Shifting the Goalposts

A few weeks ago, Anime News Network Executive Editor Zac Bertschy was made aware of an article on SLC Anime that, in part, criticized the joke reviews he does for ANN’s Preview Guide each season.

He wasn’t happy.

Though, apart from calling me a bitch and claiming I’m being passive-aggressive, he said something particularly interesting that I’d like to touch on.

The practice of “shifting the goalposts” can be described as arbitrarily changing the parameters of a debate in order to make one side look better or worse than the other. With that in mind, consider the following series of tweets:

There’s somewhat of a disconnect here. I was under the impression that the ANNCast episode I was on was meant to be a discussion about moé. Everything leading up to that episode had me thinking that I was getting ready to do an ANNCast on moé. I did some research and geared up for a discussion about moé. The reason for this is because Zac invited me onto the podcast to have a discussion about moé. This isn’t something I’m making up in my head or some kind of misunderstanding. This is what actually happened.

I realize that a lot of people were expecting that ANNCast episode to be more like Anubis vs. Zac Slugfest 2013: This Time, It’s Personal, but many people, even myself and Zac, agree that it was very civil and reasoned. Now, I could’ve been confrontational. I could’ve been antagonistic. I could’ve been “Taskforce M.O.E. Guy” about it, especially given the history of arguments Zac and I have.

But I wasn’t.

There’s a reason for that. What kind of moé discussion would that episode have been if I had decided to make it about the beef between Zac and me? How selfish would that have looked? The moé discussion is bigger than whatever disagreement Zac and I have about how he does the Preview Guide.

That’s not the only thing that bothers me about his comments, though. The whole thing raises questions:

“Was he expecting a debate about this stuff through that entire recording?”

“Why didn’t he bring it up if it’s such a big issue?”

“Is this seriously a big enough issue to him that he expected this to come up in an unrelated discussion?”

Ultimately, it comes down to shifting the goalposts. We had a moé discussion, because that’s what I signed on for. However, that doesn’t reinforce Zac’s image of me as a “weird little passive bitch” that he’s trying to push to his followers, so he pretends that that episode of the podcast wasn’t, very specifically, about moé, and that it was, instead, about him giving me a chance to air my grievances with him, as though he was doing me a favor by providing me with a venting session. Those of us who live in the real world, however, know that ANNCast episode 152: “Ar-moe-geddon” was an episode about moé, was billed as an episode about moé, and that everything leading up to that episode portrayed it an as episode about moé.

And speaking of passive-aggression, Zac has ways to contact me directly. He and I could have this debate any time he wants. Rather than complaining on Twitter where the vast majority of people who will see it will agree with him, he and I could talk this out away from the peanut gallery.

When an individual starts seeing the need to misrepresent things in order to make his or her point, it’s time to call the legitimacy of that point into question.


Stay frosty.


12 thoughts on “Shifting the Goalposts”

        1. Ok then. Basically Zac, i find your behaviour utterly disgusting.

          Whether it’s hating other anime fans (other than your small circle jerk of “Super Nerds”), telling Japanese companies to go fuck themselves (like saying “fuck you” to Gainax just because they made a show that features school girls with (fake) guns), or your so called “reviews” where you take the minimal effort and put forth your political views under the guise of “clever” humor.

          Let’s not forget your general cynical view on everything and apply that to what you believe the industry to be as well, rather than GASP, actual legitimate enthusiasm.

        2. Clearly he wasn’t prepared for a legitimate response that wasn’t peppered with vulgarity. I guess it’s not as easy to dismiss reasoned criticism as it is the usual array of chain-insults, eh Zac?

          Fact is, you’re bored with the job. You loath anime, and it seeps through in every show. Your prominence in this industry stems from your site and it’s encyclopedia, and certainly not your personality, which has all the charm of a slab of granite. It’s very obvious to any long-time listener that you have lost passion for the industry, and want nothing more than to discuss film and cinema at length. It almost seems as if you blame anime for preventing you from pursuing this, and pass that disdain along to the people who frequent your forums.

          I recall you saying to a fellow once, just before you locked the thread so he couldn’t reply, that you have nothing but disgust for him and his sort. Rest assured, Zac. The feeling is mutual. Tenfold.

  1. Hello, Timeenforceranubis-san, I happened to find this blog after listening to the ANNcast Ar-Moe-geddon, and just wanted to leave one comment. I did enjoy the ANN episode and your website, and I do understand that Zach’s twitter comment is a little offensive and distasteful. And Yes, it’s your freedom to say anything on your blog. BUT if I were you, I would’ve told Zach in person before I posted in public, because he was not a complete stranger after the personal discussion. It’s a matter of courtesy. I am a Japanese so I may have a cultural difference in perception, but this type of social skill becomes important when you age and work with many people (I am >30). I hope you two make up and show up in the show again. Toru.

    1. Zac deserves the scorn he gets from the fandom and the industry.

      Did he ask permission from the Japanese and western anime companies when he and his opinion parrots say harshly negative things about the shows he reviews and to those that legitimately enjoy ecchi/moe/loli anime? Does he deserve to put forth his hyper left political opinion when the industry never asked to hear it?

      He’s been warned before from Japanese companies about his negative reviews and he responded with the equivalent of “go fuck yourselfs!”

      If you don’t believe me, read this:

    2. Wow, Thank you sir for your insight since its rare to have a person with from another culture weigh in on this situation. But I am afraid I must clear something up, these two do not work together. And from what Anubis told me they will never be friends, but they will be more civil to one another.

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