Are People’s Tastes in Media Crap?

Inspired by a years-old post which still holds relevance to this very day. (It also contains a mild spoiler for Hypnosis Mic not addressed by Rhyme Anima.)

Does liking evil things mean you condone them?

This is a moral quandary which I still have to sit with, as an admin of a Hypnosis Mic server whose fellow admin has personal issues with a villain from that series, Keitoin Honobono. Her design was released early last month, sending the server into a frenzy as some people scrambled to change their profile picture to an image of her.

Just to make it clear for those who don’t know, that particular design gives a face to some of the evils Hypnosis Mic fans have been witnessing in recent plotline developments, particularly regarding Hifumi (who this admin feels personally attached to), who was traumatised by her…somehow. We don’t know the specifics of what happened as of the time of writing, but she was the one who gave him the gynophobia you see in Rhyme Anima and elsewhere.

The argument by people who liked Honobono’s design was that they can like it without being shamed for what Honobono has done. However, by trying to argue the opposite in defence of this admin was a losing battle, because not everyone knew he felt personally attached to Hifumi because he had similar trauma to him. (Also note, this admin doesn’t make their love of Hifumi particularly known in the first place, possibly for this reason.)

This brings me to the post linked above the cut – why do people call other people’s favourite media “shit” (please excuse my French)? (For some reason, it’s a bit of a joke in some people’s neck of the woods, especially anime and manga fans’, to do this.)

Unpacking the myriad reasons why this happens would take an eternity, but one possible reason is people don’t see the work the same way and thus, one side sees something immoral about it via some sort of conflation, as discussed in the anecdote above. For some reason, the internet likes to devolve into the need for hardline stances, especially on places where you can come and leave at any moment, like Discord and Twitter (oh, Twitter… *sighhh*), which is why some people say “all of your taste is crap” and call it a day.

You can like works without liking parts of them – for instance, people don’t really like Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu‘s ending because of things it implies. I get that, but don’t shame me for it – I love SGRS because I can see my own artistic and personal experiences within the man who becomes Yakumo Yurakutei the 8th, plus the way the story can play with the idea of memory and its offbeat sense of humour, matching the sometimes grim, sometimes lighthearted humour in its central art itself. (I’ve had to confront that all over again as I go through the manga and yes, reading the manga tells me it absolutely deserves the high scores I gave it in anime form.)

You are also allowed to like different media for different reasons – SGRS may be a favourite in the anime criticism neck of the woods, but Hypnosis Mic is extremely problematic in that regard and will never be loved there, simply because a lot of makes Hypnosis Mic valuable to fans, including myself, is not there in the anime – it’s scattered across various manga, drama tracks/songs and the mobile game, with varying levels of accessibility depending on languages you know, what fan spaces you hang out in and so on.

Likewise to a point I said earlier, you can see yourself in media or seeing media can make something awaken in you. Both are okay, but identity politics, while valuable to some extent, should not have to rule everything – for example, transgender people’s identity issues are commonly explored through fantastical or sci-fi means. However, by the idea of conflation touched upon earlier, this falls into a trap of saying trans people cannot exist outside of fantasy and sci-fi. While it is most valid to hear about certain experiences from people who have lived them – identities you can or might be, such as with trans people, and identities which may be barred to you by genetics, such as with Asian people – quality research can overcome this deficiency.

Remember, art isn’t made in a vacuum – it encapsulates the time, place, space and the creator/s that made it. The creator’s understanding of concepts they are not familiar with might be flawed and you, the audience member, might have to reckon with that. Alternatively, you might see something that might not have been intended.

I think, after all this blabbering, the LGBTIAQ+ adage might actually work here (albeit with some extension) – you are valid, whatever you choose to be and whatever you choose to consume, and your interpretations and identity are also valid. You can choose to change your mind on what you think about something, too.

So to answer the question in the title…people are only crap when they either 1) force their opinions on to others, as in gatekeeping, and/or 2) generalise and/or judge too much (as in, saying “all of your tastes in media are crap” without reasoning).

If we try to understand people better and listen to their reasonings on things, we can then figure out why they like the things they do and possibly how it shaped them, leading to a better understanding of ourselves as well.


This was a very dense post – which could have easily spawned several posts of its own (in fact, it’s brought an idea about anime feminism into my mind which I’m going to start on soon, as of the writing of this post) – and I don’t recall having responded to this post here before, so I don’t know if my line of reasoning comes through okay. After a certain point, the starting sentence of the paragraph explains the entire point of the paragraph, but not for all of it *sweatdrops*.

3 thoughts on “Are People’s Tastes in Media Crap?

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  1. This is a very interesting point especially in the particular fandom this sparked from. I have no clue about Hypnosis Mic aside from my friend’s fanart and your posts but… this seems a bit out of my league and that’s fine.

    Aside from taste… I didn’t know we escalated from ‘your taste is trash’ to your ‘your taste is crap/shit’. I had always used that in a limited capacity with irl friends, usually remarking on how they only seemed to watch the same genre, etc. My useage was always in the friendly ‘lol, we all have trash taste, but that’s why we’re in the dumpster together’. Seeing the real useage outside of my own bubble… I probably should have known better but it’s a shame people make broad sweeping generalizations like that.

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  2. It’s just flickering images on a monitor screen, not instruction on how to live a virtuous life.

    It is also cool to have fantasies about things you would never do in real life. You can’t hurt an image on a flickering screen. In some cases it even serves a valuable service as a pressure release valve, thereby protecting the public.

    No two people look at the same anime and see the same thing. Your traumatic life experience does not mean that someone who enjoys watching something that “triggers” you contributes to your trauma. “Triggering” is entirely a function of the processes inside your brain and not the moral turpitude of anyone who doesn’t share the trigger.

    A good villain is a thing of beauty. And a villain does (virtual) evil cruel things or they wouldn’t be a villain.

    Some people lose track of the difference between the virtual and real worlds.

    Like

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