In middle and high school everyone was a part of a social group, and no matter how cliche’ it sounds today, the aspect of it was true for many of us. There are moments we’d love to forget and others we lament over for the rest of our lives, but when it comes to extracurricular hobbies, you were “branded” or “labeled” based on the type of hobby or activity that you take up. The one hobby-turned-lifestyle that I’m talking about is the Otaku. In Japan the original meaning of the word is another word for ‘Loser’, but in America it’s actually embraced as someone who is passionate about East-Asian culture – anime culture to be exact!
Back in the 90’s it was just finding its way into the popular scene, and was a niche medium at the time. Now 20+ years later its now become mainstream and is embraced by a large percentage of the population. However here’s where things get a little ‘interesting’; if you flashback to all of the times you wanted to be ‘cool’ just like the cool kids, you’d try and find a way to get into the parties that most of the cool kids were throwing. If history has taught us anything, nerds and geeks were NEVER in their wildest dreams invited to any of the cool kids parties. So what did we do? We created our own gatherings and invited other nerds to join us in our geekdom. Now it’s 20-something years later, those geekdoms have become the anime conventions that you see today!
But back to the interesting part; now those same ‘cool’ kids types that didn’t invite you to the parties that they threw, want to join to the party that you threw. Going from niche to mainstream doesn’t come without its challenges; you want to make the medium that you’re apart of inclusive, but you gotta worry about individuals who were never a part of the ‘revolution’ to begin with, jumping into your space.
“When something becomes too popular, there’s bound to be imitators.”
— Brian Griffin
Thinking back to how nerds were stereotyped and treated through media 20-something years ago, the ‘cool’ kids were actually the gatekeepers of popularity. Now that we’ve found our own party and our own gatherings, many of us are doing the exact same thing; keeping the ‘normies’ out. Gatekeeping is one of those things that you really have to be careful about; so much so, that you have to pick and choose your own battles when it comes to this topic. (Video games fall into this category as well.)
‘Cool’ kid types are attracted to popularity and trends, and since anime is now mainstream, that’s where many of em’ are going to go. I’m not saying that gatekeeping is a good or a bad thing, but with a niche medium like anime now among the mainstream ranks, there’s only so much you can do. We just have to remember that as anime fans, there are some people who may be just a little bit curious about it, and if so, we need to educate them on the Anime Fan Etiquette System (A.F.E.S)! (Patent pending, of course! XP)
No matter what fandom you’re in, you’re always gonna have those individuals who may become problematic; in several cases the problematic people may even be some of the fans of the fandom themselves. This is where toxicity among fans or the fandom itself becomes an issue, and we’re pretty sure you guys know which ones are right on the money. Being a part of the anime community myself; I’ve seen it at its best and also at its worst, but in spite of it all I love being a part of this growing community. No one has ever made me feel more welcome that this community, and from the bottom of my heart I want to thank you guys for that! 🙂
So to finish up this post; is gatekeeping in anime an issue? Honestly, it’s one of those questions that depends on who you ask. Many anime fans were bullied (by normies) because of their love for anime, so they feel that it’s necessary to protect what they love at all costs by keeping it strictly for them. On the other hand they wish more people were a part of the community, because anime is more fun with friends and other like-minded people. I believe that 75-80% of the community as a whole is pretty decent and awesome, you just have to avoid the 20-25% who are normies, elitists, cringe buckets, anipolitical weebs, and misogynists.
At the end of the day, you have the final say over what you’re passionate about. If you love anime and it has changed your life in some form or fashion, by all means defend it! Just make sure that the ones or the younger generation that’s curious about it, are educated through the love and passion that anime has brought to you.
That’s my take, stay safe out there guys! 😉