I read the (online) news, I vote, I sign petitions, and I have discussions with people on the Internet about the statistics between bathtub-related deaths vs gun-related deaths. I care about my country’s future as much as I also care about my welfare. And because of it, I’ve noticed several things in, not even just politics, but the media I consume that’s wrong and extremely problematic. And it’s not even the media I consume here in America, but the media I consume from Japan and Korea (because I enjoy the music).

And let’s face, there’s a lot of problems.

Don’t you even try!

Could I forgive the media for having sexism and homophobia, for example? To a certain extent, I’d say. In an ideal world, I wish there to be no sexism, homophobia, racism, and other isms which makes it harder to live. But we don’t live in such a world.

Am I going to stop liking things because they have sexism and homophobia? Of course not. In fact, it’ll make me use the issues I have with it as a diving board for discussion. And I love to discuss things, in case that wasn’t already clear.

Obviously, there are those that are just so offensive that I will never touch it with a 10ft pole (two posts in a row, Boku wa Pico).

As Willy pointed out in one of our discussions, that talking about the issues in an anime can really take the fun out of it. Some anime are meant to be mindless fun and there’s a lot that aren’t.

Where’s the borderline? Does it make you any happier to analyze things or to just enjoy a piece of crappy anime fail with its stupidity? Where does it end? Where does it start? Perhaps it boils down to what type of person you are.


6 responses to “I Know That Feel, Sis: Activism vs Escapism

  1. that talking about the issues in an anime can really take the fun out of it. Some anime are meant to be mindless fun and there’s a lot that aren’t.

    I guess I don’t really understand this. Maybe talking about social issues and how they relate to anime is fun for me. Maybe I enjoy using anime as a platform to broach serious topics, because it can be difficult to flat-out discuss things like sexism and homophobia. These words can seem abstract and disconnected in a vacuum. On the other hand, when attached to a story, like an anime, they just become easier to approach. Just because my opinion of an anime goes down as a result of its apparent, say, homophobia, that doesn’t mean I will not enjoy the resulting discussion. And by enjoying the discussion, I may very well gain something positive from the whole experience. As a result, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t like some particular anime. Now, if someone doesn’t want to discuss or hear about social issues in anime, they are free to ignore the discussions that turn them off. I just don’t see the point in dictating what is fun or not fun.

    • You’re right. I think the key with discussion the issues with anime is finding the person who will discuss it. Granted, Willy would talk about it but eventually he gets tired of it (which is understandable).

      Mostly, I get what you’re saying about always wanting to talk about it. It’s like a buzzing feeling or the reels in your head just keep turning and you can’t really throw a proverbial monkey wrench in there to make it stop so you can sit there and laugh as the girl fell down with her tits in the harem lead’s hands.

      I think what I’m trying to find is the balance between the two and is it even possible to do that? See? I can’t stop thinking!

      • Why do we have to find a balance? This presumes that there’s some arbitrary ideal point between the two sides. This also presumes that “girl fell down with her tits” is objectively funny, and if I don’t find it funny, there’s something wrong with me. Why don’t we just each enjoy what we enjoy and if someone wants to hear what the other side has to say, we greet them with open arms. I mean, I guess I just don’t find those harem hijinks funny, and if I don’t, I don’t think it’s to due to any personal failing of mine. Just different strokes for different folks.

      • Fair enough. I certainly didn’t mean to imply there was anything wrong with anyone for having a different look towards how we view anime or find a scene like that funny.

        Perhaps that’s the type of person I am – I’m constantly trying to find the balance of both worlds so I don’t end up extreme on either side. I like to be in the middle of things. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with being extreme of either side.

      • I understand that there’s this meta-cognitive fear that straying too far to one extreme can lead to ideological obstinacy. But I think if one self-reflects and keeps an open-mind, the extremes will not be the traps that they often appear to be. In any case, I know what you’re getting at even if it isn’t for me. Best of luck.

  2. Uhm…i know it does not have anything to do with your post, but…who’s that pink haired character?. Thanks in advance, and sorry to be so random

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