_debbiechan_ (_debbiechan_) wrote in bleachness,

Character Bashing & Why Are Fans so Fanatical?

It's been over a year since I was laughed out of soul_society  and right into fandom wank by asking, in all innocence--what's wrong with character bashing? I couldn't understand why people got their panties in a wad over criticism, however mild, of a character's personality or actions, and if someone said "I hate such-and-such" character, it was a call to war.

I furrowed my brow. Was I not getting it because of my harrowing graduate school education that made me wildly (as in "over-much") aware of the author over his creations? l can cry over a manga panel--it couldn't be that I didn't care for the characters.. Maybe but for a quirk of timing, my favorites would be parts of me. As it is, they're my idols and beloved representations of traits I admire. The ones with the most personal flaws are loved too because I'm a sucker for the redempion story. I can recognize myself in my favorite characters (If Ishida and Orihime had a baby, it would be me). But why did I not care about my characters being bashed when so many apparently did. Before I chalked it up to my missing a crucial area of brain function, I decided to observe and take notes.....

See, people could make fun of Uryuu Ishida from here to tomorrow and I'd laugh. A wise friend, though, told me---"It's not how you think and feel but how others think and feel." Learning fandom standards of acceptable fan behaviour comes with time, though. I admit, I've begrudgingly followed this descent into comformity the more internet wanks I've seen, and now, instead of thinking "have at it, folks," I think it's wise for moderators to keep their eyes on psychotic people.

I posted the following recently at Bleach Asylum when people were calling for a thread to be shut down, even before anyone had said anything personal against another poster (see, that's what I consider a no-no, attacking people not cartoons). Haven't heard a peep there yet so I'm wondering what people here can tell me about character bashing. How do you define it and to what lengths do you go to defend yourself from lunatics who will put the voo-doo on you if you criticize (as in analyze, joke about, or even mildly poo-poo) their favorite cartoon people? What is polite? What is not caring if you're banned from a forum? Who are ardent shippers and fans, really?

LOL, not a week goes by that I don't want to hang Kubo upside down and give him a good shake and force him to tell us what's up with the plot--anything, one clue, one character analysis.

somewhat OT but relevant:

As for character-bashing, I used to wonder why the term itself existed. Characters can be analyzed; they can be liked or disliked, hated even, but I never understood bashing until I witnessed first hand some the fan animosity that could go on.

For me, there is a clear distinction between criticizing (or needlessly bashing) a real person and criticizing (or bashing from here to tomorrow) a character. If someone posts "So-and-so is just stupid and her boobs are too big and I hate girls like her. Kubo should kill her," call that post "weak analysis" or call it an all-emotional response (we all have them) or an expression of immaturity. Don't call it bashing. Don't make it illegal.

Fictional people, unlike real people, can never find out what mean things you said about them. They won't send you harrassing e-mails.
Treat characters like characters and have more respect for people, even the ones who say dumb things about stuff you know all about.

But that's just me. I know criticizing peoples' favorite characters can lead to wars, but I must be weird. People call my favorite character "a gay annoying girl in a lame outfit" and I just laugh.

I admit, when I talk about characters these days, I try to speak of them as if they were actors or actresses--vulnerable to intense criticism or praise, but not immune from it like the person next door who you really just shouldn't talk badly about if you're a nice person. And I wouldn't say anything terribly strong against any one character because I fear the wrath of fans. (Luckily, in the Bleach fandom it's easy not to "bash" for me because I like nearly all the characters with the exception of Mayuri, who is well-written, but I just hate, hate, hate him and am just waiting for the day I can jump up and down in glee because either Uryuu or Ryuuken has killed him).

I was around this fandom when Orihime was hated like this--for just being herself. Now that she's experienced more life in the manga, there's more to look at. If a pure hate post pops up, I may or may not get hot under the collar, but I won't try to argue with some people. In the end, one rarely changes another person's mind in forum thread (I've had my mind changed about little things but not basic character personalities or which ships I like). Opinions that over-praise a character I like can bother me too. Of course, my interpretation of everything is the right true way. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't entertain those opinions, would I?

I think that for the most part, this thread has been respectful. The only problem I see with the thread is arguments keep being repeated and the topic is going around in circles.

When I was a mod at another board, I just let threads die on their own. With this fandom and the intense Rukia or Orihime with Ichigo phenomenon, I think two mods should assigned to monitor topics with said characters at all hours of the day!

That was all. I'd been observing lately that a few calm voices in a busy thread can keep the personal attacks down. (Those who don't want to insult another person or cartoon character and get in trouble with a mod will pour on the sarcasm. Nothing rankles the opponent like pure irony when the mods can't say the poster didn't actually believe what he sarcastically wrote).

Just in case you haven't noticed, FANDOM IS INSANE. A friend was telling me the other day that some people don't get my sense of humor and think I'm quite the bitch, even on a normal non-premenstrual day. I think misunderstanding people on the net is only a tiny bit of the warring problem. If I were to put a lot of IchiOris and IchiRukis in a room together and try to interview everyone, I think that eventually something out of Jerry Springer would happen and the chairs would get broken.

In RL, some people are more polite than others, some are respectful and nice but not polite, some are aware of the codes of non-confrontational behaviour but they'll say behind your back (or on I.M. ) what they wouldn't say to your face. Right after I got bombarded with who do you think you are? sorts of responses to my question on
soul_society, I swore I would never use the fightin' words like "hate" and "stupid" just the way my mama taught me (I hadn't yet--but you never know). Then again, I wondered--why not? Sometimes among fans we are among our own. Why I can 't kid with other fans the way I make Jewish jokes among Jewish friends? <---irony, irony, see two sentences as a joke, ha ha. with a mere drop of seriousness.

But even if one doesn't use the fightin words, any little thing can get you in trouble. I'm serious. I recently found out that when I'd written somewhere, "Ishida is not gay and Chad is, even though he's tall," there were some people would took that as a very serious statement in which I had the audacity to decide canon sexual orientation, of Kubo's charcaters .<.< I suppose. In an effort to stop getting hate mail, perhaps I should try not to be funny when writing about cartoon people.

Interestingly, last September, as I do every year, I asked RL and LJ acquaintances to remind me of my trespasses (in Judaism, the word for sin literally translates as "missing the mark"--it's not all awfulness--it's can be neglect or discourtesy or spreading a rumor, you know--the stuff that happens on the internet). I got only one response, from a person I admire in the yaoi community, who said I should consider how much I can hurt people with blithe things I write in my LJ. I asked for an example, and she cited something I'd written about my believing that Kubo Tite intended his male characters not to be gay and how he seemed to be emphasizing that with visual puns, etc, in the face of the huge BL fandom. I didn't say anything anti-yaoi. I'm a yaoi fangurl myself. I think I wondered aloud about how young artists can be so crotchety.

OOOOkkay. I went to Yom Kippur services promising myself that I would watch my mouth (typing fingers) when talking about yaoi, period, because some of these people were way sensitive and I'd hurt them by expressing one of my opinions. That was altogether too much accomodation, don't you think? Over the past year, I've learned that it's better to be honest and mess up with a few people than to be ambiguous while tippy-toeing and to be misunderstood by MORE people.

At some point in my Bleachness last year (I'm wildly prolific--my name stands out because I write so much fic),  I was really freaked to learn that some people hated me because I championed this or that ship. or wrote this or that fic. Seriously, are most people on the internet psychotic? No stranger to harrassment (I've been stalked in RL, had my son get internet harrassed to the point where we had to go to the FBI), I got hate mail and anonymous comments in my journal or about me in the journals of friends--it really got me. Even though I'd read books and talked to the FBI about this sort of thing. I got paranoid. I was naive enough to think that there were maybe a bunch of people who were this sad and out to cook my rabbit in a pot instead of just one or two.

Bu it's always just a few people who ruin the party for everyone else, isn't it? It's hard to recover after a fandom kerfluffle, big or small. There's  that throw-up in the corner that people try to ignore while they go on clinking glasses and exchanging repartee.

I was going over fandom letters and reviews the other day and there were so many from wonderful, reasonable people who wouldn't throw their hot coffee on you if you wrote "Hinamori is pathetic." I remembered public school--I went to one where this charming Southern phenomenon would occur every now and then. "Race riots." There wasn't antagonism between the ethnic groups that I knew. No more that the usual "we're us and you're them" stuff that goes on with all cliques from toddlerhood to the retirement home.
Two mean white guys would always start it. Not being of the credo that a fight starts with the second punch, black kids took the guys to the ground. It was the same thing over and over. And my school got a rep for being "a bad school." Well, it was certainly bad in that the roofs leaked and the teachers showed a lot of videos, but "bad" in the sense of "violent?" No.

I've said it before. Shippers are crazy. And yes, there is a particular kind of enthusiasm expressed by females who cheer for a manga couple to match up the way men cheer their football team to win. But there are only a few (and maybe these people alternate, even fade away only to be replaced by another neighborhood bully) freakazoids who are truly ugly and cruel in a fandom. But you know what? These people matter more to me than Ishida Uryuu. You know why? They're real. The sympathy (when it's not mixed up with contempt) just pours out of me for these losers. Esp the ones who harrassed me this past year.

As to Chapter 282, oh just GET ON WITH IT, Kubo.

 I never saw anything romantic at all in the "their eyes meet!" situation. I saw fear in Orihime's eyes and Ichigo's--well he didn't have eyebrows during that scene so I saw Kubo trying to show us the human behind the mask. The situation told me he was hurt by Orihime's reaction. That's still what I see. Odd that people didn't see romance until the sidetext (and as we know,  sidetext! is usually written by editors) was translated.

Kubo is really playing his audience like a violin. At the expense of the story, I think. As for Orihime, it pains me to see her this way. I've been broken hearted for her since 237 but I've also been appalled by her repeated failure to live up to her own ambitions and be a tougher babe. Maybe she'll get there. If she doesn't, she's going to have to be killed off and I would bury my own heart if that happens (it won't)
It would take a hundred chapters but if Orihime and Ichigo hook up, it will have to be after Orihime loses her fantasy ideal of him. I don't think that's going to happen, but still I can bear an angsty Ishida left alone with no Quincy heir. Only Kubo better fix Rukia up with Renji in that case.

But that's not going to happen either. My opinion. My belief. If it hurts you, please take an aspirin.
Tags: bleach manga, character bashing, fandom insanity
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