Rome wasn’t built in one day, and neither was this blog. We’ve passed several noteworthy milestones over the past couple of months, so it’s a nice opportunity to take a moment and reflect on the journey this blog and I have gone on over the years, as I highlight them.
First, 1 million page-views was reached late at night on April 29th! It’s taken us a long time to get here, and I thank all of you who’ve read the posts, and took the time to interact with me, and other readers on the blog. I know I haven’t always been the best about responding to comments timely, and have gone on periods of inactivity at times, but thank you for all visitors, past and current. Trolls aside. Nobody likes trolls. Sorry.
An accurate depiction of the blog’s owner by Sephyxer.
Speaking of how long it’s taken to get here, the first post on this blog was made on March 3rd, 2009. That’s just over 7 years ago! It was an early screening review of the Watchmen film. It wasn’t a very good film, let me tell you that. Later that month, I covered the beautifully written Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susannah Clarke, which isn’t perfect, but is quite good. As you can see, the blog’s start in particular was much more wide-ranged than otaku interests alone, and later down the road I even covered a geeky bootleg shirt!
(Guy’s preamble: This was originally posted on my ask.fm, where a Fate/Stay Night fan asked what sort of behaviour I’m anticipating from F/SN fans that’d impact the fun out of non-fans’ viewing. I edited some of the specific references out or added others. And sad to say, all these things I predicted did indeed come to pass, and with double the vigor once full series/cour reviews had come out by people who were not True Fans. Of course, this is relevant in any season where a popular franchise is adapted, which is basically every season. I’d like to reiterate that this behaviour is understandable, and even I sometimes engage in it, but as always, we can strive to do better, especially if in our zeal to convince people to love our favourite shows as much as we do, we rob them of the opportunity to engage in it as we had.)
A lot of it is down to the same sort of behaviour that is prevalent when any adaptation comes out, or when people read/view one part of an interconnected universe, or even when people read the first part of a series you’ve read the entirety of. It just happens that the more “hoops” you have to jump through in a specific work (in terms of word-count, how many interconnected series there are, etc.), or rather, how artificially high the barrier of entry to “true fandom” is, the more this behaviour is prevalent.
In a nutshell.
So, what to do or not do, right?
Shitposting, it’s hard to define, and we shrug it off by “You’ll know it when you see it,” a form of communication that is becoming inescapable around message boards, Twitter, and chat-rooms. It’s basically memes responding to memes, which have been fermented in the noxious gases of Twitch chat. But are they a form of communication? Are they a form of humor? What are they there for, and how are they misused? I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of shitposting and memes, and never have been, so I’ve spent quite some time from my perch, looking at everyone running amuck in the communities I frequent, trying to understand why people do it, and what purpose it serves.
Well, as Hajime of Gatchaman Crowds had so aptly put it, people won’t stop doing what they’re doing if they’re having fun, but there must be some specific need this addresses, and that’s what I’m going to think over, and also how it’s being co-opted by outside forces.
(Note, the post’s previous title was “Shitposting Lonely Geeks, and The Corporations That Take Advantage of Them”, but corporations aren’t the focus of this piece, but how shitposting is closely-related to loneliness and in-jokes. So it was changed to reflect that better.)
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was released last week. As someone interested in the game and franchise, I did what many others had done, and decided to read some reviews before the game was actually released. I set off to Metacritic’s page for the game, and as I am wont to do, I opened a handful of posts, running the gamut from high scores to lower scores. Well, I found this review by Chapel Collins on Gaming Nexus, a site I haven’t heard of before, and as I read the piece, I knew what the comments would be like. There were only two at the time (there are 151 right now), and they did not disappoint. A classic circling of the wagons by an indignant cult (or fandom), an all-out attack on the outsider.
The best defense of the fandom – attack the critic.
(While this post is somewhat of a rant on fandoms and the search for “objectivity”, it’s also an editorial on the nature of reviews.)
Before we proceed further, a couple of words on what I look for in a review, specifically of something such as a video game, headphones, or a computer mouse, which is often not what I wish out of a “review” of a narrative, though video games can also incorporate that “other” part (see Austin Walker’s post on Darkest Dungeon as an example). What I look for in a review of this sort is enough information on the product to tell me what it’s like – what qualities it has, what it focuses on, what it actually plays like.
It’d be easy to say that this is the top moment of the year because this was a relatively weak year for anime, or that I haven’t watched much anime over the past three months. It could also be said that I just like myself a bit too much, but since these moments are all about our personal moments, and that this particular “moment” took up hundreds of hours of my time over half a year, I don’t really see how anything else could’ve taken the #1 spot.
Nothing like some self-deprecating humor to start us off.
I’ve spent many times on various internet communities since roughly 1997. Every community I come into, I become very involved with, and relatively well-known in short order. I’ve started using reddit’s /r/anime’s subreddit more heavily when I revived this blog, back in April 2013, and completely immersed myself in it when Fall 2013’s season began, back in July. And as part of the community, I’d post pointers to people, correct mistakes, call out when people broke the rules, ask for rule clarifications, etc.
As such, it wasn’t all that surprising, as a high profile and very active poster that I’ve been offered a position of moderating the subreddit back in February, which I accepted. Continue reading
This piece was a long-time coming. The nugget of realization came early, but realizing what exactly bothered me took some more time. For those who don’t know, back in 2009-2010 this blog had regular content about anime figurines, including a few figure reviews. The topic of what to provide in my post, and the nature of how I perceive most blogs at the time to handle their take on mass-produced content also carried to why this blog doesn’t really have episodic content, and certainly didn’t in the past.
What figure reviews look like
Look at a fan’s review of a figure, what do you see? You see them taking shots of the box in which the figure arrives, you see them unpacking said box, and then you see numerous shots of the figure that’s being reviewed. You might not get “unboxing the box”, but for most such reviews, that’s what you’re going to get. So, what’s the problem? Well, there isn’t exactly any problem, but head over to YouTube, search for a review of a gaming mouse, keyboard, or even a food processor, and you’ll see more or less the exact same thing.
That’s still not a problem, it just means that all these items are presented the same way, right? Well, here’s where we’re getting to the problem – it’s a culture of mass-producing “reviews” of mass-produced items. And like all mass-produced items, there’s not much to differentiate the items, both the products being reviewed, and as a result, the reviews themselves.
After spending many years on traditional BBCode fora, I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time over the past several years on Reddit, and it differs from those BBCode fora in several ways, and so I thought it might be interest to observe some of them, and think of how they shape the communities and discourse.
Let’s start with the basics – like most such communities, content is provided by users, but aside from starting submissions in the form of an “opening post”, there can also be link submissions, which are “Look at this neat site/article/image” as Digg used to do. The other thing that people notice about reddit is what powers it – an upvote system, essentially users get to vote “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” for anything they see, from submissions to comments, and that controls what others see.