In the past few weeks, I have witnessed a lot of bullying and name-calling shaming people who play or enjoy video games. It’s true that people tend to judge people depending on tastes and their hobbies such as people who like Anime since it’s a niche medium. Because of this, people who are not familiar with it will likely hold an ignorant, distorted or uninformed view on it and generalize them to a certain stereotype or label.
When I was a child, I have been bullied, especially during the 6th grade. While some of it has to deal with my race because there weren’t many Asians in the school I attended besides my sister and myself, they also bullied me because I liked Pokémon since other students mostly focused on playing sports or other interests. During that time, I didn’t have many friends, thus I spent most of my time playing with my Gameboy Color alone during recess. It’s not until I got to 7th grade when I started making more friends. Even so, I kept most of my interests to myself until I got to college where I met people who are more open-minded and even have an interest in video games and/or Anime. Since then, I never experienced any instance of bullying.
So, why people tend to bully or look down at people who enjoy anime and/or video games? I think one is the reasons besides not being perceived as “cool” is that people don’t understand these mediums and therefore prejudge it or label people who enjoy them. We see instances of this in Ore no Imouto and especially Nogizaka Haruka with the female protagonists (Kirino and Haruka) since they loved Anime and Otaku subculture. However, they were afraid to share their passion for it since they didn’t want their reputation ruined, lose any friends or have their parents find out. Eventually, their father finds out about it and quickly disapproves their hobbies by deeming their interests as disgusting and perverted without seeing the whole picture. It’s not until they were convinced otherwise that they changed their mind and accepted it. I think this is especially true in real life since there are some instances where a person who has a dislike towards a certain hobby or interest tries it for themselves through a recommendation or out of curiosity and finds out that they actually enjoy it. Even so, I think the peer pressure to be considered cool in a group is also a contributing factor on why people prejudge a hobby or interest even if they don’t mean it so that they won’t feel excluded.
As mentioned in one of my editorials, I shared my thoughts on why people tend to look down at Otakus and gamers. Society tend to negatively view people who enjoy these types of media because of the bad behavior from a small minority. For instance, Otakus in the 90s were harshly shamed because Miyazaki Tsutomu, who murdered 4 girls and he happened to enjoy anime and slasher films. As a result, media called him an “Otaku murderer,” stirring a moral panic against people who enjoy Anime or is into Otaku subculture. We are seeing the same with video games as the mainstream media uses them as a scapegoat every time a shooting occurs. Now, video games are also being blamed for promoting sexism against women when there is not enough scientific proof that it causes such behavior (same can be said about video games causing violence).
It’s understandable why the media tend to scapegoat a certain group of people for liking a certain hobby as a convenient target. At the same time, it’s harmful, ignorant and belittling. When I saw the stream of meaningless articles titled “Gamers are Over” (which is not true) and people opposed to video games calling gamers hateful things like terrorists, MRA (men’s rights activist), misgynerds, racist, “worse than ISIS” or any childish name-calling you can come up with, it reminds me of playground bullying in grade school. We also see similar behavior from people who are not interested in Anime calling Anime fans as weeaboos (people who are overly obsessed with Japan), perverts, nerds, manchild, etc.
While I won’t focus on the topic of sexism since it’s a very thorny issue that I do not want to cover any further (although I do support gender equality and humanism), I feel that these bully tactics does not only make the people who are instigating it look foolish, they are basically harassing all the innocent people who are minding their own business just because of a few bad apples. The sad truth is, there is always going to be fans in the fan dumb that will misbehave and ruin it for everyone. Even so, it’s not an excuse to create a moral panic and belittle a group of innocent people who enjoys a certain hobby just because of one’s misbehavior or you don’t agree with someone on an issue.
In the end, Yumeka brings up a very important point when she shared her experiences of being bullied for liking Anime. She states, “I like individuals, but not people so much.” I do agree with that belief since I believe that fans should enjoy what they like without the fear of being judged as long they are not causing harm to others. I think people should respect their hobbies or interests even if they do not approve or have different tastes. I know that there is going to be peer-pressure to be cool and popular, especially in grade school, which has an impact on self-confidence. You shouldn’t let it bother you. Despite recent events, I still think bullying is becoming less of a problem as video games and Anime (along with Otaku subculture in Japan) becomes popular enough to enter the mainstream.
With that, have you any experiences of being bullied just because you like Anime, Manga, otaku subculture and/or video games? If so, how do you deal with it? Also, what are your feelings on the mainstream media scapegoating video games, Anime, or a certain group of people who enjoy a certain hobby?