Nangbaby (nangbaby) wrote,

Happy Belated Birthday, Sailor Moon

March 7, 2012 was the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon, the animated series about a crybaby, lazy girl who grows into a superheroine who stands for love, justice, and forgiveness.  Why are so many Sailor Moon fans still so prejudiced, hateful, and vindictive towards other Sailor Moon fans?

All fandoms are rough, to be sure, and Sailor Moon has been notorious for having different factions of fandoms, be it dubbed animated series, original manga, or even the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon live action series.  However, I thought that the faux-taku element of the fandom had diminished and that prominent Sailor Moon fans had grown past the "Sailor Moon is wonderful, so Japan is wonderful" phase of their lives.  I mean, those who originally watched Sailor Moon on TV are now in their 20s and 30s, and you would think it would be a fondly remembered cartoon.

Sadly, this is not the case a contingent of diehard occidental fans.  It turns out they are still taking the show as a primer on how to live in Japan and think that because the show was animated in Japan, that Sailor Moon is the unambiguously best of Japan concentrated in 30 minute episodes.  If one does not like every single element of the show, there is something wrong with one's inferior values.

When Westerners compare and equate themselves to Japanese culturally and claim they understand what it is like to grow up in Tokyo, in their minds, that is not offensive to anyone but bigots.  When they see the relatively homogenous, light-skinned ethnicity as a "superior" Japanese value and saying ethnic diversity is of "lesser mind" and should be treated in "lesser" standing, that is what they call tolerance and respect.  When one mentions that it is cultural misappropriation to claiming to have experienced the same cultural events as someone from another culture and feel exactly what a person from that culture would -- that is what empathy is -- this viewpoint is xenophobic, racist.  If it is wrong to compare oneself to someone in an impoverished culture one does not originate from, it's wrong to compare oneself to one in a rich culture one does not originate from.  All cultures are different.

Of all the things that arose from that Twilight controversy I found myself caught up in a few years back, there was an unintended side effect. I do on very rare occasions read Rob Schmidt's blog.  Aside from our disagreement on certain celebrities, I find that his blog is well-written and contains a thorough examination of portrayals of Natives in popular culture.  He highlights why stereotypes are bad and how the "magical" attributes given to Native characters in media distract from real issues Natives face and actually dehumanizes them.  While there is a vast difference between the multitudes of known tribes and Japanese culture, the same "reverence" is at play with a lot of Sailor Moon fans and anime fans in general.  They treat Japanese characters with a mix of noble savagery and magical realism.  While it might seem like a fan such as that is praising a culture, in reality, it's a denigration, because the targets of this affection are still something other than human and such an attitude reduces people into an ideal.  Adding a layer of "empathy" based on an entire culture is no better than disparaging it outright.

But if believing they feel Japan's pain is what some Sailor Moon fans want to think, I can't stop them.  I just hope to communicate to the ones that aren't so shallow, and I hope they wished Sailor Moon a happy birthday.
Tags: rants, sailor moon

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