Monday, September 26, 2016

Isn't it Awfully Nice to Have a Penis: How a Porn revolution is Japan's last best hope for a piece.


We're gonna go straight into the gutter and bulls-eye some sexy sexy Womp Rats in a T16. 

Links are relatively SFW but the Wikipedia page for the Kanamara Matsuri has photos of endless penis sculptures. So... there's that.

Some messed up but not surprising news out of Japan

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/could-japans-virgins-kamikaze-nations-future-1582082

There is obviously some sensationalism going on, but let's shake the dew of this lily anyway shall we?  Hikikomori is a bad thing, but the Japanese keep on using that word.  I do not think it means what they think it means.  You see, there's a literal meaning tied to it, meaning that you never leave the house, but at this point there's more to it.  There is another kind of Hikikomori, one lost soul in a big fish bowl... with lots of other fish there too but they don't really do anything.  Alone in the big city.  Simply put, people who go out and work for a living and do stuff, but don't really bother with human contact past a utilitarian function.

There is basically not enough banging going on in Japan.  In terms of causal factors, it may not be just because people are too uptight.  It's actually because of 1950's American Puritanism and the very strange "obscenity" laws that exist in Japan.  This has led to some weird portrayals of sex in both regular media, but also more importantly teh pr0nz.  Seriously, have you ever see Japanese porno?   It's all censored out isn't it.  That's because of laws that were put in place during the American Occupation.  Yeah, the geniuses running that decade thought it best that even 70 years later, no one should ever actually be able to see what the naughty bits do when you want to get laid.  So what happens?  Well besides the inevitable evolution of tentacle porn, it relies on over emphasized actions, fetish outfits, and for some reason no music what so ever (seriously, haw can you have happy naked time on video without a little bow-chick-a-wow-wow)?  I know music isn't something that is showing up in modern stuff, but that's a few generations ahead of what we're talking about.

Oh wait, did I say happy?  Forget that, because if you've ever seen Japanese porn you'd already know that it comes across as more of a portrayal of genuine torture rather than consensual humping. Seriously you never see someone having less fun during sexy time than a woman in a Japanese porn. Here is why that's a pretty bad thing;

We are in the internet age.  Women are gonna see it at some point.  They just are.  And if that's what they see, it's no wonder they're thinking "why the fuckshithell-hellshitfuck would I wanna do that?" or at least be like ...ew.  Not only does it come off giving the impression of being about as pleasant as getting cavities filled with no anesthetic, you can't even really see what's going on so your imagination is going to conjure up something that is the reason for what is portrayed as the obvious painful condition resulting from banging.  If you've never had sex before and your first time seeing it is in a video where a woman is literally crying through the entire experience, it's going to give the impression of something unpleasant.  Something has gotta change there.

Yeah, totally looks like she's having oh so much fun there.

Enter sex-positive porn directed by women ...and some dudes also. Seriously, live or animated, decent porn is going to change young attitudes towards sex and in turn, various relationships.  They're not gonna be deep though because, let's face it, nowhere in human civilization does there come a deep emotional understanding before the humping impulse, male or female, gay or straight, anything in between, when you're that age.  For everyone at that age, it's humpy time first, and "what's your favorite color?" later (don't tell me it's not, you're wrong, I said so, so there, infinity, nany-nany boo-boo).

Porn, no matter what you want to call it (awesome, obscene, bad influence, necessity), is still art.  Maybe bad art sure, but life doth still imitate it.  Think about your early sexy-time having.  Yeah sure it was probably a bit awkward, but what if all you had to go on before that was Japanese porn?  Yeah, it goes from awkward to horrific.  And it's not going to get any better unless obscenity laws are changed and they legalize the whole shebang sans mosaic censoring.  Soft, hard, hetero, gay, lezbot (no I actually mean lesbian robots, it's a thing, you can look it up) amateur, Inu Yasha and Kagome but like... both of them having a good time, it's not that hard to do.  And it's not wrong to do.  What, you think Inu Yasha and Kagome didn't want to just friggin get it the hell on even once?
 
Oh yeah, you know where this is goin'...

"But Dojinshi totally fills that need!" some non-Japanese otaku are saying at this point. Quiet, you. No it doesn't... How could it?  It's being made by the same sex starved idiot morons that have grown up in the sexually suppressed world of post-war Japan.  And even if it did, c'mon, Dojinshi?  How many regular Japanese women are going to keep that stuff around where they live let alone actually go to the kinds of places you have to in order to buy it (I'll give you a hint, it's somewhere between zero and who gives a shit percent of the population).  Besides Doujinshi is more part of the problem than a solution, since some stuff I've seen comes from sources that obviously have no idea what so ever how actual fucking works.

What Japan needs is a big fat shot in the arm of nice fun SEX... While like they say in Kinky Boots, "sex shouldn't be comfy" which is kinda true, it also shouldn't be unpleasant, so that needs to be dealt with.  And while people are into all kinds of stuff (yeah even you ladies, we know), there are general ideas and trends that you can use to put your best foot/boob forward.  And while we can say that most American pornography may portray things a bit unrealistically, it's because it is mostly the positive aspects that are enhanced for the audience that it works, you can just as easily amplify the worst parts about sexy time until it actually looks like something you'd prefer not to do in favor of stepping on thumbtacks with bare feet.  Seriously, it's not hard to make porn look like fun on at least a very basic level.  I think there are things about it that make it pretty easy to do that...


...subtle.

I'd say that the government should not only drop the obscenity laws that prevent even seeing sex parts, but also actually try to foster startups which produce material that will appeal to a wide audience between the genders.  The problem is, that's probably about as likely as the Saudi Royal Family opening up a Dinosaur BBQ Pulled Pork Palace right in the middle of Riyadh.  The powers that be in Japan seem to have a major problem with a certain part of the female anatomy.  Whether it comes from a long tradition of just not liking "icky" things or a stuffy prudishness which somehow almost all old people on earth seem to have, there's one part of this equation that they don't like even admitting that it exists, let alone somehow allowing anything glorifying it.  Even though it's an important thing to have around, especially when they keep talking about a dangerously low birthrate.

Not wireless headphones.

Not only weeps the crow, but also weeps the popinjay.  Enter long suffering artist and activist Megumi Igarashi, AKA Rokudenashiko ...come on you know I couldn't cover this subject without bringing her up.  She was put under government scrutiny for simply cartooning a vagina in a published work, and then arrested for paddling a kayak with the opening 3D printed in the shape of her own hoo-ha which should have obviously been seen as not a pornographic representation of anything, just weird art.  She might have a good idea, or she might just be some weirdo, but the mere fact that she got arrested sends a clear message of pure hostility regarding nudity in any form as something that will not be tolerated.  And like I said here already, that leads to people thinking poking at a woman randomly through soaking wet white underwear is somehow sexy, enjoyable, or fun for anybody.

This official stance of what seems like hating sex and beating it like the Fratelli Brothers beat Sloth tied to a chair in the basement has turned the mere concept of it into something that people are now simply finding unappetizing, and who can blame them?  In Japan there are several festivals that are all about giant dicks everywhere but a Vagina kayak will get you jail time?   What does that even mean?  This ridiculousness is a symptom of governments around the world and Japan is no exception; of knowing the solution to the problem, and simply refusing to do it because... reasons.  Until people in government don't just dip their toes in the water and then just look around nervously, but actually just jump in feet-first, this is only going to be one of the reasons that Japan continues to evolve into something that's too weird for its own good.

This kind of thing is dumb. It will always will be dumb.

Social aspects play another major role and we haven't covered them as they apply to porn.  It's almost as if they're made to punish the women to participate in it simply for being involved.  They can come from marginalized groups like Burakumin and if you did a study, you'd probably find a higher percentage of that group than average doing the porn thing (actually I'll bet there's already a study out there but I'm not going to go looking for it, this is long enough as it is).  So there's that working against the acceptance of pron as well.

This is not even about birthrates (again, something I've talked about before ...8 years ago).  Having children is a whole separate issue, and until Japan falls out of love with Tokyo and actually starts developing areas by economic sectors, none of this younger generation is going to find that prospect appealing, since housing, commuting, and employment (or lack thereof), all make child rearing seemingly inaccessible.

 
Maybe another branch of government will be able to help.

I've just been informed that womp rats are in no way sexy at all.
 
Good night, good luck, and おまんこございます.


 



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lost at Sea: When you build a house of cards on the ocean, it falls down.

-
For Producers.
That's not my department.

There's no business like show business.  But there's many businesses that, well ...do business.   One of the repeating themes written about here, is that manga, anime, games, and the like, are indeed products of businesses, and as such, those businesses require certain business functions to occur and to be sustainable.  Another aspect that is equally important is Business Architecture, Supply Chain Management, and how it fits into Corporate Governance.

The large publishers and studios are part of much larger companies which are sometimes part of sizeable Keiretsu.  From the obviously diverse such as SONY or Fujisanke, to the 'you probably didn't realize one of their biggest divisions is food-products' Bandai, or the 'you think they're just publishers but guess where their assets are' Kadokawa and Shogakukan Inc.  Just because a large company doesn't  have any divisions or subsidiaries outside their core industry, doesn't mean that all their assets are in that industry too, that's what investment banks are for (even you Kosdansha).

So they have their chips spread out a bit, that's good for a big company right?  It certainly can be, but every once in a while something can come along and actually truly mess that right the hell up. The collapse of global shipping is one of those "somethings" I just mentioned.


What, Me worry?


If you aren't already, you really should be aware of the giant mess that's still going on because of the insolvency of Hanjin.  You know, those shipping containers on those trucks you have to drive past on your way to work at the mall.  See, that's a big company and the stuff you're selling at your job at the mall is in that truck right there heading to the mall right next to you.  Hanjin was one of the largest global shipping companies in the world.  Don't think for a moment that this won't mess up all of global trade and the entire economy on some level.  There are still ships still stranded at sea right now because ports won't accept Hanjin ships without payment up front (oh yeah, you didn't know? Parking isn't free at these places), and deadlines are way out the window at this point.  Second to a $20/hr minimum wage, this is Walmart's worst nightmare.


Pictured: Not a viable option.


Another thing you shouldn't go thinking to yourself, is that this won't effect the Japanese economy as a whole just exporters or whatever, and thus anime, manga, media entertainment will stay immune.  That's like thinking just because Hanjin was a Korean company it's only going to effect Korean interests and like, your Samsung Galaxy is gonna be 2 weeks late.  One of the biggest sectors hurt by this (shipping in general, not just Hanjin) is German banking.  Large companies lean on each other more than they themselves even realize and a supply chain fiasco for 7-11 Holdings could easily end up causing another company to spin off their animation or manga division to focus on their core (the core is never anime and manga).  SONY starts missing its rare earth element shipments for whatever and all of a sudden selling Aniplex seems like an easy choice to make.  I'm using SONY as an example because it's an easy simple one, but I am sure there are all kinds of interwoven relationships that connect just about every company to this.  So that's just a direct example.  Investment banks losing out means they can drag other unrelated companies down with them and all of a sudden there's no one around to finance a non-Miyazaki Gibli film (what, you thought they paid for those things 100% out of pocket?).


I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a docking slip today.


This is the kind of thing that most areas outside the core industry (global shipping) don't feel the effects of until the better part of a year later.  Like a Brown Recluse Spider bite, the poison is in, but the damage has yet to manifest.  It's a domino effect that can either go on for a long time or stop short, depending on who does what, and none of the answers for what to do are easy ones.

So will this have an effect on the producers themselves?  Most certainly, but that effect could be everything from a minor hiccup in which a project or two gets delayed, to a full on mass-extinction event where only small studios and independent producers or entities with more of an international footprint come out of it mostly unscathed.   But what kind of consumer environment will they emerge into?


For Consumers.
But what about the rioting?

Howdy, Neighbor!

What I mentioned above is just one part of the situation.  The other part is the potential devastation on a socioeconomic and political level that another big collapse can have for Japan itself.  Japan has already got some serious problems despite the rosy picture those employment statistics are portraying, and an economic cluster-fuck that involves something like global shipping (that thing Japan really needs), could make those problems seriously worse.  People often think certain places are simply immune to civil unrest, but the actual reality is that those places just need a different recipe for it than what we commonly see.  Japan itself is no stranger to such things, from good old fashioned riots, to the inevitable police overreaction, political assassinations on live TV, and even a whole entire attempted coup in 1970 (spoiler alert, it did not work. But the fact that they still give tours of the building -still an active part of the JSDF Boesho Complex- and the room where Mishima bit it makes you wonder...).

Remember that diversity thing I mentioned in the last post?  Well that also has the potential to turn ugly if the economic and social climate deteriorate enough.  If you can imagine things getting just tense and bad enough, then one day in Tokyo these guys are gonna run into these guys on the street and it will go beyond dirty looks and simple posturing.  When things turn to recession as the norm, the first groups to receive negative attention are the ones that weren't there before.  Instead of being something that strengthens Japan, a certain climate exacerbated by this global crisis could make it a flashpoint for injury.  If that happens, this kind of thing is going to make it hard to keep up business as usual for manga because it's kind of impossible to do said business as usual when the book store is on fire.  That's an extreme.  What is more likely is that it will simply effect domestic tastes in entertainment media as well as purchasing power of consumers as a whole. Times of fluctuation like this are hard but usually met in the long term with a greater overall strength (just look at the UK or US in the 1960s).  It is during that time that there is also a genuine surge in the progression of popular and contempora-neity (that's contemporary + inane) culture, where new things which were barely conceptually thought of become reality in record time.  So this is going to be one hell of a ride either way.


But I luvz mah Bubble... Luvz mah Bubble


Don't fart.

I know there are still some people out there who think that because they read their manga digitally and that anime isn't something that gets on a container ship and goes through the Straights of Malacca, that Hanjin going down like the Titanic won't change anything regarding the entertainment media they love (yeah you love it so much you devalue the license by reading and watching bootlegs you monsters).  There's nothing I can really show you here that's going to change your mind, because it's all over the horizon outside a direct field of vision.  But don't worry you'll know when it gets here.


What, You worry?


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Who Let You in Here? ...Japan's diversity and what it may mean.



Something I was a while back but wanted to bring up; there have been a few news stories regarding the level of geopolitical and racial/ethnic diversity of people who are living and mostly working in Japan.  The basic message to take away is that amount people who are not Japanese come to live, work, fart, eat ice cream, whatever, in Japan, as legal resident foreign workers has increased.
 
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/11/national/japan-sees-record-high-number-foreign-residents-justice-ministry/#.V9mSDDWwn9A

It is important to point out that this group of course does not include tourists, students, or people coming over on working holidays, but applications for a permanent residency.  These segments may still be in danger of declining, due to some serious stubbornness of the JPY to at least wave to reality from shore. The JPY to anything else exchange rate has been a bit of a hindrance to Japanese business in international theaters, from exports to tourism, and until the rest of the world gets richer or Japan devalues the Yen, it's gonna stay an issue.
 
  Exchange Rate is too damn high!
...almost no one is gonna get this reference.
Not like I haven't mentioned it before.
 
There are also more people overstaying their visas as well.  The article seems to not go into a high amount of detail regarding the type of overstay, such as a student or tourist that takes an extra day or two, versus someone who decides that this decade they are totally gonna get around to that immigration status thing they're sure of if, or even the "you're not really Japanese" surprise deportation


However, the news is basically that Japan has more foreign born residents living and working there than ever before, and that is significant, not only because of the numbers themselves, but the fact that this phenomenon is credited to government efforts to make it so.  While the country's economy is huge, what most people (including economists) would consider "diversity" has been close to nonexistent when compared to North America or Europe... even China is difficult to compare because within China there is a profound cleavage of different ethnic groups which comes from the massive geographical footprint the country has.  It's big... China is a big place is what I am saying. 

The question that really matters is, will they stay in enough quantities to be significant?  That's hard to tell.  If the past two Miss Japan pageants are any indication, then the answer not only seems to be yes, but also seems to be that social acceptance of such things will also increase as well.  But no don't pop the cork on the Champagne just yet... actually, but it back in the cellar, it's going to be a while.
 
http://nextshark.com/priyanka-yoshikawa-miss-japan-2016-cyberbullied/
It's actually progress considering what happened in 2015 when you think about it


Assholes not withstanding, the fact that this has happened is a big deal.  Foreign workers have been in Japan for decades,and often have found that unless you're some sort of finance hot-shot (read: white male), you can often get treated like total crap.  Remember this poor bastard from 17 years ago?  Well he ended up staying and now Japanese High School boys are dating his "hafu" daughter. 


But the difference now there is now an official position from Japanese government institutions on the matter and that position is explicit.  You know how often Japanese institutions do things explicitly, yeah it starts with "almost" and ends with "never" genius.  A government realization that the place isn't going to stick around if Japan runs out of people is finally being accepted in certain areas, so they're going to have to import a bunch of humans who aren't over 70 years old (and you people thought robots were gonna happen).  While racism and classicist ideologies will continue to be entrenched in Japan just like everywhere else and not go away just because, with this action by the government itself is a step in the opposite direction of such ideals, and now a necessity due to Japan's serious aging problem... Remember when I brought this up before...  of course you don't.

Now you may ask yourself "so the fuck what, what does this have to do with the next issue of Shonen Jump or whatever the crap I am gonna illegally download a scanlation of and not just buy like a normal customer" or something to that effect.  Well, guess who now is going to make up a portion of actual paying customers.  Them there fah-rin-ars livin' over in that J-pan.  So what we will see is a slow, gradual acceptance of themes that have a bit of a wider appeal, but are still inherently Japanese.  Remember that Galapagos Effect that I was...oh fuck it I know you don't. Well this has the serious potential to push it in the other direction.  Where does human migration/immigration/people showing up places manifest more quickly or integrate more thoroughly than popular culture?  The correct answer is food, but popular culture comes in a strong second.  So this trend, if continued, is actually going to make a difference in the the typed of entertainment products that companies are willing to invest in. 

The mistake people reading this might make, is that I am insinuating is that such an influence will create new works at the expense of others, and that somehow Naruto or Sazae-san is going to go away forever in favor of "Brazil Philippine Soccer Buster Wars, the French Edition" or something like that.  While it could be argued that something like shelf-space or artists are a finite resource, what this means is more likely that something new will be created where there was nothing like it before.  Is this a marker for that possibility?  Could be.


Stay tuned for Part 2.  The other side of the coin.



Friday, September 2, 2016

Cinematic Suckage: Oh shit he's talking about Ghostbusters.



As much as I would like to make this nothing but a review of Ghostbuster 2 and be like "haha made you look" I am actually going to cover a topic which is exemplified by the most recent Ghostbusters movie release in 2016.

Remember when I mentioned that large cinematic productions in the USA were going to start becoming very different because of international influences?  Of course you don't you were 15 back then and now you're in college and you are spending most of your time trying to shut down the campus cafeteria because "taco Tuesday" is cultural appropriation.  No not all of you but there is totally at least one person out there doing that who is also reading this.  But some furry weirdo who I've totally never met in real life over at Geek Nights which is totally not something I've ever heard of has sent some peopl here who got all butt-hurt because I wrote something about Wizard World and SJW bullshit and apparently SJW now means something that applies to way more people than it should, and I get called me an Alt-Right GamerGate MRA or something (I actually had to look up what Alt-right was ...being a volunteer for the Green Party I was kind of surprised at that label, and I have steadfastly refused to learn anything about Gamer Gate at all... seriously I still have no idea what it is other than something to do with video games and Gawker/Kotaku and since I can't play games because of extremely poor eyesight, I still don't feel like learning anything about it.  Seriously for a while I thought was a literal gate of some kind).   Either way, whatever I did was apparently way worse than planting land mines outside a school in the in civil war combat zones of The Democratic Republic of the Congo right fucking now... go ahead google it, there's some terrible stuff happening there. I know you wouldn't know how to find that country on a map let alone name the capital of it (so I'll give you a hint, it's Kinshasa).   I think all it takes is a few minutes to read other posts here to realize that I am so leftist that I am almost, but not quite, a walking Che Guevara t-shirt.  Yay, it's the second paragraph and we're already way off topic.

But back then, what I did say, was that in order movies to access the Chinese market, which is something that studios are now starting to depend on rather than considering it just gravy, films have to comply with the Chinese censorship laws which are pretty much just arbitrary and antithetical to American values in terms of having a government body determine what is and is not allowable.  Seriously just go read the thing. American creative works have thrived because of the protections afforded by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and organizations like the ACLU and the CBLDF.  There is no other country in the world that allows creative freedom on the level that the USA does (seriously, even when we sold DVDs in Canada and Australia at Crash Media, we need approval from their Federal and Provincial governments regarding content).  China is pretty high up on the list of heavy-handed shit when it comes to censorship in media, and the hoops that major companies jump through not only effect what the final film is on a fundamental level, but do not serve as a guarantee that the film itself will still be approved for China.  So after following all the "rules" that the government of The PRC has, there is still a chance that the film will still be declared inadmissible.

I actually haven't seen the movie.  I actually haven't seen a movie in a theater for about 4 years now and I don't plan on doing it any time soon, since paying $20 to sit in an uncomfortable chair while trying to watch a movie over idiots on their phones and other people's farts isn't my idea of a good time.  However, I have come across a number of reviews and the negative aspects mentioned seem to have a significantly common small number of themes. So here are some of the main points that are brought up in recent reviews, and why they may have a bit more to do with China than you might realize:


The Visual Effects Sucked:
If you look into the history, you'll find that this Ghostbusters movie was submitted more than once to the Chinese government for approval.  They didn't submit the same version twice, they made some changes.  The reason the ghosts looked like crap, were cartoon-like, or didn't stay true to the original movies, is because they were all re-done after the first time China rejected the thing on the "realistic supernatural" grounds.  It changes didn't take, and it was still rejected.  It's probably not because they didn't toonify the ghosts enough, but because one of them had an Uncle Sam USA Stars and Stripes outfit on.   Seriously, if you think your stupid company you work for is in the dark ages regarding what kind of imagery is appropriate, imagine what kind of bubble the Party of the PRC lives in.


The Jokes Fell Flat:
Of course they did.  The humor this movie needed is high-context, but that almost never translates well.  You ever notice how just about every big Hollywood production seems like it was written by someone who is deliberately making it easy to translate into languages other than English?  So in stead of "Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!" we get ecto-puking slapstick, a Linda Blair impression, and a nut-shot. It was likely being written by someone who was deliberately making it easy to translate into languages other than English.  The important language in that mix is Chinese. It is, I'm not making this up.   This is the reason that things like nuance, colloquialisms, and high-context humor are avoided.  They are very difficult to translate because you can't just literally replace the words, but you have to find a cultural equivalent strong enough to convey the implication or idea.  The PRC and the USA  don't share much modern cultural equivalence.  Therefore, the simpler the joke, the easier it will translate.  This is why the nut-shot on the marshmallow man isn't sexist.  It's a nut-shot, which have been funny since Ancient Egypt and remain funny to this day.


Misogyny:
ZOMG TRIGGRZ!!!!!  What do you think is more misogynist, the American movie-going public, or the Communist Party of China?  C'mon you know it's the second one.  Sexism in China is much more entrenched in both everyday life, and the highest levels of government than it is in the USA.  Go ahead, argue against me, cite a bunch of sources, or better yet, film something there that proves me wrong.   Christopher Hitchens once (actually a few times) articulated the fact I wish to cite better than I ever could, and to paraphrase, he said, that for a country to truly be free and successful, there needs to be an absolute equality between men and women at every level.   I know many women from the PRC, and none of them think they are being treated equally, though in public they would never admit such a thing. Why?  Because they are absolutely terrified of going to jail... seriously!  The PRC banned the movie because of a number of things, but you can be sure that the empowerment of women was one of those reasons.


Fuck Japan:
If the movie was made by Warner Brothers or Paramount, then it might have made it through after kowtowing enough (FYI the word kowtow is one of the few English words of Chinese origin). But the studio behind this one was SONY.  It's Japanese.  You know who really don't like the Japanese?  Yeah... the Communist Party of China.  Make no mistake, they are totally still in charge over there and what they say goes.  You know what they all agree on?  It is called "Fuck Japan" all the time.  So if they can dodge a direct accusation of unfair trade but still screw over a Japanese company, yeah, they'll probably do it. So it is reasonable to assume that no matter how many times SONY re-submitted the movie, it was still gonna get rejected.


Notice I'm not mentioning the cast:
I haven't seen the movie so I don't really know if they were good, they phoned it in, or if their talents were wasted on dumb gimmick type stuff.


This is good for women in media:
There are people out there who are busy yelling MISOGYNY at literally anyone who thought that this movie might actually suck.  They assert that any sort of criticism of this film just has to be from misogyny and can't be from anything else and you'll never change their mind.  Those people exist. This tactic has been also been done by various Dwarkin supporters regarding literally anything that had a human male involved (what? you thought screaming "sexism" loud and often enough to shut everything down was new?  That's been happening since the 70's...
But the thing is, the people doing that didn't realize that a huge percent of the American movie-going public are ....wait for it... women oh who would have thought!  And surprise surprise, some women actually like pop culture and know what they're talking about when it comes to a shit movie. These XX chromosome-having people, were able to give their fair and honest opinions of this turd of a movie, free from the reflexive attacks which relied solely on  calling the critic misogynist no matter what.   Seriously, you could write about the craft services going over-budget on an accounting forum and someone will call it sexist (I don't know who, but someone will).  Since you can't do that to someone who is the owner of their very own vagina, these knee-jerkers had nothing, and so reviews like these  are the best and most honest ways to find out information about this movie and decide for yourself if you feel like paying money to go see it.  They're by women you might never have heard of otherwise.











These channels exist, and these people exist.  Now you know.  There are people just now discovering these channels because they want an unbiased review of Ghostbusters 2016.  They are hosted by women and written by women, and they are getting more views than average because the rage machine can't stop them from saying what they think.  They are rising to the forefront and getting a huge amount of attention, because they are unassailable in this case.  They are being seen by thousands of people because they are the only source of unbiased commentary about a movie that everyone know sucks, but which everyone is afraid to say so.

Criticize Ghostbusters 2016 in public and you are going to be the target of a serious political movement.  Which country are we in again?


Oh...

Well the rule is give the "People" what they want.

That's show business.  There's no business like it, no business I know.


Now if you'll excuse me I am gonna take that $20 I saved from not going to the movies and go buy a bottle of Tequila and watch Netflix.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

If You Cut Too Many Corners, You Can’t Roll The Dice: How penny pinching can hurt Japan’s entertainment media industry.



It’s impossible to have been born in the 80’s or later and not worked somewhere that ended up engaging in the most ridiculous and pointless corner-cutting, that it ended up costing the organization more than it would ever save. Like the small business who refuses the odd extra plastic bag to a customer because a boss is thinking “hey those cost me money” not realizing that said customer has now gone from ‘weekly visitor’ to ‘never coming back again and in fact is now going to shop at your competitor’ because of the experience. Yeah, you lost out on 52 regular sales a year, but good for you for saving that hundredth of a penny on that plastic bag ...that you already bought so it’s not like you’re actually saving anything. When companies make workers share work stations so 2 people get paid for half the amount of work that 1 person can do in a day, it seems top brass always think it’s a good idea.

http://www.treehugger.com/energy-efficiency/japanese-companies-saving-money-and-energy-crowding-elevators-turning-out-lights.html
This joke stopped being funny in 1991.

That is why this news story is disturbing. Make no mistake, this kind of thing is rare and extreme, so it’s the sort of thing that makes the news for being exactly that. News from Japan is often misunderstood as some sort of look into regular daily life when in fact the opposite is true. Things make the news precisely becausethey are weird and don’t happen very often. Much like that old “Japanese postman reports to a school girl’s principal regarding the so called delinquent behavior of putting a stamp on a letter upside down” this story is an extreme example of something. However much like that old “Japanese postman reports to a school girl’s principal regarding the so called delinquent behavior of putting a stamp on a letter upside down” story, it highlights an underlying truth (in the stamp case, Japan’s high sensitivity to non-conformity).

So in a game of follow the leader, studios, publishers, and other content providers, are sure to start looking into ridiculous methods of cutting corners. While one can understand limiting power consumption is a priority in Japan, it becomes an annoying point when you realize that despite sitting on a bunch of active volcanoes, Japanese ventures into geo-thermal energy production are nowhere near what they could and/or should be. Also, with Japan highly over-centralized in the Kanto area, the grid itself is a lopsided monster akin to trying to support a collapsing building from the outside rather than fix the problem from within.

But who cares though right? That’s just Toyota, and other companies that follow suit won’t be that intense about it right? Yes, but they don’t have to be that intense for it to still be a problem. The type of vulnerabilities even toned-down measures can create, along with putting stress on workers on almost every level, means that not only is there a potential for s higher errors, but for the impact of those errors to be magnified. Re-rendering something or fixing a layout problem isn’t a fatal hiccup if you have the resources to do it, but when you’ve set yourself up for a zero error-margin, while at the same time putting your people under unnecessary stress, then something like that can actually cause a missed deadline or worse. Missing an issue, or even worse an air date, can actually get a series canceled. It’s dangerous and in a business environment which is already austere, really the last kind of risks you want to be taking.

Walking that tightrope without a net will save you a tidy sum in safety net related costs, and will look great on paper… until the paper has an obituary written on it. This is not the way to do things. Japanese politics and modern culture are to blame for this kind of problem. Internal brain-drain has brought everyone to Tokyo, and the idea of the city’s prestige is so great that even going over to Yokohama is thought of as a step down on an inescapable order of scale (unless you’re in the international shipping business, then you’re fine). Cities and towns that could be great centers for publishing, where living expense could be low, office space basically free at this point, and digital everything means that you could make the stuff in Zanzibar and still have it on shelves at Family Mart on the street date. In order to save itself across the board, and this includes all entertainment media, Japan has to fall out of love with Tokyo. Then stop this corner-cutting nonsense. It will make a lot of sense in two years, at least to the people who are in those 80-something degree, one elevator buildings.



Monday, August 22, 2016

Wizard World is Terrible: Convention comes under the slobbering rage of SJWs

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I never thought I'd really be writing stuff here again. I have been out of the industry too long, I've lost my will to live, and aside from the occasional episode of Sword Art Online or Girls und Panzer, I'm not watching much of anything any more.  My own take on things really doesn't mean much and no one is reading this anyway.  But if I don't actually say something about recent events regarding Wizard World Chicago I am just gonna end up murdering the next person who has their car alarm go off in the middle of the night down the block. (Link is to The Chicago Tribune).

The basics:
SJW Throws hissy-fit until a vendor selling replica and fantasy guns is kicked out of Wizard World Chicago. 


See... Social Justice Warrior.


Ug.  Remember in the 1980's there was always that one kid's mom who didn't want her precious snowflake to play with any sort of "gun" or "gun looking object" because it was supposed to have some sort of mental effect, so the end result was that kid just getting left out of any games you had where you pretended to be The A-team?  Remember how dumb that was in retrospect?  Well some sheltered hipster apparently thinks that "guns are bad" and you shouldn't be able to buy a replica one in order to complete your badass Blade Runner cosplay.

One place that politicial shenanigans don't belong is the fandom.  Now before you start a slobbering comment along the lines of "OMG how can you even SAY that!  Don't you know that Starship Troopers is an allegorical satire of blarg blarg wharrgarble!"  Yeah, but that's an artistic work... a singular piece for consumption by those who wish to do so.  I'm talking about the fandom, and the fandom is always two things.  1) Fun to hang around in.  2) A mutherfucking business.  You know what's bad for business?  Yeah, exactly... Letting galvanized ideology that leaves no space for the realities of existing as a business, is a recipe for disaster and sends the message that manufactured out of touch safe-space SJW faux outrage garbage is something that is much more important than your ability to engage in any part of the fandom you choose to, which has always included replica weapons from Han Solo's Greedo-blaster, to whatever the hell this is used for:

There was no waiting period.


To use strong-arm tactics to force a business to withhold access to events from vendors that do things you don't like is something you do when the vendor is NAMBLA or the people who invented the Rage Virus, not to a company that's been filling a demand that is an integral part of cosplay fandom, replica guns.  This is something that shouldn't need reiterating in as many forms as possible, but once you see what the source of this mess is, it will unfortunately become obvious why repeating this ad nauseam probably still will fail to get the point across.


Page 7 in the 2016 rent-a-hipster catalogue.

This is Matt Santori-Griffith, editor at Comicosity and self-described SJW in his very own words..  He is the one leading the charge to have vendor DS Arms removed from Wizard World Chicago.  This is also the photo that appears when you look up the definition of Gentrification and its causes.  He probably rails about how bad gentrification is with absolutely zero self-awareness.  It requires a lot of privilege to be able to look like that and not have to worry about finding employment.   Actually he probably rails about how bad privilege is also, with absolutely zero self-awareness as well, now that I think about it.  So this bearded penis walks around thinking "guns are bad" for what is probably a mix of reasons that range from legitimate to ridiculous.  He's spent so much time in his little bubble though, that if anything reminds him that guns exist (and therefore reminds him that guns are bad), it must be eliminated from the public sphere and probably stamped out of existence entirely.  Doesn't matter what you think, you gave him a feels-bruise and now that which was used as the catalytic instrument of his self-inflicted perturbation, must be eliminated forever and all time.

Much like any SJW he's not interested in actual discourse, but rather simply shutting down any platform they deem unacceptable, the concept of allowing people to be free to choose to patronize or not patronize the business they do not  like, is an absurd concept.  This unabashed inanity is not even the most grievous of offenses. What is genuinely appalling in this matter is a stated interest in a willingness to fundamentally damage the event and fandom itself, should it not engage in total compliance with their stated necessary behaviors they demand.  The SJW are interested in the total destruction of anything, be it an activity, the written word, or various shades of the color blue, which cause within them an intellectual counter-resonance of their own perceived reality which is in fact not but a matrix of mental holograms lacking any tangible substance. Any means they have at their disposal, or are able to hijack, will be employed in an effort to completely extinguish counter-revolutionary thought, with no regard to any collateral damage it may cause.  For if the ends do not justify the means what does?  Yet the notion that "the means" themselves could be unnecessary is treated as blasphemous.

The fact that DS Arms is also a licensed retailer of functional firearms isn't relevant here, because they were not going to be selling any real guns there.  Real functional guns aren't involved in any of this, so it's not a 2nd Amendment issue.  Actually, there's no Constitutional protection for replica guns at all, they're just not illegal.  If you are going to make some sort of foolish argument that since they make and sell actual guns it doesn't matter if there were no real guns for sale there, then I hope you never have had to get on a Boeing aircraft or use a Halliburton ATM because you just supported their weaponized products by proxy and blah blah blah.  See how dumb that sounds now?  But SJWs aren't interested in people having freedom to show their approval or disapproval of a business by voting with their dollars, they want absolute enforcement of their agenda.   Whether it is being an exclusive arbiter of who is allowed to wear their hair in dreadlocks, or acting as the absolute authority to decide where the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution begins and ends on a college campus, SJWs don't back off when there is blood in the water, they ramp it up as hard as they can.



It's the camera that's racist, not me!
Yes, she really did defend her actions by saying that.


We can unfortunately expect to see efforts to go even further now that these people know they can force event organizers to do what they specifically want if they jump up and down and scream loud enough like a toddler in the cereal isle.  Will convention floors will become covered in the open sores of SJW outrage as they demand that all cosplay be subject to a "cultural appropriation" test?  Well college campuses already have, so it's not that much of a stretch.  Forget singing any karaoke if it contains any words on the "trigger list" because those aren't allowed now.  It's already going on at Princeton I mean, non-gender-specific-royal-person's-ton University.  College students are a big part of convention attendance, and people willing to institute (or even put up with) such ridiculousness on a campus, they are going to want to take those various flavors of stupid to other areas as well.  Think this is too over the top to really happen?


This is NOT a joke, they are actually saying this for real.


The  SJW types are more than happy to destroy the very thing they are trying to "protect" if it means stamping out any contrary position to their agenda.  Fandom is not safe from this kind of thing.  Don't think so?  Then there's someone I want you to know about:


Yep... worse than Pol Pot apparently.


This is a high school girl, known on the internet for drawing fan-art  under the name of Zamii070.  If you already know about this, then you know what happened, but for those of you who may have missed it, here is some information relevant to the points we're talking about.  Zamii, as all fan artists are like to do, had a favorite group of characters she like to draw, that being characters from Stephen Universe.  She looks like crap in that photo because it was taken in the hospital, after a suicide attempt brought on by a relentless barrage of attacks by Tumblr's slobbering SJW hoard.  Why did they push a high school girl to the edge of suicide?  Because they think she engaged in "cultural appropriation" by drawing a character in a generic Native American type of outfit.  If you asked one of these SJWs if it were Anasazi or Lenape culture it was appropriating, do you think they would even know?  Of course not, all First-Nation culture is totally the same right?  Ug.  Oh and she also drew a character being "too thin"  ...yeah, apparently that's worthy of spectacular amounts of online harassment.

Now here's what should scare you.  When the actual artists of Stephen Universe said "hey how about we try just being nice to people and let them draw what they want" the SJWs turned on them as well, bemoaning and lamenting how the actual creative staff of a show they professed to love so much, could "betray" them like that.  Attacking them for being against their set of absolute human values.  Incongruity of thought is not met as a learning experience by these people, it is met as a physical attack.  It is not the only time that the SJW infested toxic fandom of Stephen Universe decided to shit where it eats.  This is what happens when you put social politics in-front of a creative work about sentient rocks that can smash themselves together and make weird creatures with 4 arms (and maybe 2 butts... we can only hope).

But you may be saying "oh well that's just Tumblr and Stephen Universe fans have always been terrible."  Yes, they're terrible, and full of energy, and lacking direction.  They're lacking so much direction that whenever a lightning rod is exposed for them to target their SJW rage at, they don't care if the rod is destroyed in the process.  If human dingle-berry Matt Santori-Griffith is any indication, the SJW community has finished with the dead rotting corpse of Tumblr and is now willing to attack anything they can with a absolute fanatical devotion to an engineered social template so strong and destructive, that Robespierre himself would say "woah, that's too intense." 

Make no mistake, this awfulness is coming to a convention near you.  People like Matt Santori-Griffith call on directionless SJW rage and aim it wherever they damn well please, threatening the specter of not only event boycotts, but the potential for real physical unrest at these these events.  The convention is for different segments of the community to socialize in and share ideas that they can use to make nicer and innovative creative works, it is not a place where a deranged few enforce a lockstep of intellectual intolerance regarding anything they don't like.  If you put a vegan in charge of a bacon festival, it's going to be terrible for everyone.  If you put an SJW in charge of an event which showcases and celebrates creative artistic works, you get thought police.

I haven't written much in a few years.  So go back and check out some of the older stuff I've covered.  Read the actual date that I wrote it and then ask yourself if I'm usually no good at seeing which way the wind is blowing onto the writing on the wall under the aligning stars.


Enjoy it while it lasts. 


EDIT:  You know the term "Social Justice Warrior" has been around since 2006 to mean the proverbial militant vegan at a BBQ right?   Just because Fox News found out about it 5 minutes ago and started using for literally everyone who isn't a Trump supporter doesn't change its original meaning.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Video Killed the Video Star: Anime Music Videos Leave Gamification Vaccume

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The Anime Music Video (AMV), was once a potent and significant component of American otaku community development and enabler of social mobility within the various strata of fandom. It has since devolved into the Toxoplasma Gondii of Anime fandom everywhere, spreading to everything, and accomplishing nothing.

Kill all the hyoomans!

Technological realities once kept the supply of AMVs down to a low stream of relatively few per year for two reasons. First, the editing skill, available anime video library, and hardware needed to actually complete an AMV used to be quite significant and unattainable for many otaku. Such limitations included age, financial reach, and most importantly, talent. This resulted in the AMV being a time consuming effort, undertaken by the few individuals who were confident enough in their abilities and resources to produce a proper AMV. Second, once made, AMV distribution was extraordinarily limited to basically the convention circuit, and a few clubs that managed to get a copy of AMV competition reels or talk Duane Johnson into making a copy of his collection on VHS. They were rare and they were unique, making the level of "otaku bragging points" they carried pretty high on the totem pole.

The AMV is still a part of otaku culture, but this art form has gone from something of high-value, to the lowest possible level of filler activity on par with fanfic writing. Sure you might find one out there that only slightly sucks ...maybe (talkin about fanfics here), but there are millions of poorly written fanfic linguistic vomitbags being churned out by high school freshmen who've got a boner for Gurren Lagann. Neotakus who are just starting to attend conventions since the day after youtube was invented will never experience the dynamic that the AMV formerly played in the social hierarchy of otaku culture.

Lets list the factors which caused this transition. While it's tempting to just write "The Internet" for every single reason behind the downfall of the AMV as a tool of gamification, we're going to try to be a bit more specific.

The 5 Reasons AMVs are Dead*:

#5) Linkin Park: There is no single demarcation line where AMVs definitively became the bad cholesterol of anime fandom, but that year where literally every other submission in the Otakon AMV contest was Linkin Park set to "anyfuckinganimeever" comes painfully close. The viewing was painful, the premises were crap, and it got so bad so fast, that within 2 years the Linkin Park AMV had degenerated into a fucking parody of itself.

What no one realized at the time, was that the rage virus was out of the monkey, and AMVs now became the battleground of emo Weaboo who brought the product of their own "deep" introversion to the anime fandom scene despite the fact that no one asked them to. Look, every generation goes through its "they just don't get me" phase, but what's unforgivable about the post-internet emOtaku crowd is that they shoved that into the AMV contest to the point where we actually hurt our asses waiting for all that shit to be over so we could watch the 5 funny ones at the end of the contest screening.

There's a part of one of the AMV Hell collections (I think) that is 10 Linkin Park songs set to Evangelion over about 30 seconds, but I can't find it. Just use your imagination.

Proper criticism at the time (2003-04): I know you feel a certain way you little emo bastard, but why can't you just read manga while blasting the music they play at Hot Topic? Don't shit into the pool of AMVs out there. You're seriously ruining this for everyone, junior.

#4) Self Esteem: The Mr. Rogers effect of injecting "you're super special and awesome" levels of self esteem by helicopter parents into their precious snowflakes, has had some devistating effects. In terms of AMVs it has allowed some of the crappiest shit to exist by rendering their makers immune to self-criticism and the ability to feel shame and disgust when they step up to the public stage with a work that is painfully sub-par. Perfectionism has taken a back seat to a self centered mentality of throwing out absolute garbage just to prove to others how big a fan of Ouran High School Host Club you are. This is in and of itself a gamification behavior, but has a muted effect due to other factors coming up on this list.

The day youtube dropped 5 star rating for thumbs up or down style was the day we lost our last chance, and past the event-horizon of fail.

AMVs stopped being special when some shithead decided that leaving the subtitles in the final edit was OK. If the subtitles are anywhere in the AMV, you suck - redo it! If there's a DIVX or TV station bug in the corner that comes and goes, you suck - redo it! If you start the video by matching up things litteraly with the song and then stop doing that half way through, you suck - redo it! Failure needs to be accessible early and often, for it leads to self-correction, discipline, and a productive sense of determination. Sadly this isn't happening in America because since 1975, the youth of America have always been told the lie that 100% of what they do/say/think has some sort of value in objective reality. Spoiler alert: That's bullshit.

There's a reason that amateurs aren't allowed to drive F1 cars, there's a reason that NASA rejects 99% of their applicants, and there's a reason why your AMV sucks and shouldn't see the light of day (but apparently you haven't heard it yet).

This should not exist. It should have been taken down in shame, and the person who made it should have bettered themselves with practice until they could produce something that could stand on par with what an AMV should be. Yet the comments are full of "omg! you put a character I like in there so therefore this is totally awesome! squeeee!!!!!" This is why we can't have nice things.

Proper criticism at the time (2008-Yesterday): You suck, and here a list of things you did wrong as certified by experts in video editing, rolled up inside a huge bag of shame! Yes, I know you got a whole bunch of thumbs up on youtube, but those are from 12 year olds who just happen to like Deathnote & Nickelback.

#3) "Fuck you, Japan!": No matter what happens, Japanese studios and publishers always seem to retain a fundamental lack of market understanding no matter how many times it's explained to them that things like AMVs are not piracy and that shutting them down will do nothing to protect their sales, and only generate a wedge effect, further de-humanizing themselves in the faces of American fans making them look like "faceless corporations" making lots of money and doing what they will in the face of customer input (like Apple).

In no way can AMVs really have any tangible negative effect on anime titles and brands. They are helpful indicators of brand strength, and help grow the market for a title as well as energize current customers. They don't displace sales, they don't replace the original program, no one is going to not buy K-ON because there's a 3 minute music video with a little sexual innuendo on youtube out there instead.


So what's the problem? Well, if you watched that AMV, you might notice that there were 35 different anime titles in there. How much you wanna bet that they are all from legit DVD purchases or downloads and not a single one was pirated at all? Yeah...

Studios seeing an AMV don't see a marketing tool for high-intensity and high-context customer engagement with gamification dynamics... they see a fucking bootleg of their title that someone illegally downloaded and just happened to use an an AMV! Horrible over-reaching analogy: If your child died in an accident and I downloaded their genetic code and cloned my own version using a rented uterus, it wouldn't really matter to you if you never found out. But if I kept making videos of my clone of your dead kid and shoving them in your face, you're not gonna approach things very rationally. Same thing is happening here to a lesser extreme; You're just shoving the fact that you stole their license right into the face of the writers, animators, artists, sound engeneers, directors, and office workers who make anime for a living. They're not going to see past that, and therefore continue to be hostile to AMVs.

Proper criticism at the time (1999): Gentlemen, thank you for joining me at the first international Japanese animation global marketing conference. I'm glad to see every anime studio and distribution label represented here. Now, let me tell you about multi-platform viral marketing strategies...

#2) Digital Everything: AMVs were once like hot-rod cars. People worked hard on them, stuck in very unique aspects that no one else would have access to, and then the would take them someplace where they could show them off to other people who would be impressed with their work. Otaku points would abound if you could find footage of an anime that almost no one had ever seen before, or a JPop song that was currently burning up the charts. Using multiple titles in a rapid fire mode was a pretty awesome thing to do, because it meant that this person has lots of anime and knows where to find these scenes. Almost nothing screamed "I'm more Otaku than you" louder and to more people than a top-tier AMV. The best example of this, forever and all time, has got to be Duane Johnson's "Dare to be Stupid" AMV, which at this point is pushing 15 years. Think about that.


This had incredible value, because lots of this footage wasn't easy to find at the time. It didn't even matter if you had/have no idea what those titles are, the song ties everything together in a literal sense so you don't miss out on the enjoyment factor. The elusiveness of all of the different anime titles in there, combined with the quality of the editing meant that this was worth some crazy otaku points back when there was no way your stupid ass was ever going to get a copy of this AMV for yourself.

No longer is that the case. While the digital revolution did basically create the separate but related creative forms of the"Overdub" and the "Mashup," which have as much if not more entertainment value, the damage done to AMVs was severe and irreparable. AMVs lost their ability to add value to social fandom the day a few mouse clicks could conjure up any footage of any anime almost instantly. To top it all off, it would already be encoded in a digital video form, ready to go for whatever low-end editing software you had. The result?



Somehow underwhelming.





Or just total shit.

Proper criticism at the time (2001): "Can" "Should" ...Any questions?

#1) The Fucking Internet: In this context I simply mean that it's now far too easy to just sit down wherever you are whip out a smartphone and have access to enough AMVs to litteraly occupy every second of every day for-fraking-ever... instantly. Watching AMVs was once something only available to convention attendees, and even then only for 90 minutes or so. They were so valuable that in the 1990's I would enter the Otakon AMV contest just to get copies of the other entries (they were always good though, my last was in 2002). We'd show them on the Anime Crash CCTVs every now and then to a packed house, and that was because these things were rare pieces of Otaku fandom. You'd never fill an anime store (let alone convention) these days by announcing you were going to show a few AMVs, because you could watch the same thing at home in your undies while doing 3 other things online at the same time.

Over-abundance via saturated distribution has caused just about every problem there is with the decline of the AMV. Some things should not be available to 11 year olds, and the internet enables them into producing total crap. Even enabling an entire generation of retards who can't tell which songs aren't actually by Weird Al Yancovic. Nice AMV but it's not Weird Al. Not that one either. No, not that other one, I don't care if it "sounds" like him. Really? Weird Al's own website says that's not his! And so on and so forth. The unreliability of the internet mixed with the notion that your opinions somehow have value (from #4) have combined to create a fan that literally thinks that their retarded tumor-baby of an AMV they've created from an anime they like and Windows Movie Maker is something other than a sickening creation deserving of only contempt. Contempt that you've wasted everyone's time on this crap.

The result of commoditized AMVs made possible only via the internet (nothing else could do it) has had two major effects:
A) AMVs are now not only abundant but tremendously accessible. Searching AMV libraries by theme, character, song, series, artist, etc, has become so easy, that the need to seek them out at conventions is no longer prevelant.
B) Development A has caused the value of the AMV as it pertains to the social structure of the American Otaku market market to deflate, leaving a vaccume in sources for "Otaku-points."

Proper criticism at the time (1998-99): WE'RE DOOOOOMED!


AMVs and Gamification.

I truly believe that the explosion in cosplay that has come to dominate Otaku convention culture over the past 5-10 years, was (in part) a result of the "points" vacuum created by the hyper-commoditization of the AMV. Otaku Wee'Bos could no longer tangibly rise further in the fandom hierarchy via the creation or possession of AMVs, because they were everywhere and anyone could make one at that point. This left the option of creating a costume better than those of the other schlubs as one of the few viable means to earn slight elevations in the pecking order.

Anime fans often socially interact in ways in which establish a hierarchy where rank is based on possession of items, fandom knowledge, important contacts, or other things with limited access. That means everyone is trying to out-fan each other a lot of the time (not always). I assign the term "Gamification" to this dynamic, but that's not really accurate, as "Gamification" is a more structured group activity where the channels of upward mobility are top-down designed and implemented by a central authority which engages in pull-marketing (think FourSquare). In the otaku social space, these channels of upward mobility and rules of engagement have developed organically, and therefore are also subject to intense fluctuations, so when you win you really win, but you also run the risk of a ton of worthless currency, such as AMVs.

As noted, AMVs formerly held a position of high value currency but are now pretty much worthless in that grand scheme of things:



For clarification: Rare means that the overall supply is a low ratio of AMVs to Otaku, where as and Limited Access means that there are only a few channels which can deliver AMVs to Otaku, regardless of how many AMVs there are. The rest other categories should be obvious. Such qualities made the possession and creation of AMVs a source of otaku fan authority, and the more you had, the more points you earned. Bring an AMV reel to an anime club meeting and you were god (or close).

But, the need to engage in the social activity and the gamification that such activity still entails, means that something must step up to fill that need. There have always been extreme sources of otaku legitimization; Industry Job, Published Artist, Voice Actor, Big Retailer, etc, but these opportunities are simply too few to contribute to the larger mass of regular otaku consumers (many of which are just too young for any of that) and fill the gap that AMVs have left with their devaluation. Enter cosplay:

AMV scores a little differently against Cosplay here. Rather than having all X marks, because this table of comparison is for a convention setting, where an obscure title is still worth something and where there's always an air of competition in almost everything.

In this case, Limited access means that (unless you're Danny Choo) you don't cosplay to work on the train every day, and in order for your cosplay to satisfy your own motivational needs (and thereby create intangible value), the cosplayer requires an audience. There are two kinds of audiences, passive and the engaged. An example of a Passive audience would be passers by at the Yoyogi Park entrance off of Harajuku, who were not planning on seeing any cosplayers but, there they are. Reactions can range from mild interest to recalcitrant hostility if their path to the train is blocked... or some d-bag is dressed up like a Nazi. Then there are the engaged audiences such as those at anime conventions, who have planned to see cosplay activities and competitions. Both of these audience types create value for the cosplayer, but the engaged types are more likely to provide a kind of legitimization of hierarchy when it comes to where the cosplayer fits into the rest of the otaku universe by being better or worse than average.

To that effect, I would very much like to see something like a major and indisputable source of cosplay criticism. Not constructive criticism, mean criticism. A fountain of shameful, hateful, negative sentiment, washing away the unwarranted self-confidence that enables cos-tards with terrible costumes the ability to leave the house. The collateral damage they cause with poorly made hallway-clogging inspirations for eye-bleach must be called out as harmful by the otaku public, forcing these morons to better their attempts at cosplay before stepping out in public to inflict their lack of talent on the rest of us. This will help cosplay retain a position of being something that gives those otaku who excel at it, a higher standing in the fandom, and remain a viable gamification activity. You ever see a "bad" Japanese cosplay? No. Know why? Because the Japanese still have shame, and if they suck, they don't want other people to see that. While Cosplay Hell does exist, it really needs to create a standardized rubric of cosplay fail, then feed it into the internet hate machine engines and take a more active role in discouraging every lumpy pumpkin who likes Read or Die from going to a con in some god-awful rendition of whatever character and ruin cosplay for everyone... making it worthless and spreading it everywhere... ya know, like what happened to AMVs.

Self esteem. It's a bad thing.


Final note: Discourse continues in the comments, opposing and supporting views are welcome. Comments are moderated because I get lots of spam (check out this entry to see what happens when comment mod is off). That's the only reason for moderation, real comments will be approved as quickly as possible.


* (added July 18); Well now that the internet and everyone has seen this and taken it the wrong way, I obviously have some explaining to do. I go into this down in the comments, but just in case you weren't in the mood to slog though another wall of words, "Dead" in this case was the wrong term (high-context, which only makes sense to me, because I don't get other people to read these things before they go up). I only mean "Dead" in terms of AMVs as a high-return source of competitive gamification "points" in the otaku socual fanscape. So it's only in terms of the ability to produce a fandom silo-breaking gamification value that AMVs have fallen tremendously. The enjoyment value isn't the same as gamification value, since while gamification value exists and has a specific dynamic, it (usually) does not produce as much motivation to so something as the enjoyment value which is also very real, but just not the same thing. AMVs still produce a significant quantity of enjoyment value for participants and viewers, but inadequately articulated the way that is separate from the organic competitive gamification behavior that exists in anime fandom (or almost any fandom for that matter). Therefore "dead" is more like "dry well" or "vestigial feature" or "Zimbabwe dollar" but only specifically as the gamification mechanisms are concerned, AMVs are still fun to watch and do provide a sense of satisfaction when finished.

To go even further, "Gamification" isn't even the 100% correct term here, but that's addressed in Section 2 "AMVs and Gamification" paragraph 2.

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