In the past, I tend not to talk about these issues.. Sadly, it has gotten to the point that the mainstream media is using them as a scapegoat for all these issues including sites like Anime News Network inserting politics to some of their reviews, thus the discussion becomes polarized. In some cases, this eventually lead to censorship and lack of localization while people shaming others who enjoy these types of media.
I have shared some thoughts about this in the past, but not in full because the issue is very controversial. With that, I want to share my full thoughts about this topic hopefully in a balanced matter.
You might be wondering, why this issue matters to me? While I consider myself as a progressive and support equal rights for all people, it seems troubling that people tend to blame media like video games and anime to the point that they are used as a scapegoat for everything that happens. We have seen this many times when a mass shooting happens, some groups blame video games for causing the violence. Moreover, the oversensitivity culture is also ruining media as well with content being censored and features removed.
The thing that bothers me is that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women wants to push Japan to ban or censor all fanservice and erotic content because it’s sexist against women. To make matters worst, there was another cringe-worthy article I saw a while back that suggest that watching moe anime causes people to become sex offenders, which is outrageous since the author lack facts to back up her claims that this is actually the case.
While the portrayal of female characters is still a controversial issue, the problem I see with the arguments from these groups is that they seem to lack hard evidence that playing video games will cause someone to become sexist towards women or watching a show become a sexual offender. To me, this is the type of argument in which a study is done and eventually come back with a result that there is no link to that said issue. Jack Thompson tried to link video games to violence and he ultimately failed.
Regardless, some video game companies, namely Nintendo decided to censor out or rather dumb down their works out of the fear of receiving backlash from some of these groups that in most cases don’t plan on buying the game to begin with. Of course, these changes anger most fans as they are not able to play the game with all the content. This is evident with the removal of the petting feature in Fire Emblem Fates along with poor quality translations, removal of some costumes in Fatal Frame (despite the game being rated Mature) and the chest size slider being omitted in Xenoblade Chronicles X. Moreover, Dead or Alive Extreme 3 is not being localized out of fear from a potential backlash with Idea Factory deciding not localizing certain games to the west.
To me, I feel that these groups are focusing too much energy on first-world problems instead of focusing on the actual issues. Sure, I wish that there are more stories with capable female protagonists, but I think they should be using their energy to work on the real issues such as fighting for equal pay, paid maternity leave, expanding access to birth control, etc. instead, they go on a crusade against video games, anime, etc. just because it offends them for any reason. I think the reason why it’s easier to strongly attack creative media and forcefully insert politics into a discussion rather than fighting for equality because the latter takes more effort to get results.
I feel that feminism have sadly diverged away from the goals of 2nd wave feminism, a movement that actually fought for equal rights for women (such as voting and reproductive rights to name a few). Aside from adding identity politics into the mix, I feel that the movement today have devolved into the whole “this offends me” type of thing, which in turn hampers any discussion of creative work people enjoy since it becomes heated rather quickly. Moreover, these people also name-calling or insult people who enjoy these types of media and people who don’t necessarily agree with their argument, even if it’s backed up with valid facts and studies.
To me, this kind of behavior undermines the whole movement not because they are complaining about first world problems, but for the fact that they can’t take criticism when someone doesn’t agree with their argument. Aside from the usual name-calling, they will accuse the person that they are being harassed and will try to do mass blocking campaign to get the person who criticized them banned on social networks like Twitter. In some cases, someone have gone to jail for disagreeing with them, which is insane. This is why I don’t want to get involved. Aside from the discussions in most cases being toxic, most people in general are uninterested. People just want to enjoy their video games, anime, etc. and discuss about it.
In the end, people need to realize that inserting politics into everything just ruins everything since it eventually plays with our emotions. This is probably why localized copies of video games come censored with changed dialogs and removed content or even worse, not getting a release outside of Japan or Asia nowadays. Companies are afraid of the backlash from these activists who find everything offensive will go out their way to tarnish their reputation for not conforming with his or her beliefs.
I think things need to go back to the status quo when political correctness meant avoiding speech that can be hateful like radical slurs to intentionally insult certain groups of people while media companies don’t have to worry about receiving backlash for making games like Dead or Alive Extreme 3. I am against censorship as the next guy, but at the end of the day, freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to say anything they want without the potential of being criticized or facing consequences if someone says something that is stupid or genuinely offensive. If a one can’t take criticism for an opinion or statement he or she made, the person should probably not say it at all. However, people have no right to silence other people’s views just because he or she disagrees. As said many times, people are entitled to their opinion no matter if you agree or not.
Lastly, if one finds a piece of media offensive, just vote with your wallet and don’t buy or watch it. Nobody is forcing anyone to watch a show or play a game that you do not like. Sure, anyone is entitled to his or her opinion and discuss the aspects one doesn’t like, but nobody has the right to go around and try to have a game banned or pressure companies to censor content because you don’t like it and suppress other people’s point of view. There are other people out there that might enjoy it. Companies should be able to create works they envisioned without the fear of being told what they can or cannot make as long it’s in the boundaries of the law.
In other words, activists need to focus on the actual issues that matter instead of becoming over-sensitive over things that are trivial. It’s okay to discuss about these issues from these works in a rational matter as long you keep an open mind and keep in mind that media in most cases are fictional. Don’t forget, anime and manga are made for a Japanese audience in mind and they might not conform to western views.
In short, this comic should sum up everything up I said in this long post:
With that, what are your thoughts about this issue? Feel free to share, but please keep it civil.