For a long time, I avoided sharing my views on how people view tastes in Anime since it is a controversial issue in the fandom. While some anime bloggers shared their thoughts on the issue, there are many reasons why I do not subscribe to the view there is such thing as good/bad tastes.
First off, what is a taste anyway? It’s basically another word that refers to someone’s preferences or things that a person likes. For instance, someone might enjoy playing violent video games while another person prefers Japanese role-playing games. These tastes and preferences are influenced by our personal experiences, beliefs and upbringing, which in turn makes everyone unique.
Since every person is different, people’s relationship with media is rather complex for the fact that people grow an attachment towards it when they find an emotional connection for certain types of media he/she experiences. Obviously, this is where things gets personal when people start judging others based on what shows you watched, books you read or games you play. This in turn reduces the relationship between the person and the media to something like “X show sucks and this loves enjoys it and therefore, you have bad taste or you are stupid.” This kind of reasoning is not only harmful, but it also makes the person who is instigating it look elitist. I admit that I watch a lot slice of life shows with cute girls and not all of them are particularly groundbreaking. However, these are the types of show that allows me to relax. This is perhaps the same reason people watch anime that have comedy, ecchi, action, romance, mecha or violence. They are meant to be enjoyable to watch. The entertainment factor from media can explain why people grow an emotional attachment to some shows and/or characters, good or bad.
On the other hand, I feel that stereotypes play a role on why some people judge others based on their tastes. As mentioned in a previous editorial, society and mainstream media tend to look down at Otakus and gamers because of bad behavior from a small minority. By using this reasoning, should we consider a person as a complete loser just because they enjoy harem romance anime with ecchi? Should we call a person a complete anime newbie just because their favorite show is Naruto or One Piece and they don’t know what quality anime is like? To me, I don’t find it very productive to judge people based on their preferences and/or bully them by applying stereotypes on them or . We should judge them by the actions they take, not something silly like tastes and preferences. For instance, there are people out there who enjoy watching shows with fanservice or those who enjoy violent video games that are kind, hard-working people in real life. Basically, they are normal people who just prefer a certain type of media and it does not make them automatically bad because of it.
Moreover, I feel that political views can be another reason people view someone’s taste as bad. While Japan cares less about political correctness and would rather make shows/games that everyone enjoy, we are seeing the opposite with the gaming fandom in the west with the opposition calling gamers sexist or misogynist while the other side say that the opposition is too extreme or call them SJWs (Social Justice Warriors). While I take no side in the issue and think the issue is rather toxic to even talk about because of the bad behavior from both sides of the issue, one thing is clear: name-calling and harassing each other does nothing but make the problem worse. To me, I would rather see people act reasonable and not automatically judge people just because they enjoy a work that one might find offensive. If you find it offensive, just vote with their wallet in the marketplace of ideas and don’t play/watch it and support those that do. People are free to share their beliefs and discuss about it in a rational manner even if I don’t necessarily agree with everything. At the end of the day, I think most people only care about the entertainment value of media and not for a political agenda. Besides, any discussion about politics gets dirty rather quickly.
As a whole, do tastes matter at the end of the day? Like with reviews, tastes and preferences are highly subjective and therefore, I don’t think good or bad tastes exists since there is no such thing as good or bad media, it’s all based on opinion. People will have different opinions on shows that you find enjoyable. In short, even if a person has an emotional attachment for a particular work, one shouldn’t be offended just because he/she doesn’t like it. Closing yourself to criticism not only makes the problem worse, but you won’t truly understand why you have a relationship with a particular piece of media you like in the first place. You have to give people good reasons on why you think a show is good or not and have an open mind. Of course, this holds true for any type of criticism, not just based on tastes and preferences.
Lastly, I feel that judging or bullying people based on their tastes for certain types of media because of one’s preferences or political beliefs are rather childish. People are free to enjoy any shows, movies, games or books they like. They shouldn’t be considered bad people or be bullied just because someone does not like it or they enjoy a piece of media that does not fit one’s political views. At the end of the day, I don’t think good/bad tastes should matter at all. People should judge others by how they act and have an open-minded view on media.
With that, what are your thoughts on tastes? Do you think there is such thing as bad or good tastes? Do you think that political views are a factor on why people judge others based on their tastes?
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2 Comments… read them or add your own.
This is a tough one to suss out because I think two criteria need to be at work. Audiences are going to have a different criteria for what constitutes good and bad taste than critics, and rarely do I see the differences called out. If someone who just watches for fun doesn’t like what I like, that’s one thing — but if someone who wants to be taken seriously as a critic says I have bad taste because I like something dumb, that’s not going to cut it. He can criticize the *material*, but he needs to stop short of saying snide things about the *audience*. (On the other hand, if his fellow critic makes what he sees as a shoddy argument in defense of something, then he’s free to tear into that argument — but again, that’s about keeping things on the right level of discussion. Personal attacks should be off the table.)
I can understand where you are getting at for the fact that critics should really review the work they are set out to do, not attack other people’s tastes because not only it leaves a bad impression on the readers, but causes them to become offended. While criticism is okay, personal attacks against someone or a group is not okay. This is something that caused a lot of rage in the gaming fandom that is going on for nearly three months now (I don’t follow it since I don’t have a position), but it’s clear that if one write articles titled “Gamers are Dead” or we need to end Gamers just to push your agenda aggressively, one is going to have a mob of angry fans after them. The same can be said in regards to saying people having bad taste or saying people are stupid because they like this show as this kind of behavior is akin to bullying. I think people need to not only be able to take criticism with an open mind as mentioned earlier, but realize that tastes are subjective just like reviews.