- the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something.
We are all familiar with the term “gatekeeping” at this point in the game, especially if you run in many of the nerdy circles of the internet. Because, let’s face it the nerd community isn’t always the wholesome escape we want it to be—especially if you happen to be BIPOC, female/ female presenting, or anyone that isn’t a straight white male. So, being a black female nerd is like a double whammy sometimes, with me having to constantly PROVE that I am a “real” nerd, to folks who feel they are the last remaining accolades of some secret club. Just because I don’t watch or read the hottest “mainstream” nerd media, that somehow invalidates my nerd card and that’s just not fair.
The “Nerd Test” – Are you really a fan?
I don’t hide that I’m a nerd, in fact I go out of my way to add a little drop of nerd magic into everything I do (just look at my desk at work). But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given the “nerd test” by dudes when they find out I like anime and manga. My favorite conversation starters being:
- Oh, you like anime? Have you heard of Naruto?
- Oh so you like anime? My favorite anime are Naruto, DBZ, and One Piece…
- Are you really an anime fan? Or like, have you only watched Sailor Moon?
- I bet you’ve never even heard of [Insert Basic Mainstream Anime Name]…
All of these get a HARD eyeroll from me, one because don’t insult my intelligence like that—shounen is NOT the end all for Japanese media—and TWO who made YOU the authority on anime and manga?! And then, when I clap back with a “less mainstream” series like Mushi-shi or Natsuyuki Rendezvous they act like a deer in headlights. Where is your vast anime knowledge now?
And what’s worse, is that there are some folks who won’t even listen to what you have to say unless you’ve watched the quintessential anime staples, which for some reason always seem to include a heavy smattering of shounen anime. And God forbid I mention a shoujo series—you can actually see the light leave some people’s eyes when you start listing off shoujo series. But, nothing seems to piss off some people more than when I admit that I like boys love media, because I am immediately labeled as one of “those people” and no longer worthy of engaging in the anime discourse. And I hate that! I shouldn’t have to prove that I’m a real fan for people to respect my opinion
Being Labeled a CASUAL Fan
Then, there is this notion that because I don’t eat, sleep, drink, and breathe anime I am a casual—someone who only consumes anime on weekends or when otherwise not engaged with other real world obligations. In some people’s minds there is nothing more dirty than being called a casual anime fan because it means that on some basal level, you aren’t worthy of being considered a “real fan”. As if there is some upper echelon of the Anime Fandom reserved just for those select few who after years of consuming only the purest and most critically acclaimed anime can aspire towards—let me tell you now, that’s BS.
There is no right or wrong way to consume anime, hell I can go months without watching anything only to turn around and binge entire series in the course of one week. Like most things in life, I watch anime when I FEEL like it and not a moment before—so I’m usually several seasons behind the rest of the anime community. But, that shouldn’t have any bearings on my status as an anime fan, nor should the type of anime I watch. There is no hierarchy in anime or at least their shouldn’t be! If you like shoujo anime great! If you like boys love, fantastic! If you only watch the newest series, kudos to you! The rest shouldn’t matter.
There are no REAL fans only ANIME fans
Time and time again I’ve seen people nitpick celebrities and other anime fans for not being “real fans” simply because they don’t fit into their image of what they think a “true anime fan” should be—insert otaku stereotype here. Gone are the days of nerds in basements, lording over their sweet otaku treasures. It’s a new day, anime is more visible and accessible than it has been in years, so that is bound to attract some new blood. So, before you open your mouth to question someone else’s fan status, STOP and instead ask them about what they like… you might learn about something new!
So, now that I’ve said my piece, have any of you had to prove your anime fan status? How do you feel about gatekeeping?
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