Hello everyone, lets take a step into the way back machine, and travel back to earlier this year, when two films came out. Both had female leads that were chock full of action and CGI, based on comics, and had the political allegory of fighting back against oppressive systems.
Except only one was an acceptable female lead, and the other wasn’t.
That’s right, I’m talking about the rivalry between Battle Angel Alita and Captain Marvel.
Except there wasn’t any rivalry, but a certain segment of fandom sure as heck wanted you to think there was, that Battle Angel Alita was the correct female lead action film that didn’t push a political agenda and didn’t star a woman that hated all men.
And again, those are all lies, because said segment are, in essence, misogynistic, sexist, and more than a touch racist in admiring and promoting a Japanese woman as the ideal over a white woman they see as loud and opinionated.
Allow me to expand upon this.
There’s a very racist stereotype about Japanese women, and Asian women in general, that they make the best wives on account of being just naturally submissive. As such, they’ve not yet been ‘corrupted’ by the influence of feminism here in the West, and thus they’re the perfect woman. After all, they won’t complain about staying home, raising kids, and won’t have a job whose salary is higher than that of their husbands.
This article on Bitch Media is a really good summary of how such a racist stereotype came to be.
And this isn’t just some randos on the Internet saying such things, it’s an attitude I’ve seen time and time again that’s been put into practice. A co-worker once offered me up his wife’s younger sister, both of whom are Filipino, because of this belief, and she’s easily 15 years younger than me.
And then there’s the male gaze seen so often in anime and manga, with the harem genre, where a group of women fight over a singular decent male character, panty shots, hentai and tentacles, and so forth. That’s not to say that our own media here in the West isn’t without the male gaze, but because of the progress we’ve seen with regards to a growing increase in diverse roles and far better writing, anime and manga are seen as safe because of the male gaze that’s seen there.
To call it a gross oversimplification of anime would be an understatement. It also glosses over the many amazing series of anime and manga, such as Battle Angel Alita, K-On (a cute, fun series about a group of girls who start a music club), just about everything that Studio Ghibli has put out, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and others, to name but a few.
Anime and Manga are but different forms of animation and comics, and each come with a vast array of genres and multitudes of amazing stories.
The fans who pushed so hard for Battle Angel Alita to win over Captain Marvel don’t honestly care about any of that, they merely wish to dictate the role of women, and some men. They’re easily one of the best examples of the saying ‘I’d love this more were it not for the fans” and work to gatekeep their precious hobbies that they’ve built their identities around.
Of course, I doubt any one of them would admit to this, partly because they won’t ever admit to any form of racism (or self awareness), but if further proof is ever needed, then simply go to Twitter and look at the profile icons of those who argue the most against diversity of any sort. More often than not, it’s an anime icon, taken from this series or that, and has become as much a sign of someone who’ll argue in bad faith and take part in harassment tactics as seeing the words truth speaker, libertarian, and MAGA in the profile.
Heck, the creation of Vivian James, the Gamergate mascot, in an anime asthetic, with her dead, souless eyes who ‘isn’t like those other girls’ and just want to play games without thinking critically about them is just more proof to me. They’re not going to be uppity, loud, opinionated, and demand more than what they’ve got already. After all, women can vote and drive and work, that means there’s no such thing as the patriarchy!
Ultimately, it’s a sad thing to see. Much like how we see Nazis do their best to appropriate the culture and aesthetic of Norse Mythology, we see these bigots do their best to appropriate anime and manga for themselves.
Of course, the irony that would escape them but certainly isn’t lost on us is that this attempted appropriation is done to try and establish a safe space, something they often accuse the rest of us is futile to try and accomplish.